When I was
quite young, to augment the family coffers, we rented out
our Earlsferry home to summer visitors who came mostly from
Glasgow and Edinburgh. This was a common practice by the
villagers at that time. During these summer months we moved
in to small vacant houses either in Kilconquhar or St.
were great getaway places as they greatly expanded my
Kilconquhar the garden of one house that we rented extended
to the loch. There I immediately fell prey to a huge pike.
I was wading alongside of the wooden boat pier and I saw
it coming like a submarine. Next thing I knew it clamped on
to my big toe. Pike have a great number of teeth that all
point inwards. It shook its head and the water turned red.
After I extricated myself I ran crying to the house
where I got
swabbed with stinging iodine.
my tears dried I decided to go on a vendetta and wage war on
Pike are cannibals and are just plain mean and ugly. Some fish are good
looking but pike are sinister. Their mouths are full of
razor sharp teeth. A poor innocent perch when devoured is
heading in only one direction. Not only do they devour their
fishy friends they wreak havoc on the birds that nest in the
reeds of the shoreline of the loch. Many times I've seen
ducks, water hens, coots and others go paddling by with all
their brood in line astern. You may be watching a mallard
with seven ducklings in tow. Blink an eye and now there are six.
One has been gobbled up feathers and all. Blink again and
now there are five. Giant pike will even prey on the cygnets
of the majestic swans. I've witnessed great swan/pike
battles as the cob valiantly fights off these underwater
killers. I've observed that swans mate for life and
when one dies, the other lives out its life in
solitude. There's no doubt about it, pike are just
plain mean and ugly and the older they get the uglier and
meaner they get.
One time after catching a monster I took it home to show it
off. I filled a large washtub with water and
dropped it in. I had brought it home in a wet gunny sack but
it must have been out of the water for almost
half an hour. I went to get my sister Minnie to see my
trophy. As she got close that pike leaped clean out of the
water and sank its teeth into the sleeve of her jersey.
Luckily for Minnie her jersey was made of heavy Shetland wool.
One day, early in the morning I was casting out into the
loch with a heavy metal spinner. I hooked a big pike that
ended up breaking my line. Midday I went home then returned
to resume the battle. Right at the very last cast of the
day, as daylight was fading the battle was rejoined.
As I slowly hauled my prey ashore, not only was my mornings
heavy metal spinner hanging from its jaw and trailing a
length of line but also another spinner from some other previous
fisherman. Three spinners in all. Caput for that ogre.
In these days
Kilconquhar Loch was full of huge pike and
great shoals of perch. Perch were good to eat but not pike.
The pike that I caught I donated to the next door neighbor
who boiled them with potatoes to make mash for the chickens
that he kept. His eggs tasted awful. A metal spinner was a
good way to catch pike but the really big ones preferred to
dine on perch. I discovered that the big pike prowled the
shoreline during the hours of darkness. Most every
night I hooked a big pike. My method was to use a heavy hand line
that I tied to the dock. For a leader I attached a foot long
piece of heavy wire. Each evening just before dark I baited
the hook with a perch and heaved it out. In the mornings
when I retrieved the line I could tell before I got there
that I'd caught another by the disappearance of my big
cork float and the way the line was stretched taut and the tall reeds were flattened
by the pressure of the line where the pike was
to make its escape.
By the end of that summer I decided
that I'd more than got even with the pike.
house of the next door neighbor that I gave the pike to was
also a pub, (Copeland's Bar). Each afternoon he proclaimed happy hour time.
For us boys he offered Irrronn Brrruu or Shandies that I think were mostly pink
lemonade although I'm pretty sure for good measure he added
Crabbies Green Ginger wine or a splash of his fermented barleycorn. Ha, ha.
Across the road from our house was Bella Ramsey's newspaper
and sweetie shop. I used to run errands for her and she
kept me well supplied with Soor Plooms, Pandrops,
Butterscotch and Brandy Balls.
Another of Albert's
photos. The building on the left was Bella Ramsey's
home and shop