The Fish That Got Away

“As children, myself and my younger brother often heard our Father tell stories from his childhood about the river Greese across from his family home on the ‘Blind Lane’ as it is known locally. He told us about how himself and his younger brother Denis would catch trout and how with pollution over the decades big fish were now seldom seen. Or not at all.
Little did we know that we would live in that same house across from that very stream in the early 90’s.
I remember how mischievous and curious we were; there’s 11 months between us and back then we were attached at the hip. If my brother went fishing for pinkeens, I was not too far behind, usually armed with a sieve or colander and if those were not readily available, Granny’s crystal vases came in very handy!
This Summer day was beautiful. The river is beside a paddock where my uncles sheep used to graze. We had our wellies, our sieve and colander and we agreed that we were to stay close to the sides and ‘fish’ under the long grass at the banks because that is where the fish hid. No talking either because we would scare them away.
Usually we would have caught a few pinkeens, but the stream was unusually quiet. We did not have long because our babysitter was due to arrive and under no circumstances were we to get wet! I can still remember my Mam calling us from across the road to “get in now!”. I of course, being the well behaved one started gathering my accoutrements ready to go home. I called for my brother, but he did not budge, he kept telling me to shush that he was going to catch a big one! I started wading towards him to try and reason with him “we’ll come back tomorrow” I said, but it fell on deaf ears. I was turning around to leave when he screamed and fell backwards into the river, he had the sieve and I could clearly see he had caught something huge. I remember the fins. I started to run towards him to help but slipped and fell in the river too. At this stage we did not care about being wet, we had caught a huge fish and we were going to bring it home to Dad and he would be proud as punch.
I eventually reached him; he was struggling to keep the fish inside the sieve. There was an inner struggle there too about what was right and wrong. The fish needed water and we had nothing big enough to fill with water. Empathy won in the end and we let our prized and rare catch go. We both looked at each other and said, “we’re dead, we have no proof!”. Soaked to the skin and feeling dejected, we went home. Of course, our parents did not believe us when we said we were wet from catching a trout. They laughed, we cried in frustration.
Although, I think now over twenty-five years later they might believe us.
If we had smart phones back then, I could see the picture and caption on Facebook now:
‘First catch for Dunlavin boy as he reels in BIG ONE’