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14
Jun

Tradition


Written by Ken Brown

An excellent fishing based fiction by Ken Brown. Futuristic yet rooted in the present in ways many of us will identify with.

 

I walked down to the loch to check on the boat, this was a long-planned fishing trip and nothing could be left to chance. I sat on the rock and watched the boat return to shore, lift out of the water and beach itself perfectly beside me as I knew it would. I just had to be there to see it happen. It had covered the whole loch in under an hour scanning every cubic metre of the water from bed to surface. The data it had collected would already have been uploaded and the analysis completed, there was no need for me to be there other than the reassurance that another stage of the planning that had begun five years ago had been successfully completed.

The rock itself also gave reassurance. My Grandfather had stumbled across it on a fishing trip as a youth so many years ago. A slab of granite two metres long and one in width, almost perfectly oval in shape. He put it to immediate use as a picnic spot and, in due turn, so had my Father, myself and my Son many, many times. It was not particularly thick or heavy as my Father had discovered when the jacked it up to place my Grandfather’s ashes beneath it, a feat I repeated with his years later. Family tradition held that all fishing trips to this loch started and ended here. In two hours my Grandson would be introduced to the rock and the trip that had taken so long to arrange would begin.

In truth this expedition had roots further back than the five years of planning. It had begun right here on the rock over twenty years ago.

My Son had celebrated his graduation by getting married, somewhat hastily in my opinion but I could not criticise as I had done the same. The newly married couple had stopped by on the final day of their honeymoon and my Son and I headed for the loch. No fish were to be had on that clear, still day but we all dined upon the rock as the sun went down as tradition demands.

“The time is right.” my daughter-in-law announced, gazing at the stars.

“Yes.” said my Son “We have something to tell you. We are relocating”

“Where to? “ I asked. I was not surprised, they had to find employment and somewhere to set up home.

“There.” He replied, pointing across the loch.

“A lovely spot.” I agreed. “But it is a Conservation Area, you will not get permission to build.”

“Up a bit.” He smiled and raised his arm.

Only then did I see the dim, red point of light that had risen above the horizon. My mind raced as he continued.

“We have been selected amongst the First Hundred for the Colony. The names are announced next week. This must remain a secret until then.”

I nodded, but all I could blurt out was “Your Mother would have been very proud.”

And broken hearted I thought. Aside from the obvious risks, emigration was a one-way trip. The Colonists would be too busy surviving to establish a means of returning to Home let alone the expense. Return was not in the plans.

I broke the awkward silence to state that I too was proud and to ask what happened next. I would have known the answers had I been following the newsfeeds which were fixated on Man’s great experiment but I had been too busy fishing and thus the speed at which events were to progress came as a surprise to me.

Immediately after the announcement of the names, the First Hundred would enter quarantine for training with the flight due in one year. This was goodbye.

The youngsters were delighted that they could now share their secret and they raced to tell me all the details. In truth, I did not share their enthusiasm but they had worked hard to attain their dreams. All parents have to let go at some time but never before across such a distance.

My Son caught my thoughts and spoke to quell my anxiety. “The Pilgrim Fathers did not have VidCom, and, in relative terms, the distance is the same.”

I could not argue with that and we made our way back to the house.

In our absence a small container had arrived on the drive. Personal belongings would not be heading to the Colony and my Son was passing his to me. That it was almost entirely fishing gear brought a smile to my face.

They continued to regale me with their plans and dreams over drinks, exhausting themselves in the process and they took to bed early. I could not sleep and walked back to the rock to watch the little red pinprick of light course across the sky. Hours later I heard his footsteps approaching but did not turn, he placed a hand on my shoulder and stood behind me. I knew what he was looking at.

“No fishing out there.” I said.

“There will be,” he replied “and I’ll fish here again.”

He was only half right.

The emigration went according to plan and less than a year after landing my Grandson made his appearance, beaten to the title of “First Child of The Colony” by a matter of hours.

Practically the only newsfeed I now followed was the Colony Channel. Watching over the years as a steady stream of freighters delivered all that the Colony required along with further Colonists. Competition to emigrate was fierce and could not be bought for any amount of cash though many tried. My weekly thirty minutes on personal VidCom was very expensive but well worth it. I could watch first-hand the development of both the Colony and my Grandson.

