fish tales from the towpath
By Susan B. Price, originally published in "The Canal Times" in 2007
Of Fish And Men
At dawn the canal is drowsy and mysterious, inky tree shadows, a hint of fog. Maria and I are at Perinton Park, clambering out on the rocks, scouting flat spots for our coffee and our carton of worms. I’m lugging an extra large thermos because Malone said he’s going to come by, give us some pointers.
We bait our hooks and cast. Maria feels a nibble. “Come to me, co-o-o-me to me-e-e,” she incants. But the line goes slack. She reels in. Yep, the worm is gone.
“Got something,” I cry. No, something’s got me. My rig is jammed between rocks below. Only solution – snap the line and start over. Grrr…
At this rate how are we ever going to become fishing divas? Why is it that the men we know spare only cryptic chunks of advice (“ultralite”… “French spinner”… “bass minnows”) but when it comes time for some real lessons – where’s that darn Malone?
I attach a bobber to keep my hook off the 12-foot bottom. I stare at the float, impatient that I can’t see or feel what’s happening below.
An hour passes. Malone is a no-show and aren’t the fish just like him and all the other men we know, moody and secretive, making themselves scarce just when you’ve thrown them your best lure. Elusive objects of desire, impervious to our wishes.
An old man stops his towpath walk to look at us. “Pike,” he says. “There’s pike I seen being pulled out, up there, by the bridge.” We pester him for more information but he only nods and moseys along toward the misty pike hideaway.
We pick up our gear and move upstream ready to reel in a pike or two, with photos for proof of our prowess. No such luck. Maria catches a sunfish. I hand her my pliers and snap a picture. She pries out the hook and kisses the fish on his lips. “Thanks for the memories, Myron,” she says and tosses him back.