Flèche wrote this story at the “begining” of Le Mouching, when we only had a couple of readers and when we were still only speaking French. Now ,Flèche has translated his story and we thought it was a good way to start 2015, enjoy! 

From Brooklyn take the “L” train to Union Square in Manhattan; change to the Lexington and get off at 110th Street, at the north end of Central Park.

le mouching, fly fishing, MEERThere you’ll discover a little lake, the Harlem Meer, a big bathtub at the edge of Spanish Harlem.

Of course I always take my flyrod and a metal box filled with nymphs.
After mounting my rod I take a turn around the Lake. Other “fishermen” are there but of course, they are not all fishing. Some of them are sitting on benches joking, eating hot-dogs, giving crumbs to the ducks and the swans, warming themselves in the Autumn sun.le mouching, fly fishing, park

Pedro is there; it’s such a long time that I haven’t seen him! FISHING GUIDE AT CENTRAL PARK… you couldn’t even invent that. But my friend Pedro, it’s 25 years that he’s been wetting his line in the “Harlem Meer”. He’s happy to see me and me too, I’m happy to see him.

“It’s been ages since I last saw you Frenchy… where you been?”

“I’ve been in France my friend, like every year… 6 months here, 6 months over there!”

“Lucky bastard! … and how’s the fishing in your country?”

“Not so bad! But I assure you, it’s not as folkloric as it is here! And you Pedro, are you still a guide near Canada on the Salmon River?”

“Don’t remind me of that Frenchy… My back is killing me and I can’t run after those Ontario salmon and steelheads! I had an operation but it didn’t change anything, I’m just an old bag of fat!”

“Tell me, I don’t see Ernesto. Is he still fishing?”

“He’s back in the slammer… for 6 months. Some guy thought he could slap his mother around, so Ernesto took a baseball bat and clubbed him over the head.”

I should explain about Pedro, for 25 years he has served as fishing guide and social assistant at the lake. This good samaritan has moved any number of young hoods off the streets, taken them under his wing and helped them discover that there are other things beside “dope” and machete… that is considerable.

There should be a statue erected in Pedro’s honor; this big, black, puerto rican always has a flyrod and tons of boxes filled with flies for salmon, flies for bonefish, flies for steelhead, his toys and he adores showing them, like rare jewels… always a smile, always kind.Le mouching, fly fishing, pêcheur

“Hey, Fleche, do you still have those miraculous nymphs, the ones with the little white wings?”

“Pedro, you mean to tell me that you remember that crap, the ones that looks like nose snot?”

“Of course… they were very attractive, those “Prince nymphs”. Here, take this one… I just mounted it. It’s my own invention… You’ll be amazed.”

“Mmm, I can’t wait… OK, I’m going to see what’s behind the island. Are they still there, the chinese with their mortal spoons?”

“They’re still there, so don’t bother… why don’t you go and fish on the ramp by the skating ring or on the side by the hot-dog stand?”

You see, that’s what it’s like. That’s the “Harlem Meer”and there’s nothing like it anywhere, nothing.

While I’m there the herons, little savages, come begging to fill their obese stomachs. On the grass at the lake’s edge, there’s a group of guys practicing karate while across the street in the prison, the “bad guys”, taking advantage of their time outdoor on the roof, watch them through the fence topped with razor wire.

And then there’s the Cuban, an incredible guy who spends the entire day going around the lake on his bicycle with a “boom box” that plays the latest “salsa” hits. His bicycle is decorated with a hodgepodge of cuban flags and all sorts of garish and flashy stuff. And all the while he’s singing, or more like hollering Tito Puente songs like “Machito forever”.

It is FANTASTIC!Le mouching, fly fishing, école

And now for the serious stuff. I attach a nymph to the end of my line and “hop”, we’re off. Right away a sunfish… and then another… and again one! You have to understand that this lake is, in principle, a NO KILL reserve and in spite of the number of guys who dip their lines here, there’s plenty of fish in the lake. OK, it’s true… they’re not monsters nor are they “noble fish”, but it’s enough for the kids of Harlem to have a good time. The lake guards furnish the kids, for free, with fishing rods and all the supplies needed; all this in hope of brain washing them with a taste for “nature”. The guards also teach them to release their catch back into the lake. Great, no?

A group of young students from a school nearby pass behind me and a little black girl, cute as a button, mockingly asks me: “So mister… any bites?”

I respond: “Less than 5 minutes ago I snagged a white shark, not too big, but still!”

The kids crack up. And me too. They continue on their way and I see the little blue and white uniforms disappear into the park.

And the crazy Cuban makes another pass with “Hong Kong mambo” as loud as possible. This moron, he’s going to make me cry with pleasure.Le Mouching, fly fishing, performance