freeline-24 - Page 136



Made In England
(Above) A Wyre Lake stunner for Steven Cottam.
months, one of which was by a
salmon angler. He had no idea of the
pike record, so just took photos and
returned the massive pike that he
caught recently, unaware that it
would have severely dented that
record – Mark’s planning a trip very
shortly!
I have to say, having read most of
Mark’s book, I think it is one of the
best books of its kind since ‘Casting
at the Sun’. That’s not being a publisher and saying, ‘Please by our
books,’ it is a truly wonderful piece of
literature, and Mark’s use of the
English language is as dextrous and
delightful as that of his long-time
friend, Chris Yates. Coupled with his
talent with a camera, this will be
almost a work of art, and I can’t wait
to get it all laid out and have a really
good look at it. Here are just a couple
of tasty morsels for you to digest –
On Redmire
‘I wrote in my diary the following
morning, “There is a deeper magic
here that survives behind the cracked
facade and I’m able to sense it now. It
has taken time for the pool to speak to
me but I can hear its small, clear
voice, talking softly, like a mewling
buzzard through the mist. I wish I
136 FREE LINE
could be here alone, so that I could
hear it more clearly still. If I could tune
in to its gentle whisper for a while,
without interruption from human
voices and disturbance, I might really
start to get to know Redmire. I might
even catch a carp.”’
On the River of Our
Dreams
‘All anglers have a river flowing
through their dreams. In their sleep,
they fish in peace on a stream where
the clear current reflects a perpetual
summer sky. Kingfishers whistle as
they dart beneath the overhanging
foliage and the air is heavy with the
scents of willow herb and freshly cut
hay. The river meanders; shallow riffles race into sleek glides and mysterious pools, and a bed of golden
gravel is revealed between the waving fronds of ranunculus.
Of course, there are fish. Shoals of
dace and grayling shimmer in the riffle, flashing at flies and chasing their
shadows over the gravel. In the slacks
and eddies, sleek roach drift slowly
beneath the shelter of the lilies and
fleets of tiger-striped perch hunt their
prey like pirates. Gangs of bullyboy
chub fight for drowning slugs and
stealthy pike hang motionless in
tense anticipation of a careless meal.’
On Pike
‘Never before had I seen such majesty
in a fish. Even the large carp I’ve
caught over the years didn’t compare
to the first sight of that pike. She was
huge, long and muscular and had an
aura of wild fury that seemed to light
up her scales. The pike burnt with a
primeval fire that made me step backwards involuntarily, it was rather like
the way marine big game fish “light
up” when hooked. Boosh! The surface
exploded as she turned again and
dived for the sanctuary of the deepest
water. I’m sure the hooks would have
straightened if I’d been using a fixed
spool reel, no matter how good the
clutch, but on the pin I eased off the
pressure instantaneously and let the
action of the cane absorb the full force
of that lunge for freedom.
Three times I brought her back to
the surface and three times I failed to
hold her as she plunged back down
into the depths of the pool. Then, on
the fourth confrontation, I sensed less
force in her dive and she felt for the
first time like a dead-weight, using
the power of the river to carry herself
away instead of her own ebbing

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