That included the milestone of his first fishing trip. My Son had been correct, there was fishing on the Colony. Each of the vast agri-domes had an open water reservoir at the centre and these had been stocked with fish. I remembered my Father’s outrage at the stocking of lochs and wondered what he would think of stocking a planet. With some help from his father a fish was caught and proudly held up for me to admire. On the Colony such a catch was, of course, food and I was shown every step of the preparation and consumption in meticulous detail and extreme close up. Only when the last morsel was gone did the scanner pull back to show the happy family- sitting on an oval slab of red rock whose form I knew so well.

My Grandson patted the picnic table proudly.

“My Daddy made this!, he exclaimed, “with a hammer!”

“And chisel”, my Son corrected, “I would never get permission to use any of the machines for such a luxury, did I get it right?”

“You got everything right” I replied.

My Grandson grew into a fine young man, a keen angler with an exceptional intelligence, the first from his Father, the second must have come from his Mother.

Life on Colony did not follow the same time pattern as here on Home. A pattern of twenty-four hour “days” remained with an eight hour working shift, plus leisure and sleeping time. Six days on, one day off. There were few holidays as such- where would you go, what would you do? The expense of creating recreational facilities could not be countenanced- but fishing was possible and a welcome release from the strains of life on the edge. Education followed the same time pattern as the working shifts thus the children of the Colony completed school by the age of fourteen and masters degree level by seventeen. My Grandson’s specialisation was of particular value to the Colony but (despite his best efforts) incomprehensible to me. To complete his studies would require access to laboratory facilities unavailable on the Colony and a return to Home was impossible.

That was to change, but for reasons nobody could have predicted.

The regular freighter trips from Home to the Colony were one-way. The containers dropped to the surface and designed such that every part was of use to the colonists. Those which contained emigrants had to have life support systems included of course and, on arrival, such equipment was amalgamated into the life support network of the colony itself. The Colony was not wholly dependent on Home for its survival. Ores could be mined and processed such that 3D printers could produce many items. This was all in the plan - until the breakthrough came.

It was well known, indeed a major purpose of the enterprise, that there would be ores and compounds on Colony unknown here on Home and one of the geologists found one in vast amounts- a variant on silicon. He kept his discovery secret. His genius was that he understood the potential applications. His wife was Director of the printing unit and he knew that the new silicon compound could be polymerised in the same way as carbon based, “organic” compounds. He made it work before releasing the news of his discovery.

“Sensational” does not cover it, so much more was now possible and it became imperative that Colonite (as it was named) be exported back to Home. Two-way freighter trips were immediately established regardless of cost. Colonite polymers are now part of everyday life- my latest fishing line is made of one. Still, however, it was only ore that travelled back to Home, the expense of running life supporting containers was just too high. Colonite’s discoverer was just about to change that.

Reward was not possible out on the Colony, back here on Home the geologist would have become an instant billionaire but both his contract and the practicalities did not allow for that. Even if he had been given cash for his discovery what could he spend it on? He could not buy bigger accommodation, a luxury yacht, a sports car, retire or collect masterpieces. It was, however, universally agreed that he should receive some sort of reward and it was agreed to give him two weeks leave of duties per annum. He was delighted and took himself off to Agridome 5 for a fishing trip. “Universally” was an overstatement, his wife had not been given credit for her part in the process and, as we would learn, was none to happy about this state of affairs. Nor was she an angler.

The meticulous planning of the Colony’s affairs would now fail. A minor leak in the Agridome was detected, nothing serious, easily within the compass of fail-safe procedures, but the geologist would have to cut short his fishing trip whilst repairs were completed. He returned to his accommodation to find his wife and her lover in a compromising embrace.

And strangled them both.

Caught (where would he go?) tried and convicted,our greatest benefactor became our greatest problem. The Colony could not support an unproductive prisoner serving a life sentence nor the jailers to contain him. Execution was proposed and the ensuing controversy raged for months. There was only one solution, he would have to return to Home and serve his sentence here.

For the first time a Colonist would return home, if not in auspicious circumstances. He would need jailers for his trip and the Nuffield Foundation seized this opportunity to bring my Grandson back to Home to complete his research.

At that announcement I began my plans for the fishing trip. I had plenty of time and an exact time-scale. Flights to and from the Colony are determined by astronomical calculations, accurate to the second for thousands of years ahead. The date on which my Grandson would arrive Home was a year away, he would complete his training, studies and research in just under four years before collecting a doctorate and returning to the Colony at a date and time known as accurately as that of his arrival. Timing would be tight, he would only be with me for twelve hours at most so everything had to be exactly right.

