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Wednesday 11 July 2012

It Was This Big - Honest...

European Otter, photo taken by Bernard Landgraf, 
It was the last school run of the year this week. I drove Son Number One the two miles to the coach stop, parked  in the pub car park then crossed the quiet country road to the coach stop as usual. It's something we've done for the last forty weeks without incident, but on this final occasion there was a surprise waiting. There was something visible on the path, which runs along the River Wye.  A dead rabbit, we thought at first, or maybe a squirrel. As we got closer, we could see it was a carp - dead, but very fresh.  I know the width of my clenched fist with thumb extended is exactly six inches, so I measured the fish.  It was exactly two feet long from nose to tail, and more than eight inches across at its widest part. Something - either a mink or an otter, had pulled it out of the Wye and dragged it up the bank to the path. The predator had eaten the fish's head and all the innards, but must have been disturbed before it could start on the flesh. The carp was so fresh, it could only have been out of the water for a matter of minutes.  It was such a beautiful specimen it seemed a shame to leave nature to deal with it. I was once invited dinner with an Eastern European family on Christmas Eve. They cooked an enormous carp, and served it with pike dumplings. That was an incredible feast, but not being a fisherman I wasn't sure of the rights and wrongs of picking up such a good fish so easily - and I didn't want to deprive whatever had originally caught the fish of its breakfast!  

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