Letter to a Pickerel

Sidney, Maine

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.

Sincerely,

~David

P.S. If you enjoyed this letter, you should read John McPhee’s essay, “The Patch”.

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A classic print (1896) by S.F. Denton courtesy of The New Yorker magazine.

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