Mad Cows

We had finally got the chance of a lifetime to visit England in our hopes to trace the roots of carp fishing. Our only problem was the Foot and Mouth virus epidemic. We didn't want to accidentally spread the infection but we were determined to fish some of the legendary carp waters. On our first day out, my fishing partner George and I scouted out Redmired lake, one of the more historically important lakes on our tour. Unfortunately for us it was in the vicinity of a cow farm with big No Fishing No Trespassing signs posted everywhere. George and me have seen many No Fishing signs in our times and we decided a little British sign wouldn’t stop us.

Our first problem was that the bailiff for Redmired lake was notoriously effective in dissuading guests. Since we are Americans there was no way they were going to let us even get close enough to their lake to even take a picture, they always prefer to keep the barbarians outside the gate, why they always think that whenever they see George I never understood. George came up with a brilliant plan, since the lake was so near to a farm we would simply dress up like a cow and mosey over to the lakes edge. Once close enough to the lake we could hide in the bushes, shed the cow disguise and go fishing. We borrowed a very lifelike cow costume from the local theater. George and me have been friends for a long time, but it didn't surprise either of us when the other refused to be the rear end of the cow. The details relating to our respective positions in either the front or rear end of the cow would just slow things down a lot so we will just skip over that part as not important enough to waste our time with. Lets just say that it's a good thing we are good friends and another good thing that George had taken a shower early in the morning because the rear end of a cow suite is the hot end to be stuck in.

We drove our tiny Euro car with its pitifully small whining little engine out to a forested area adjacent to Redmired Lake. With no one around we slipped quietly into our cow suit. Our rods on our back to help fill out the backbone of the beast, our reels and bait in the big pocket under its belly on my end. Our first obstacle was navigating the fence that surrounded the field. We attempted to climb it but were quickly slammed onto our backs by the wayward fence. We had to finally undo ourselves and go over one half at a time which was awkward, but not as awkward as having to give George a boost from behind as would have happened if we stayed together and tried to assault the fence again.

Our next challenge was that we had forgotten how a cow walks. Do both front legs go at once followed by the back legs or did they alternate front right leg with rear right leg. We tried several combinations and each resulted in our frequent falling. We realized if we were spotted falling all over the place the farmer might get the idea we had mad cow disease and put us out of our misery. George finally got the idea of both right legs move in unison followed by both left legs. I don't know if this is correct or not. Even though I live in the countryside I have to admit to never really looking at how cows walk, but we figured a strange gait was preferable to falling all over the field. Once we got the hang of walking we made a beeline to the lake.

One problem instantly revealed itself, and that was how hot the cow suit was even in morning sun. George had to stop and take many rest stops along the way. It's a good thing he had the foresight to pretend to be feeding at the time when the farmer rode down through the field on his little tractor with its much to small little Euro motor. The farmer had come down to nail up more No Trespassing signs. Then he noticed the hole in the fence made by Georges aborted attempt to cross the fence together and stopped to fix that. All during this time we pretended to be grazing but the farmer kept giving us strange looks. We hadn’t realized that upon seeing the farmer out in the field the bored cows decided to wonder over and see if he had any cow feed on him. When they discovered the farmer was without food they quickly became bored with him and wondered over to us thinking we had found a great patch of tasty grass.

Cows look cute and timid when you are driving down the road in your car and they are standing around chewing their cud in the middle of a nice green field. That is not the way it really is with cows as we soon found out. First, the nice green field proved to be paved with big round piles of wet slimy cow poop that makes walking in a cow suit very very traumatic. Then we found out that cows wrestle and jostle each other out of the way to be in control of the tastiest bit of grass. We found ourselves being pushed from each side and poked with little stubby cow horns. We made our way to the edge of the herd and began to shuffle over towards the lake. Then this big cow got in our way and wouldn't bugger off, it kept trying to steer us back into the main herd and wouldn't be put off. It kept sniffing where a real cows naughty bits are located and started to become rude by pushing us around with its head. Then it began to serenade us with cow bellows and snorts that were oddly romantic. That is when I realized our boilies must have been giving off some aroma that the big cow liked and it was turning it on something fierce. I got out my boilie needle and decided I would have to resort to drastic action to get us out of our dire situation. I jabbed George firmly with the boilie needle, he let out a yelp that scared the other cows into a stampede even while he took off for the lake. I could barely keep up and was taking one step to every five of Georges, he apparently forgetting about our trying to blend in with the other cows and getting our steps out of synch.

