Donald was bent over the workbench at the end of the garage, but dangling from one of the rafters were some, well… Damien wasn’t quite sure just what. On closer inspection, Damien could see they were small fish, hung up by their tails on odd lengths of what was looked suspiciously like braid from one of Damien’s reels.

Damien took a few steps nearer and could see that the fish were in fact sprats, but they were a strange golden colour, which was dripping off them making little puddles on the floor and then there was the pungent smell of paint fumes

Donald turned round, and seeing the stunned look on Damien’s face, started giggling; ‘Well laddie, my secret’s out now’ he tapped the side of his nose and gave Damien an exaggerated wink.

Damien sighed. He really didn’t want to ask, but the little voice in his head said he probably should.

‘OK, just give me the very, very short version, but please don’t leave out the bit about how I apparently gave you permission to cut up lumps of my best braid’

Donald began, ‘These are golden sprats laddie, the very best secret pike bait, can’t fail on the right day’

‘Hmmm’ said Damien, turning his head away slightly and squinting, ‘I might understand the colour, but I can’t help noticing the slight aroma that seems to be pervading the atmosphere’

‘ Ah laddie, ‘said Donald, waving an open tin under Damien’s nose ‘that’ll be the Autumn Oak’

Damien peered at the proffered item. ‘That’s varnish, it actually is varnish and you have been dipping those sprats in varnish’ He emphasised that last word by raising his eyebrows as high as they would go.


‘It’s just the thing laddie, preserves the baits and stiffens them up a bit, just what you need for a bit of sink and draw fishing’ and digging Damien in the ribs, Donald continued ‘Nothing wrong with a bit of stiffening, eh laddie…’

Damien stepped back, and shuddered from just thinking about that last comment. He walked over to the bench and picked up the varnish. He turned the tin around in his hand, appearing to study it in great detail

‘Wot yer looking for laddie’ enquired Donald

‘Well’ said Damien ‘I have looked all round and I can’t find it’

‘Find wot’ said a now puzzled looking Donald

‘Where it mentions pike fishing’

‘Well it won’t laddie, cos it’s meant for wood’ said Donald

‘Ah’ replied Damien, ‘then it doesn’t do exactly what it says on the tin….!’

Donald just shook his head at that, realising Damien was joking with him.

Damien was losing rapidly interest now but couldn’t resist another little dig ‘And pray tell uncle, do you find that gloss or satin finish varnish gives you the best results?

‘Pah’ snorted Donald ‘You’ll see laddie, on the right day these can be deadly’

‘I can well believe that’ replied Damien ‘Probably poison any poor fish that grabs hold of them..!’

With that, Damien turned and walked off, chuckling under his breath, but he made a mental note to check his reels. If the old git had been hacking lumps of braid of the spools he would have to go and buy some new line, and getting new gear was never a chore. So a trip to the tackle shop beckoned….

Of course, that wasn’t the end of the story. Having prepared his sprats, Donald spent every day tapping the hallway barometer and looking to the skies for the ‘perfect day’. Apparently he wanted just the right mixture of weather, quite a mild day, slightly misty, and the barometer rising.

November came and went with Donald going through his weather watching routine every day and inevitably shaking his head and telling anyone that would listen that ‘Oh well, maybe tomorrow might be the day………’




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