Let me confess, I like otters. I like carp too, so there’s the dilemma.
One of my favourite books as a teenager was Gavin Maxwell’s “Ring of Bright Water”,
and I also adored “Quest for Carp” by Jack Hilton.
I think there are some similarities between the two, very different books.
Much of Hilton’s book
is about an escape to a secret place, Redmire in Herefordshire, and Maxwell’s aim, in moving to Sandaig on the West Coast of Scotland, was also to find release from modern times.
Reading both books in
the Seventies, at a time when Hilton had packed up fishing and Maxwell had died, I was struck by a desire to find my old secret places and live my life on my own terms.
I’m still waiting, as least as far as
the bigger picture is concerned. We anglers usually have to be satisfied with smaller doses of freedom. It might be one day by a water, or a few days – but not usually that deeper challenge of moving completely away from urban civilisation for a far
longer period of time.
However, there was no denying the allure of both books, and perhaps it was then that I realised I had quiet, anti-social tendencies.
Yes, I think
you have to be a little anti-social to shut yourself away with an otter in a Scottish cottage; and same verdict applies to Hilton, whose aim - for many years - was to spend as much time as possible on the banks of Redmire, in pursuit of a record fish.
Of course, I greatly admire both men and, as I say, I like otters and I like carp.
“And never the twain shall meet” in my own little world?
Well, not quite. Earlier this year I took my chances with the weather for a session at the pool I call “Clay Farm Pond”. It’s been a bad winter, hasn’t it? - and I was cold. But the sun shone and I managed a
few modest-sized commons.
What startled me was a heavy splash, just off the island, and a long stream of bubbles travelling at speed. There was a large swirl, over the deeper water, and another very impressive stream
It’s odd that, although I didn’t see a head or tail, I had no doubt what I was seeing.
“Otter attack,” I said.
This should not have been surprising; after all, the pool lies close to a river system where otters have been logged.
What the incident did leave me with was a sense of confusion as to how
I felt about this visitation.
In one way, I’d love to have a clear sighting of an otter at work the pool, and the other half of me is worried about the number of carp I’ve been catching that have rather
severe bites out of their tails.
I want the otter to move on; and I hope it has moved on.
But part of me is awestruck and excited....