- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"Bob's your uncle!" bawled Dowle. He was into a fish that had been lurking under a log fall. And, from the bend of his rod and the sound of the reel, it was a heavy one. Good old reliable McGinty. Me and my home-tied Duns, gossamer leaders and Hardy rods. Sopwith Camel.
The trout flashed under the boat, heading for open water, taking line. Dowle crouched and let him go. He kept just enough pressure on to make the trout work for it. The fish jumped and fell back heavily. It was a rainbow, possibly four pounds, maybe more. The trout was the biggest Dowle had ever encountered, and he said as much between clenched teeth. I was worried about there not being enough line. Dowle had no backing. Luckily, the trout decided to sulk and think it over.
Confusion on deck. No longer able to contain himself, the askari was on his feet and whanging away in rapid Swahili. He had found the net and was making savage premature sweeps at the water. His excited gestures threatened to capsize the boat and I was sure that he could not swim a stroke.
"Get him off me," said Dowle, who was gaining on the fish.
Easier said. There was no calming the askari. That was his dinner out there. Worse, trying to shift him to the bow away from Dowle would have been to invite disaster. I forced him back down to the seat, took away the net and demonstrated how to ease the net under the trout. "Pole-pole" I told him. Easy does it.
The rainbow jumped again. This time he was closer to the boat. He went deep, taking more line. The run forced the tip of the rod to the water, into it. The line hissed through the guides. Beads of water jumped from it. More advice in Swahili. I kept the askari pinned to the seat. But underneath his jacket his muscles trembled with anticipation.
Another run, weaker. Then the trout was just beneath us, fighting for equilibrium, and not making it. A slab of flank showed pink and silver. I had underestimated. The rainbow might go over six. And the he was a her. The bullet-shaped head was characteristically female. The spots on her back seemed to be the size of dimes. I felt a pang of jealousy. But God bless Major Grogan anyway.
The askari wrenched free. Horror-struck, I watched as he lifted the starboard oar high over his head and aimed a mighty blow at the trout. Typical of times of crisis, the action unfolded in slow motion: screech from the askari, oar sweeping downward, water detonating, leader parting, trout gone. Dowle made a futile grab for her. She sank. Then, with slow but powerful motions of her tail, she returned to the bottom. Momentarily I could see her outlined against the weed. She vanished. "Why didn't you do something?" Dowle sobbed.