Another fence loomed ahead but George didn't even slow down for it and took a big leap that carried us both over the fence with minimal damage to us except that Georges action had really gotten the suit steaming and I was regretting my position in the cow. It's the little victories in life that sometimes satisfies us, and we congratulated each other for our victory over the fence, the farmer and his stupid cows and we were really glad not to have learned any more about cow romance than was necessary. We found some nice bushes in the peg we recognized as "The Big Tall Willow" from our research on Redmired lake. Our gear was simple, a bankstick with a bite alarm, a hair rig and some boilies. We figured all the British carp were fed nothing but boilies so we decided to keep out bait simple and just go with the musk flavoured boilies. We had chosen the boilies based not on their flavour but because they were dark and it would be easy to hide our baiting up activities.

In no time at all we started to get bites on the boilies which surprised us since this was supposed to be the hardest lake to fish in England. In the excitement of fishing I forgot where I was for a minute and accidentally adjusted my bite alarm to full blast which is where I usually leave it set, after all what is the point of having a bite alarm if not everyone can hear it. A long screaming run instantly signaled the end to our fishing trip as we could hear the baliff cursing even before he started dropping a shell in his shotgun. Knowing trouble when we hear it we instantly packed up and took our respective positions in the cow suit. There was no time for arguing the finer points of each taking their turn in the front as we could hear the bailiff rounding the Big Willow. He stopped when he saw us standing there pretending to be eating some grass. He cursed again, something about bloody bleeding cows pooping all over his lake. George and I both came up with the same idea and each of us mooed in unison. That startled the bailiff, he had never heard a cow with two mooers before. At that he cursed us again savagely before he leveled his shotgun and fired. My end of the cow suit got most of the salt, and it ended up in my end. I took off but was slowed down by Georges still trying to pretend to eat grass. I knew it would look funny if a cow ran away backwards so I got my trusty rusty boilie needle out again, this time though it was dulled from its previous use and I really had to sink the sucker in deep to get the proper response from George.

We were over the fence and half way through the cow field before the baliff had enough time to reload. George tired and collapsed in a heap from the sprint. I looked through a hole torn by the fence in the suit and could see the farmer giving us weird looks again. I went to prod George once more to give him the proper attitude to act like a fast cow. The farmer picked up a long thick stick and began to slowly and carefully walk over to us. We mooed again together which confused the farmer long enough for me to find my boilie needle again. It was really dull now but with all my might I gave George some incentive to start running again. This time when he took off I wasn't ready and we parted company as George tore threw the field without his other half and I stumbled along behind, glad for the fresh air, but worried what effect we might have on the farmer. As I neared the fence I stopped and turned around for one last look at Redmired Lake, it was beautiful. The bailiff was just standing their staring out into the field where the farmer was also just standing and staring. Realizing that chaos is usually our best defense George and I hoped into our little bitty Euro car and cranked its little itty-bitty motor up to full throttle and almost spun some gravel out from under the wheels. It was at this time that we passed the cop who was coming over to investigate the shot that was fired. We looked at each other, two cow halves agreed right then and there that it was better to risk a crash in our little tiny car than have to explain to the cops, the farmer, the bailiff and possible to the big cow just what we were up to out in the countryside this early in the morning.

By Oatmeal Jack, April 2001, Potomac River, WV, USA

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