9 October 2012

A Fishy Tale - Actually, Two Fishy Tales

I’ve been meaning to start my blog again, not on a daily basis as it’s too onerous but when I’ve got something important or interesting to say ….. so here goes…..

My friend, Pastor Pete (he is actually a retired vicar) and I are fishing buddies and a couple of weeks ago he took me to a restaurant where you sit on a terrace beside the river, have lunch and watch huge chub swimming no more than a couple of feet from the tables. As keen fishermen we salivated over the prospect of trying to catch some of these fish but it appeared that the only place in the river where they congregated was beside the restaurant.

Pete threw in some bread, as did quite a few of the other diners, but the chub just pushed it around and were not at all interested. I came to the conclusion that the fish were sick to the back gills (!!) of bread so I took a piece of my kidney cooked in red wine sauce, threw it in and it was like a piranha feeding frenzy – we had the solution – we had the bait!

Pete suggested we go back in a week or so, on a Monday when the restaurant is closed, and try this new bait but unfortunately I had guests (thanks Neil, Sophie et al) and had to refuse the invitation. I’ve still to find out how Pete and his son did that Monday. Watch this space. 

The real story for the blog though is a real mystery fishy tale.

My friends have a house about a mile away and in their drive there is a freshwater spring. In order to clear any obstructions which might cause the spring to overflow, a foot square inspection trap has been fitted and it was in this trap that they found a rather exotic looking fish a few months ago. Unfortunately, the fish was dead and I didn’t get to see it but a few weeks ago, Sarah said another, live fish was swimming about in the trap, so armed with a net and a large container, I was down there like a shot.

I caught the fish (not too difficult when it only has a foot square to swim in !) and was staggered. Now, I could probably recognize any fresh or saltwater fish you put in front of me but this fish amazed me. About 2 inches long, it was yellow, with dark spots and a blueish tinge. I had an idea what it was but my brain told me it couldn’t possibly be what I thought it was.

I took it home and after the water equalized, I let it go in my own fish pond. I then got onto the internet to do some research.

Very similar to the mystery fish
I looked at every possible fish which resembled the one I’d just caught and came to the conclusion that it was a cichlid, an aquarium warm water fish from the Rift Valley Lakes in Kenya, but why would a cichlid be swimming in a cold water spring? Where had it come from?

Sarah thought a passing bird might have dropped it in the trap as it flew past but apart from the fact about where a bird would get a cichlid there was the inescapable view that ok, maybe one bird might drop a fish into the trap, but two. It wasn’t possible.

I got onto Google Earth. Above Sarah’s house there is a chateau. Not a chateau with turrets as English people would think of, just a big fancy house, owned by a Lord Drayson – him of motor racing fame, not the guy who designs vacuum cleaners - he's Dyson !

In front of the house there appears to be a large ornamental lake and it occurred to me that Lord Drayson might actually keep exotic fish in it, and one, or two, might have escaped through a sluice or something, but warm water cichlids ?

I found a contact point on the internet for Sarah’s neighbour and sent him a nice e-mail explaining the situation, but when I read it back, it sounded like a stupid joke which maybe explains why I have not had a reply.

Anyway, the fish has not been seen since I put it into my pond. I don’t think it has died as it would have floated to the surface so I assume it’s down there in the depths somewhere.

A fishy mystery indeed !

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