In the little kayak, I paddled out across the bay through tangled mats of weeds until I was almost to the rocky island on the other side. I put the paddle across my lap and waited, drifting slightly. No motorboats come down to this end of the bay; it’s too shallow and weedy. The light wind sent ripples through the cattails and the yellow irises in the marsh. I was all alone, just floating amidst the lily pads.
Something splashed, just a few feet from the bow of the kayak. A thick, scaly body reached up out of the mud and then plunged down again. A dark shadow raced toward my kayak. It knocked against the hull with a thump, then flipped and splashed, leaving a trail of bubbles. Through the muddy water, I could see the gleaming sides of a body twisting and turning.
The carp were spawning. In the muddy water, they darted and leaped, breaking the surface of the water the way that sharks might. My little kayak weighs 36 pounds, so light that I can carry it with one hand. Some of the carp are heavy than that, reaching 40 pounds or more. Earlier, I saw a dead, bloated carp floating, the size of a small dog.
They are just fish, I told myself, as they swam through, nudging my kayak out of their way as they churn through the weeds and mud, leaving tangled weeds in their wake. Just fish, I repeated to myself, as the kayak swayed from the impact, and I imagined tentacles reaching up to pull me into the muddy water.