As we allowed our pints to settle he asked me a question; ‘Do you ever see out there the colour of water when you are catching the fish?’
I looked out through the door and the garden of The Tin Pub which ran down to a small beach and then Kitchen Cove the water was silver and bright in the sunlight and I shook my head and replied; ‘Its blue isn’t it. Or whatever colour the sky happens to be that day.’
‘There’s more colours than blue. You watch carefully next time you are out catching fish and look at the difference. You spend enough time out there you will see which colour works best.’
‘The water on a day like today will look blue but thats the colour of the sky. If the sky started to cloud up it will change more to green. Either is transparent so you can see through it clear. But green and blue aren’t the best to catch fish.’
‘And there will be days when the water is grey and it has a smell to it. Feck knows where the stink comes from. if you’re sat in the pub there will be someone that will tell you the stink comes from whichever man has been out on the water that day.’
‘But the best water if you are wanting to catch mackerel is yellow water. You will get it sometimes when there are squid in the bay. The mackerel feast on them. Watch as you gut them and sometimes you will see one there in its belly. I hear the Romans knew about it and they said the water was like sulphur if the mackerel were in. You can catch mackerel most times but the best catches are when the water is yellow.’
We took our first taste at the pints. Two greedy gulps wiping our mouths with the back of our hands.
‘Its their shit that turns the water. They are greedy fecks and if the squid are in they will stuff themselves until they can’t eat anymore and they shit and they eat some more and shit again. Now you’ve seen the colour of mackerel shit when they are sliding in the bottom of the boat and you’re trying to grab hold of it to give it a nip on the back of the head so you can carry on and catch some more.’
‘Its the squid as well. There’s something in a squid that turns a mackerel shit yellow. Feck knows how it works but they get together and they will stain the water yellow.’
He took another drink from his glass.
‘But the most beautiful colour is if you go fishing at night. Go out there when its dark and the light of the moon is still well down behind Mount Gabrial. Take your boat out to where you know the mackerel roam in their waters. Turn off the engine and sit yourself still for a while. Then stand up tall and look down deep into the water. If you are lucky you’ll see them down there. You won’t see the fish of course but the silver trace of them as they stream through the water. Its the phosphorescence they give off down there. On a good night it can seem as if your boat is being carried along on a river of silver light.’
‘You’d expect a fish that tastes as they do to be ugly. But they are a beautiful fish be it light or dark.’
He finished his glass and nodded goodbye before walking out onto the road. He put his head back through the door ‘Tell Patrick I’ll pay him this evening’ and he was gone.