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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.