- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
I saw two pike right away. One was small, two or three pounds, lying near the bank. The other was bigger, 15 pounds, I reckoned. It lay motionless. And close by played a shoal of roach, a weed bed separating them. As I looked on, there was a great tumult in the water. The pike had accelerated so fast that I had missed the movement. All I saw was the eruption, the roach exploding in a silver shower.
A second later there was peace again. The pike had returned to its original position and it lay there, tail gently fanning. The roach, living from second to second, were playing again. Obedient to the well-known imperative human impulse to break up this kind of serenity, I hurled a stone from the bluff, causing the big pike to surge off.
That fall day I went no farther, not realizing I had covered no more than half of the lake. I had seen enough. I was in a fever to get back there with my tackle and take out that 15-pounder.
Francis Francis might have used champagne corks as pike bobbers, but I was now into toothbrushes. Cut the head off and what have you got? If you pick the right kind, a translucent, attractively colored pike plug, that's what, once you have fixed tin spinning vanes to the forward end and a treble hook to the rear.
At any rate, that was what the fishing magazine had said in its angling-tips feature. Working with two old toothbrushes, I reckoned I was in business. One of my lures was blue, the other pearly pink, and when I took them down to the Lily Pools the next weekend, they flashed and wobbled in the water just as the magazine claimed they would. But perhaps there was something not quite serious enough about them. Although I caught pike, they were far from formidable size. If the 15-pounder was still hanging around below the bluff, he showed not a sign of interest.
But on the whole I was content. I cycled back to town and, having recently become old enough to do so legally, turned into the Hope Inn, the first pub you came to on the straggling Main Street of Pembroke. As rural a little town as it was, I couldn't leave my rod tied to the crossbar of the bike, so I took it in with me.
I didn't plan to linger in the Hope. This was a Saturday night, and what you did in Pembroke on a Saturday night was go home, eat supper, change, go to the pub for an hour and then head to Haggar's Ballroom for the dance. You could spend only about an hour in the pub because Old Man Haggar wouldn't let anybody in after 10 p.m.
As usual on weekends home from college, this was my plan for the evening. The bar was almost empty. I ordered my modest half pint of ale and took it to a corner. Looking up, I caught the eye of a fellow about my age. There was a fishing rod propped in his corner also. For a few moments we summed one another up. I was first to break the silence. "Do any good?" I asked.
The one I was addressing had a wild, buccaneering look about him, emphasized by a wind-reddened, predatory beak of a nose. He was very tall with lank black hair. He gave my question full consideration, then replied carefully, "Nah."
When I came to know John Lindenburgh better I would realize that this kind of monosyllabic reply was not discourtesy. He considered that he had not done any good and saw no special reason to enlarge on that. At this first encounter I was a little put off, but the chance to talk with another pike fisherman made that irrelevant.