Three fishing holes drilled equidistant from one another surround The Giant down in Lure Cove. The first tip-up is set and the second is primed; all it needs is bait. The water in the bait bucket is cold, but not as cold as the water of Monksville, nor the cap of ice which seals it, nor the snow which covers that frosty seal. The storm seems to have passed, for the time being, at least – by the bite of the air against The Giant’s red-tipped nose he knows the winter has only just begun and Monksville is due for many more storms. But that’s the future and this is the now, and now, The Giant has bait to drown.
He hooked the first shiner cleanly enough, watched it swim about when he dropped it in the water; the second one is not so lucky. As he inserts the hook, a sneeze takes him and sends a wily twitch through his hand – the spine of the shiner is skewered and the little lakebreather dies instantly. As he watches the corpse sink down into the murky water, two bald eagles fly from South Cove in the direction of the two islands, but The Giant does not see them. He could not see them, even if he was looking their way – the snow still falls in a flurry. Though the visibility is greater now than it was as he trekked out here (when he crested the treacherous hill he found himself lost in a cloud, surrounded on all sides by impenetrable white), he still can’t see to the other side of Monksville. All the same he knows giants from the Mining Village are likely out on this Reservoir somewhere, probably using their pickaxes and shovels to break huge holes in the ice; he hopes they can forgive him for allowing them to break the holes for themselves today.
Remaining in the bucket are a single shiner and the freshwater eel. The Giant initially opened the bucket this third time with the intention of skewering the eel on the hook of his jiggin’ rig, but now he takes a pause. Drowning bait is one thing, but to sink a corpse in hopes of attracting something large and mighty? That’s just not feasible. To catch a muskellunge one needs to approach with smarts – merely using bait is not enough. The apex lakebreather must be enticed, it must be attracted to bait by more than the scent of it alone; the bait must have guile, it must be animate, it must be capable of giving the muskellunge a challenge, an obstacle to overcome, a reason to swallow whatever that shiny thing that protrudes from the back of the bait may be. Besides, he cannot jig with the eel on his line. The snakefish is much too large for that.
The Giant pulls the second tip-up and reels the line by hand, as one must when fishcatching with tip-ups. The lake water is just as cold as it was a moment ago, as cold as it shall be until very late in the spring when leaf buds have long since bloomed and lost the vibrant green hues of their birth. He unhooks the slain shiner and drops it in the hole. As it sinks untethered to the mortal realm, The Giant fishes the slick snakefish from the comparatively lukewarm bait bucket and manages to skewer it without inducing paralysis. He watches it slither into the depths before resetting the tip-up for action.
Upon the hook of his jiggin’ rig The Giant skewers his last shiner. It squirms in his hand even with the hook in its back, as if it doesn’t feel the pain at all.
‘Good,’ he thinks to himself as he drops the line into the third hole and a pair of eagles screams in the distance, ‘this one shall be a fighter. Mark my words: on this day, the last muskellunge of Monksville shall be caught.’
This has been the eleventh subchapter of the third chapter of the book The Monksville Chronicles. Here is everything you need to know about it:
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