Saturday, April 18, 2009
Penny's Bend on the Eno
Friday night. The phone rings. It’s my fishing buddy Mike P. “What are you doing tomorrow?” he asks. I tell him about Mary’s and my plans to wash the cars, move some plants around, and do a little spring-cleaning. “I was thinking we should go fish the Eno” he says. “Where and when do I meet you?” I reply.
Okay. Full disclosure. I skipped a step. You know, the pitiful, groveling one.
Actually, that’s not entirely true either. I am blessed with a spouse who endures my indulgences and capriciousness with patience and grace. She knew that Mike and I hadn’t fished together in a while and agreed to defer our agreed to tasks to another time. I’m not completely sure how I deserve it, but I thank my lucky stars every day.
Saturday morning was a perfect spring morning with the hint of an early chill, quickly replaced with Carolina blue skies and delightful upper-70s temperatures. We stepped into the Eno River at Penny’s Bend, a lazy turn in the river just north of Durham, about 3 miles from Falls Lake. It’s white bass time and we hoped to find a few.
The Eno around Penny’s Bend is somewhat tough to access with its steep banks and wooded edges. We, however, had no problems as we chose to wade, dropped in near the park bridge and headed up the middle of the stream. The river was about 20 yards wide through this stretch, murky, and running a little high, as everything is around here right now. We regularly, and probably foolishly, waded at depths between our waist and the top of our waders, except for the one notable exception when I found a hole a few inches above my wader's top. It made for a damp and chilly afternoon, but that’s just the price one pays sometimes.
To add to the indignity, Mike fished my soaked socks off, catching just south of a dozen white bass, though somewhat small, all in the 7-10 inch range. I managed but a single white, and added a bluegill to the mix. Mike found the holes and had the right flies, gummy fish and a large white woolly-bugger-like streamer that his daughter had found lying on a dock in Florida the previous week. Go figure.
It was a hard day on my fly box as I lost several flies to underwater hang-ups and one to a ferocious strike that broke me off in a couple of seconds. I’m not sure what it was, but it was no white bass as, in my limited experience, their take is relatively gentle. This was mean and big, doubling my 4wt over immediately and snapping me off at the fly as it ran to the rocks at the edge of the river. It was my highlight for the day, but was also my biggest frustration.
Despite the poor catch total, the loss of flies, and the soaking, I had a fine time and that's what fishing is all about. A morning out on a stream with friends, even when they have the gall to outfish you, makes for a very good day. (Mike did buy lunch afterwards, so I'll cut him a little slack for the whipping, this time.) I went home wet, tired, and happy.
That night, the phone rings. It’s my fishing buddy Tim. “What are you doing tomorrow?” he asks…