Dear Chain Pickerel,
You were only as long as my forearm, but you fought like a hurricane. Your torpedo body whipped and strained against my line. I pulled you into my hand and you calmed. Trying to hold you was like trying to hold an eel. You had a beautiful spoonbill mouth – rounded, not sharp like the garfish or the alligator. The triple barbs of my treble hook were buried in your mouth; I’m sorry. I’m glad that were a young fish with small, backward-facing teeth that did not bury themselves into my hand. I admired your perfect camouflage; from the side and above you look like green water with irregular windowpanes of light. I worried that I had hurt you, but once I removed the hook and slid you into the water, you sulked off into the rocks and disappeared like smoke into fog.
It was nice to meet you.
P.S. If you enjoyed this letter, you should read John McPhee’s essay, “The Patch”.
A classic print (1896) by S.F. Denton courtesy of The New Yorker magazine.