The arrival of the murderer and his fellow passengers/jailers caused something of an uproar on the news channels with my Grandson at the heart of proceedings as the first person born on the Colony to return to Home. The furore died down in a few days not least as the Nuffield Foundation had taken legal measures to ensure my Grandson’s privacy under the guise of allowing him to complete his essential, and expensive, studies in peace. I was in the welcoming party when he emerged from quarantine and dined with him on every birthday, but I am smart enough not to crowd a young student as he takes the fist steps into independent, adult life.

Whilst the population of the Colony is now numbered in the tens of thousands, there were barely a handful of his own age rather limiting the “romantic” options for a healthy eighteen year old. Here, on Home, however the “Wild Colonial Boy” as the tabvids had named him would be fighting them off, and so it seemed to be- at least at first.

In his four years of study he had managed to get away for some twenty fishing trips. The vid reports that he sent me always featured a glamorous companion at his side. A different one for each of the first eight trips with the same girl in each of the latest twelve. She also appeared at his side when both collected their doctorates. This would be a wrench when he returned to the Colony even when both would have known well in advance of the inevitability of their parting.

In the manner of all students these days he had celebrated his qualification with a few days in Vegas. That did not surprise me, but his travel plans from Vegas to here included a stop-over in Paris which he had not explained. However, he was due to arrive in an hour or so and I left the boat and the rock and returned to the house.

All the preparations were in order, the data from the boat’s survey of the loch had been analysed and was now projected onto my Grandfather’s paper map of the same. Some things never change, trout were lying up and/or feeding in exactly the same spots that my Grandfather’s neat pencil notes indicated. The suggested drifts were identical to the lines my Father had added to the map. I selected the drifts in order and downloaded the route to the boat, and switched off the projection.

Now to the tackle for the day. The flies were of my Grandfather’s devising and tying. Now too delicate to use they had been archived in a permacube, but not before I had scanned them and printed exact copies. It is now possible to print perfect imitations of insect life with nanobots to produce life-like movement. Indeed, I recently received a vid promoting a damselfly imitation that actually flew across the water. I was convinced it was a fake, generated by CGI until I saw the Ministry of Information watermark. Such things were not in my plans for this trip.

The line was my only concession to modernity, a colonite polymer seemed to fit the bill. The rod was a carbon affair that my Son had left in my keeping the day he told me of his emigration plans. The reel was of brass, a ridiculously heavy thing made by my Father. The boat was mine, when I bought it it was a state-of-the-art aluminium beast noted as being “lightweight”! Now, equipped with today’s motors and scanners and all such, I could not move it alone.

Other items of fishing memorabilia were on display in the main room. Pride of place was taken by an original, chemical, photograph taken in the hotel bar. Centre of a large group of anglers stood my Father and Grandfather holding the corpse of a giant trout. This would serve as something of a challenge for my young Grandson as I intended to task him with pointing out all the other eco-crimes the image displayed. The dead fish was all-to-obvious, as was the coal fire. Would he realise that the bottles on the wall contained alcohol? The wood bar, the wool carpet, the leather shoes?

There was little else to check, for over a year the weather forecast had been for ideal fishing conditions- warm enough for a hatch, overcast and a slight southerly breeze to put a ripple on the water and the twenty-four hour update showed no change- they never do nowadays.

The incoming alarm sounded, the moment had arrived, and I stepped outside as the pod hovered down onto the pad and my Grandson stepped out. My offered handshake of welcome quickly became a bear hug as the pod departed.

“This is going to be the best fishing day of my life,” he said, continuing “as long as we get a fish, any fish!”

“Trout,” I corrected him. “There are pike in there but this is a traditional trip.”

There was no time to lose as we stepped inside and he marvelled at the collection of angling ephemera, not least the reproduction of glass-cased, stuffed fish that his Great-Grandfather had proudly hung on the bar wall until it was lost in the fire.

His performance in the eco-crime detection challenge was pathetic, but his selection of fare for a traditional packed lunch was spot on until he confessed that he had asked his Father the night before.

Now was the time to hand him his rod, reel and line for the day.

“It’s a manual!” He exclaimed, “How do you cast with this? My Dad had one as a boy.”

“That is your Dad’s,” I replied, “I gave it to him for his tenth birthday.”

He examined the set up carefully as I explained the origins of each item and we stepped outside to give it a try.

His first cast was near as perfect as I have ever seen and he laughed at my shocked expression.

“I thought you would pull a stunt like this,” he explained, “I have been practising in a simulator for months.”

Beaten, I led him down to the rock. I had sent the kit bags on ahead and we changed, climbed into the boat and hovered to the start of the first drift . He bent forward to lift the lid on the scanner screen.

“No.” I said, “for recording only, fish by sight, not by scanner.”

