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Kilconquhar  Loch

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. Monance.

Both were great getaway places as they greatly expanded my adventures.

At 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.

When my tears dried I decided to go on a vendetta and wage war on the pike. 

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 trying to make its escape.

By the end of that summer I decided that I'd more than got even with the pike.

Part of the 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


 The summers went by in a flash