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"I think I'll give Templehouse a rest today," I said carefully to Jimmy Hogg, picking my words. "I might give Allen a try."
He looked at me as if I'd walked into church with my hat on.
"A lake that size wouldn't color up so easily," I explained.
"I hope," said Jimmy obscurely, "the weather holds for you."
I backed out, still apologizing, but I felt better three-quarters of an hour later, sitting in Mooney's warm kitchen, listening to sagas of the great pike fights of the past as the clock ticked the forenoon away.
"You'd better have a look at my lures," I said to Mooney, breaking the spell. I wanted to get this bit over early, having had my tackle insulted by local experts in many parts of the world. Pat wasn't too scathing, though. I had a couple of the traditional six-inch copper and silver spoons, and these were approved of. "I'll just get my Magic Marker," said Pat, "and touch them up a little." Returning with a thick, felt-tipped pen in his fist, he began daubing the undersides of my spoons. "A small bit of blue is what the big ones love," he said. "Have you anything else at all with blue in it?"
From the bottom tray of my tackle box I disentangled the pride of my collection, a long Swedish plug, blue and white with black bars. "What in the name of God is that?" said Pat, recoiling theatrically. He knew what it was, all right, but it is an article of faith among Irish boatmen that Irish pike, unlike those of any other nation, will not take plugs.
"You haven't seen anything yet," I told him, dragging out a couple of wildly colored American creations with the engaging name of Bump 'n' Grind. The main feature of these plugs was a vast silver diving lip almost half their length.
"They would go just fine on top of a bloody Christmas tree," said Pat sardonically.
I didn't rise to that one. The battle of the plugs was going to be fought out later, when the fishing started. I closed the tackle box and waited to be cross-examined on rods and reels, but Pat was more liberal in this sector. Eleven-pound-test line was acceptable, so long as I had plenty of it.