“You are serious about this tradition stuff aren’t you? If we stuck with tradition we’d still be living in caves!” He moaned.

“Not much different from the cramped domes you call home.” I countered. “My boat, my rules. Cast to the rises. Let’s fish.”

The first two drifts were unproductive though there were fish rising all around us. He looked longingly at the scanner but I just shook my head. Thankfully I managed to take a small trout at the beginning of the third drift, proving that it could be done. He took some comfort in that and applied himself to the task in hand.

There was a large swirl in the water well ahead of us and way beyond my casting range but he covered it expertly. Expectantly he shifted position in the boat as the fly landed. In doing so, the brass reel came within millimetres of the hull, there was a small spark and he twitched in fright.

“Just static” I said, “nice cast though.”

There was another, larger, swirl around the fly, the line went taught and he tightened into it,the rod bent alarmingly. He was into a fish, and a good one at that.

I switched the boat to manual control and watched as he played his fish. Expertly he brought the rod tip down such that I could clip the auto-release bot to the line. The fish was tiring and I picked up the net, pointed it down into the peaty waters of the loch and switched it on. The red laser lattice of the pseudo-net appeared in the water. After a few minutes that seemed like an eternity he brought the fish over the net and I raised the handle. There was a satisfying bleep, the lattice turned green and the release bot shot down the line and unhooked the fish unharmed, as the law requires.

My Grandson was elated. “Three kilos in anybody’s gravity!” he shouted.

I had my doubts as he made to upload the vid from the scanners to post on his lifepage. “Wait a minute, fishermen tell tall tales, wait for confirmation.” I insisted.

The Ministry of Information watermark appeared within seconds, confirming a true representation of the facts without manipulation. Again he made to post the vid, again I bade him wait. A few seconds later a block of text was superimposed on the vid, bottom left, with a second watermark this time from the Ministry of Aquaculture.

The text read - “Wild Brown Trout. Caught on the fly. Weight 2.63 kilos.”

“What the hell is that?” my Grandson whispered, staring at the screen in disbelief.

I explained that it was a new application, still under development.

Still shaking his head he asked how I got hold of it. I explained that I was a beta-tester. This did not convince him, “Why you?” he asked.

I tapped my forefinger to the side of my nose, “friends in high places” was all I would say. The truth of the matter was just one friend in the highest of places, the Minister for Aquaculture was an old angling buddy, we had fished this loch together many a time.

He accepted the secrecy of my reply but disputed the accuracy of the weight of the fish. “You’ll make a very fine traditional angler,” I laughed, “disputing the weight of the catch is an essential part of your development. But the result is accurate, I’ve been testing this kit for months now. Go ahead and post it to your lifepage, but close friends only and no shares. The vid is imprinted with the GPS data and we do not want to give the location away.”

He nodded his agreement, tapping the screen at a speed well beyond my capabilities.

My weekly VidComs to the Colony over many years had taught me the exact delay encountered in communication and I counted the seconds silently. Though it was the middle of the “night” on Base Four I knew there was someone waiting impatiently for a update on this particular fishing adventure. Sure enough, right on time, my Son’s voice came through my earpiece.

“Great job Dad, from one of the lies we found years ago, fine fish too.”

I did not bother to point out that it was a lie that his Great-Grandfather had plotted a century ago. I pressed the acknowledge button, I’d send the complete report later. Time was passing and there was fishing to be done.

The next two drifts produced a couple of decent fish at under five hundred grams each and it was time for something to eat.

The boat held position silently as my Grandson caught up with replies to his lifepage post. That done, he asked “What’s with the static, is that normal in traditional fishing?”

I said it was not but was probably on account of the strange combination of equipment he was using. His clothing provided electrical insulation from the aluminium boat as did the cork butt on the rod, the reel was bare brass in a metal reel seat connected to a carbon fibre rod. The line rings were also metal. The line was a colonite polymer and his false casting could build up static in the set up, discharged when he earthed it by touching the reel to the side of the boat.

He tried a few false casts and repeated touching the reel to the side, sure enough a small spark appeared.

“It scared the shit out of you the first time,” I continued, “you jumped like a startled rabbit!”

“I did, didn’t I,” he chuckled, “like this.”

He repeated the process, the fly landing perfectly, and finished with an exaggerated jump when the spark appeared.

And hooked a fish.

Nothing special, not even a trout, but a very small jack pike. We did not bother with the net and released it immediately before turning to the scanner screen. The pike was in view before the fly landed, only on the spark and the resultant twitch of the fly when my Grandson jumped did it turn towards the lure and race to the take.

