Thursday, February 9, 2012

Refried Mallard: London Calling

Another in a series of recycled blog posts from years past. Because I'm lazy.

I did add the lyrics to "London Calling" below the pic. That wasn't in the original post, so that's something, right? I haven't made it back to Europe since writing this in 2009, so I haven't had a chance to implement my plan.

But I will...oh, yes, I will...

                                                 "The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in
                                                 Engines stop running and the wheat is growing thin
                                                 A nuclear error, but I have no fear
                                                 London is drowning-and I live by the river."

This is a picture of a person I don't know talking to a couple other people I don't know as he attempts - using an unknown technique and bait - to catch a fish, the species of which I (surprise, surprise) don't know.

And thus sums up my knowledge of European urban angling. The photograph was taken in London along the Thames on my first trip to Europe a few years back. My plan was to strike up a conversation with him in the international language of the brotherhood of anglers, ask him all kinds of questions about British fishing and expand my fishing horizons beyond my own provincial Amero-centric boundaries.

That was the plan, anyway.

As I walked up to him after the two people in the picture finally left I heard him muttering to himself. I don't know exactly what he was saying, but since it contained multiple instances of the phrase "fockin' tourists", my fear of getting thrown headfirst into the Thames outweighed my curiosity and I just walked on by. In hindsight, I don't blame him a bit.

I had tried the same thing a few days earlier in Paris with a dour-looking Frenchman who was tight-lining a spinning rod along the left bank of the Seine.

I suspect he spoke perfect English, but (again, in hindsight) if I were being heckled by an American buffoon who thought that speaking English slowly and with a ridiculously affected fake French accent would help me understand what he was saying, then I'd probably just ignore him, too.

How bad was it? Imagine the unholy lovechild of Casablanca's Captain Renault and Inspector Clouseau.

"Excusemwha. May eye ask what eat eeze you are feeshing for? Eye am an Ameri-cahn and I too enjoy zee feeshing!"

The man gave me a look of unadulterated contempt, or maybe horror, it was hard to tell, spoke something in rapid-fire French and then turned back to his rod in a manner that implied in no uncertain terms that this tortured conversation, such as it was, was over.

I've since learned to just shut up, smile and say "Bonjour" to absolutely everything.

So suffice it to say I don't know much about fishing in Europe. But damn it, that's going to change.

My wife is a high school humanities teacher, and every three years or so she (and by extension, I) take a group of her students on a trip to Europe. Twice now (not including the trip on which this picture was taken) I have walked along the banks of the Thames, the Seine, the Arno and the Tiber watching other guys fish and wondering what they were fishing for.

Next time, it's gonna be me. Next time, I'm packing a three-piece travel rod, a Calcutta 100, a small tackle box (after I figure out what kind of tackle to take) and I'm going to fish every one of those rivers. I will have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. I'll try to talk the Suburban Bushwacker into helping me out with the Thames, but the others will be Terra Incognita, pure guerrilla fishing.

I may not catch anything, but at least I can say I did it instead of wondering about it.

I have no idea how many laws - both international and sovereign - I'll be violating with this plan, but I'm sure it's legion. And I don't care. What are they going to do, throw me in fishing jail? Besides, they've got to catch me first. All I have to do is act like I belong there, like I have every right to be fishing that spot.

And if anybody questions me, I'll just smile, say "Bonjour" and run like hell.

Brilliant, no?


  1. Excellent now I can recycle an old comment.

    The gentleman in the picture fishing for mouthy birds, with a rod by Holland and Holland (cost $150,000) using baits that were hand crafted in scotland, the 'water' is actually high alcohol content larger, and without a suitably high quality excuse for not catching anything he is answering the questions of tourists by mumbling gibberish in a comedy french accent. The boat in the background has been re-named in your honour 'Palin-milf of the seas'


  2. My dad would have asked him. Once he got away from a group tour in Moscow, pre-glasnost and perestroika, and attempted to have that conversation with smiles and gestures with a man fishing in the Moscow River. Then a dark sedan pulled up nearby, and the angler got nervous and cut the conversation short.