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Fishing the Charles

4.10.14

Fishing, anyone? The Weeks Footbridge and Charles River await.

Fishing, anyone? The Weeks Footbridge and Charles River await.

Photograph by Harvard Magazine/JC

Like most children who grew up in the Virginia countryside, I spent an inordinate portion of my youth fishing. And having been conditioned to regard football and automobiles as second in sanctity only to a day on the river, I was immediately vulnerable to a blockmate’s suggestion in early November that we drop a hook into the Charles.

We’d heard that people went fishing on the Esplanade shores all the time, pulling carp and catfish from the confluence of the Charles River’s muddy waters. And we’d heard of a good spot of warm-water outfall by the steam plant where there were apparently large carp. But being busy (nay: lazy) Harvard students, it was hard to justify the 15-minute ride on the T. So instead we decided to try fishing on the piece of the Charles behind Harvard—the strip between Dunster and Eliot Houses. Neither of us had ever seen anyone fish from the bank there, but, as my blockmate put it, “A river’s a river.”

And so there we were, one mid November morning: he cast the rod he had sent from back home, and I tied lines from atop Weeks Footbridge, lifting the lures every time a cruiser or kayak passed too close, gunning for the crappies and rank to heed our bait, counting the geese that scuttled about.

By afternoon our take was nil, but the two of us agreed it was one of the best mornings we’d had all semester: a chance to do nothing—deliberately—for a few hours, before ambling back to our dorm rooms to read, study, and write papers like the rest of our classmates.

For now, the fish wait. But with the river now thawed and my thesis turned in, I hope to recast soon.

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