“Pike are ambush predators, that is what I would expect one to do.” I offered somewhat feebly.

“Perhaps yes, perhaps no. But we have to be sure.” he replied. I could not argue with that and I ordered the boat to another productive lie.

The scanners were in full use now and showed up to four trout cruising within casting range. We selected the biggest, still nothing special, and he made his false casts before landing the fly right above it, discharging the static and twitching the fly. The fish took but, more importantly, the other three trout in view all raced towards the lure, beaten only by distance.

Quickly released, we repeated the experiment three or four times with exactly the same result every time. We sat back in silence. Thousands of years of traditional fly fishing were over and it was our fault. But anglers are anglers.

The scan that I had conducted early that morning was not one hundred percent accurate. I had set it to ignore any fish other than trout but anomalies occur in the depths of the loch and the recognition algorithm is not perfect. Nonetheless I reviewed the data and found the lie of the largest fish detected and, still without a word, set course for that stretch of water.

On arrival,“You concentrate on fishing,” I ordered, “I’ll deal with the scanners.”

There was indeed a big fish cruising about and not a pike. It could be a salmon but they are both rare and not native being the descendants of escapees from the fish farm decades ago, before they were banned. But there was a remote chance.

Taking control of the boat, I waited until the fish was directly below the point that I had insisted he cast to, and the closest fish in view. I had still not told him of my plans but he cast as instructed, sparked the reel and twitched the fly.

The giant took the proffered Peter Ross with the fly set perfectly in the scissors. The rod bent to an alarming degree as the fish took a long run. I began to doubt the wisdom of using such antiquated tackle but soon realised that without this unique combination we would not have a fish on.

It was a fit beast, it took over ten minutes before my Grandson was in sufficient control that I could fix the auto-release bot to the line. He continued his tussle whilst I fumbled with the net. The lattice would have to be set much wider than ever before and I could not remember how it was done. Seeing my confusion, Grandson spoke for the first time.

“Menu Three, Page Two, Set Lattice, Select Maximum, Press OK, Confirm,” he screamed. I did as instructed and the red beams spread out in the water below me.

Many more minutes passed before the fish was over the net. In my haste, I missed it and cursed. Patiently he played it again and brought it to the boat. This time I took my time and the bleep and change of colour brought welcome relief. The auto-release bot set off to perform its part in proceedings but did not seem up to the task on such a large fish. After another seeming eternity, the fish was free, the catch confirmed.

“It was a trout” I spluttered.

“Fourteen kilos, I think, but I have been wrong before.” he replied.

“You are wrong again, more than that, ten kilos is the record for this loch, fifteen for a wild brown trout, it could be, it just could be.” was all I could say.

We marvelled at the vid on the scanner. The confirming watermark from the Ministry of Information came up in due time and we held our breath for the data from the Ministry of Aquaculture. Not that we could do without oxygen for the time required. The screen went blank to be replaced with the message- “Confirmed Wild Brown Trout (Ferox), fly caught, weight beyond know limits, manual confirmation required, please wait.” Again the screen went blank to be replaced with the hourglass symbol.

After another age in silence the screen changed again to show a spotty youth in a labcoat in front of a bank of electronics.

                                                                                                    

“Congratulations. A record fish, eighteen point four three kilos. No record of any stocking or feeding in that water. The last DNA survey was only a year ago, nothing other than a pure, wild strain. No doubt it is a trout. The spot pattern matches a fish we have seen four times over the years in the electro surveys, so it has not been introduced. You are going to be even more famous Wild Colonial Boy. I’ve let the newsfeeds know. They’ll be in touch.”

The screen went blank rendering my screamed curses in vain.

.

“They can’t do that!” I told my Grandson and put my head in my hands “you are covered by the privacy laws and we will have every man and his dog fishing here trying to catch it again.”

The screen lit up again, this time we were looking at my friend, the Minister for Aquaculture. I left him in no doubt about how I felt about his spotty technician, policy, my Grandson’s privacy, fishing pressure, his parentage and much else until I ran out of breath and curses.

“And a very good day to you too,” the Minister replied and continued with “let me explain”.

“The Ministry’s remit includes promoting angling, we could not let this pass. The fish, and location, would have appeared in you licence return anyway.” He held up his hand to silence me as I started to protest. “Yes, I know very few people read the returns but they are open to the public. It is only the trophy-hunters that you wish to prevent from getting a licence to fish your loch that check the returns for this kind of information. We know who and where they are, they will not get a licence to chase your fish, there are other restrictions I can, and will, apply. Rest easy.”

“As to newsfeed intrusion on your Grandson, the legal edict only applied whilst he was engaged in his studies. That ran out when he qualified. If you missed it, the old adage -what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas- is now law in that state, so there was no intrusion there. They missed him in Paris, though the alias he used to book into the hotel was rather obvious.”

My Grandson blushed. “Jack Duggan” he confessed, “I thought it was funny.”

“Indeed” said the Minister. “To business. I will delay the newsfeeds until they have a Ministerial statement from myself. Remember, you can select which channel you wish to give exclusive rights to. You also hold copyright on all the scanner data and vids, edit them carefully and only release that which you want to. I can only delay for about twenty minutes, use the time carefully. You owe me one.”

I nodded agreement, and the screen went blank. He was correct in every detail and he had given us a chance. I did owe him.

Whilst my Grandson set himself to the task of editing the vids, I set the boat back to the rock. The fishing trip was over and it still was not lunchtime. My inbox was already full of exclusive rights bids from all the major channels, all very generous. I set autoreply to dismiss them all, they ignored my dismissals and increased their bids for a few minutes before giving up. There was no bid from the Colony channel, they had not the funds to compete, and were astounded when I mailed with an offer of a twenty-four hour exclusive, free of charge.

Ashore, we left everything in the boat bar the rod, reel, line and fly and sent it to be locked, out of sight, in the boathouse. The interview would take place by the rock with a background of silver birch. Futile perhaps, when the GPS data was to be in the public domain but the least we could give away the better.

We reviewed the edited vid, the take was omitted, just a few seconds of the fish underwater, my Grandson playing the fish, and the confirmed catch and release. All with the required watermark and statement of weight.

I was now in constant touch with the Colony channel news editor who was growing evermore impatient with the delay in receiving the Ministerial statement.

She was desperate to know make and model for all the equipment used in the capture of what she referred to as “the monster fish”. Her disappointment was palpable when she discovered that all but the manufacturer of the line no longer existed and that there was now no chance of her selling sponsorship/advertising on the back of her exclusive. With that revenue option closed, she moved to the angle she would take on the story. The record fish was of secondary importance, it was who had caught it and how. The contrast between modernity and “antiquated practices” as she put it. It took some argument, and the threat of removing exclusive rights, before she agree to use the term “traditional”.

We had used the twenty minutes my friend had provided as best we could and the interview drone now hovered in front of my Grandson. He told his story well, held up the rod for inspection, refused to be captioned “Wild Colonial Boy”, insisting on “Doctor of Advanced Particle Physics”. The remote news anchor knew nothing of angling and asked no pertinent questions on that subject. We had given nothing away.

Seconds later the story featured as breaking news with the banner “Colony’s top young physicist resorts to traditional methods to catch record trout”. Not perfect, but it could have been a lot worse.

We switched all communications to private mode and returned to the house. There was still more to do.

My Grandson studied the old images of glass-cased specimen fish for a few minutes and sat himself down by the printer controls. With regret I dismantled the rod, stripping the line from the reel. Rod and reel I then placed in archival storage, never to be used again. I contacted the Recyclers and relinquished the aluminium boat and ordered the latest model. I was a few euros to the good over that deal.

The printer hummed and produced a bow-fronted glass case with a life-size model of the record fish within. The gold lettering gave date, weight and captor along with the legend “Taken by traditional methods.”. This case was duly hung in pride of place.

Finally we settled down to reflect on the morning’s events.

“We did the right thing,” my Grandson started the conversation, “what we discovered is not fishing, it really is shooting fish in a barrel. We have left very few clues behind, and destroyed most of the evidence. It will be forgotten in a few days or put down to luck. Nobody fishes for salmon in the same method as Georgina Ballantine anyway.”

I had to agree, but, even then, a quick glance at the adverts would have shown me that the major tackle manufacturers were already promoting rods, reels and flies in traditional designs as “coming soon”. Once again, anglers would spend hard-earned cash on gear that simply would not catch more or bigger fish.

“It is rather like my research,” Grandson continued.

I admitted that I could not see the link between angling and advanced particle physics, further confessing that I had no idea of what he had actually been doing for the last four years.

“You don’t need to understand the science, it is in the implications that knowledge truly lies.” That was a bit deep for me, so I asked him to explain.

“We made a discovery this morning, we do not know exactly how it works, but we understood the implications and put a halt to things. Many of those who made the discoveries or inventions of the past had no idea of the implications. The earliest steam engines were for pumping water from mines nobody foresaw the Industrial Revolution. Colt developed mass production for guns, Ford thought up production lines for cars and they became the model for all production until the coming of printers. Rocketry was designed for war, not space flight.”

I still did not get it.

“We saw the implications” he repeated, “The end of sporting angling. And we had the wisdom to try and prevent that happening.”

“It is in our genes. Think, for a minute. Go back to the rock. Your Grandfather, your Father, you, my Dad, me. We all have one thing in common, what is it?

“Fishing”,was my obvious answer, but he shook his head.

“No, we all saw the implications of advances in science and technology. Adopted or invested in them early and reaped the rewards.”

It was my turn to shake my head.

“Nonsense”, he countered, “beta tester for the fish weight application? That boat may be an antique but those scanners are state-of-the-art.”

Beaten again, I thought on things for a while and had to allow for the possibility, but genetics was a doubtful theory and I still could not understand the involvement of particle physics, and said so.

He pointed out of the window, towards the sun.

“We know the physics of the sun and the universe, we can predict the weather a year in advance, but have no idea how that swallow migrates for thousands of miles each year, and the answer can only be genetic”.

I watched the bird swooping and catching flies in flight and something of an understanding dawned, but not the involvement particle physics and said so.

He did not waste any time trying to explain the details of his research and cut to the chase. The theory had been tested in the laboratory and proved true on a small scale. The findings would have practical use when scaled up, but that could only be done in the lower gravity of the Colony. I nodded my understanding, a novel method of making just about any complex compound from basic ores would, indeed, represent a breakthrough. That it was cheap and energy efficient was a boon that came with the price that many industries would now be redundant. History is littered with such events in the name of progress but I could not see the implication beyond that, and apologised for my ignorance.

“You will be the fifth person alive to know it,” he announced without the melodrama that such a remark would have warranted, “the Colony will no longer rely on Home for anything. Anything. We can become independent, not only that, we will have the capability to explore and colonise further. It is not just the industries of Home that will become redundant, but Home itself.”

Our morning’s breakthrough in angling was now insignificant, the only link was the obvious need for secrecy. Then the inkling dawned that there was profit to be made from such information. I would be reviewing my investments.

We continued our conversation through most of the afternoon and pretty much exhausted the possibilities before swapping angling tales of increasing untruthfulness. He checked the time, there was just over an hour to go before he would have to leave. “Back to the rock, please Grandad, there is one more thing.”

I doubted that the day could hold another surprise, and once again was wrong. As we sat down on the granite oval, a bleep signalled the imminent arrival of a pod. It could only be the one to take him from me and end the day but it was an hour early which dismayed me greatly. That showed on my face.

“Don’t worry,” he smiled “just wait.”

The pod appeared and settled in front of us. A private one, a duo, and ruddy expensive at that. The door opened and out stepped the girl from the vids of the fishing trips and the graduation. She and my Grandson kissed, I dropped my eyes and even the pod removed itself to a discrete distance. She held out her hand in introduction.

“Billie, Billie Gates, pleased to meet you. You’ve had an eventful day.”

“No shit, Sherlock”, I thought, but merely answered “Yes”.

“How was Paris?” my Grandson asked.

“The best shopping ever! The autumn collections are just out, I spent a small fortune!”

“Why bother?” I asked (diplomacy is not my strong point) “You can do that remotely and print what you buy.”

“I am a traditionalist” was her reply, I was losing count of the number of times I had been bettered this day.

She opened her screen and began scrolling through the images of her purchases. Us men muttered the usual pleasantries “Nice, Very Nice, I like that one.” and so on, trying to feign both knowledge of, and interest in, female fashion. To relieve the boredom I tallied the expense. It was, indeed, a fortune and not a small one. Her hand flashed across the screen, how could one person need so many shoes?

Then the bracelet on her wrist caught my eye, a simple copper band with the Colony logo and the single word “Selected”. Instinctively I looked to her left hand and the diamond ring on the third finger. My Grandson was following family tradition by getting married upon graduation.

I interrupted her presentation. “One more thing,?” I said to my Grandson, “I count two, the bracelet and the ring.”

“Well spotted. They are connected,” was his reply, “but, before you jump to conclusions, Billie’s selection was on merit, not as a result of her family’s wealth. Billie is joint author of the research paper that will be published next month. She knows the implication.”

“Well, this is a select little group,” was my response “three out of the five, who are the other two?”

“Mum and Dad.” was my Grandson’s reply “I think we will limit our angling discovery to the same few.”

That spurred Billie’s interest, and we told her the story of the day’s events. Yet again, another momentous day ended with fishing tales being told whilst seated on the rock.

All too quickly the time came for departure and the pod moved back to claim it’s passengers. Another goodbye was imminent.

“You are taking a whole laboratory with you back to the Colony, can you sneak this in? Consider it an engagement present.” I reached into my pocket and withdrew a small, wooden, fly box of my own making and opened it to reveal my Grandfather’s flies.

“Traditional Scottish Loch Wets,” I announced, and identified each in turn, “Black Pennel, Dunkeld, Alexandra”, and half a dozen more before ending with “Peter Ross”.

“We will find space.” was their reply and the day was done in a flurry of brief goodbyes.

I neither ate nor slept that night, but sat on the rock watching that little red dot course across the heavens.

My Grandson’s research was duly published and the implication dawned on all of humanity. The process of the Colony’s independence began without fuss, a war of independence was impossible across such distances, but events were much the same as history teaches us. A constitution was drafted, agreed and signed. Politicians tackled the new era as best they could. My Son left behind bio-engineering and became the elected Senator for Base Four.

Here on Home things were changing too. Traditional angling was now all the rage, the record was broken by a few grams by a fish on Loch Awe. My friend, the Minister for Aquaculture resigned his post amidst a whiff of scandal and allegations of his issuing licences to selected friends and suppressing damaging research results on the fish farming industry. If nothing else, it gave him more time for fishing and it was no surprise when he announced his intention to visit me.

His pod arrived on schedule and I welcomed him to my home. He took one look at the record fish, cased on the wall and announced “Caught by traditional methods my arse.” I ignored that and we spent an entertaining day on the water with a few good fish. As tradition demands, we ended the day dining on the rock.

The ex-Minister began his tale.

“Back in the bad old days of fish farm cages in the lochs a major problem was aggression amongst the fish. Fin-nipping and the like may have appeared cosmetic but represented a considerable loss to the industry. When we moved to land-based tanks nothing improved, if anything the aggression became worse. An awful lot of man hours was spent chasing a solution. One idea seemed promising. It has long been known that the lateral line on fish responded to electrical stimuli, the notion was to find a frequency that would calm the fish down. Electro-hypnosis if you like. We spent a fortune on the project, to no avail. I reviewed the results and closed the project down, but the vids I watched reminded me of something. The way the fish turned and darted when a point source of electrical stimulation was applied.”

He wagged his finger at me and continued.

“Remember, I am the only person other that yourself and your Grandson to have seen all the scanner data and images of the taking of the fish represented on your wall. The duty technician was only interested in confirming the weight. I had a statement to prepare. You edited the vids, and only released less than one per cent of the data. I’ve been fishing with you too many times not to recognise your insistence on traditional methods and the gear you used. A carbon rod, brass reel and that ridiculous metal boat of yours. I worked it out and had a small, select research team check it. Static caught that fish, not traditional methods, and your dedication to the old ways meant that you kept quiet. I admire that, and over the years you have managed to convince of the merits of fishing in the old style. So the report was never published.”

“I owe you,” I replied. Once again the rock was a place of secrets and revelations.

“Perhaps, but nothing lasts forever. My, em, involvement in matters of that sort came to the attention of my superiors. I was offered the chance to resign and keep my pension or be the subject of an investigation and lose it. No brainer. That I decided against publication does not mean that there are no records of the work done. My successor in office is trawling through the files looking for just that. He has already found that one.”

Another bombshell. Surely fishing in such a manner would be banned I opined.

My friend was doubtful, we had not persuaded our European partners to legislate for compulsory catch and release, the strong tradition of hunting across the Atlantic, the taste for wild food in China and Japan, the list seemed endless.

He was right, of course, a few waters did ban the practice but the majority allowed it. Traditional fishing was over.

Much time passed since the events of the long planned fishing trip and its unintended consequences.

Today is another special day- the first anniversary of the Colony’s independence.

It is also the day that the Colony Senate enacts the legislation that bans static angling (as it has come to be known) on all its waters. This had been a key element of the first President’s election manifesto, along with the retention of many of the old ways of Home.

Many were surprised at this, not me. The President had made the point that however young and forward looking the Colony was, it would fail if it did not respect, and learn from, the past. Technology was a tool, not an end in itself.

Wise man the President. But then, when I introduced my Son to fishing, it was always going to be in the traditional manner.

Ken Brown drinks and fishes responsibly in Glen Garry, but having squandered his retirement fund on fishing tackle, is forced to eke out a meagre pension by selling Scottish Highland Art Prints.

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