Friday, May 29, 2009

Night Bassin'

I can hear, and feel, the fish take to the air less than twenty yards in front of me, but I can’t see him. It’s simply too dark. I want to reach up and flip on my headlamp but the largemouth just won’t stop jumping and I need a hand on both rod and spinning reel to try to keep him on the line. And it’s a legitimate concern too, as with each aerial and shake I can distinctly hear the jointed jitterbug rattle in his mouth, a warning signal that my hookset is tenuous.

Sure enough, on the third or fourth furious launch, my line goes slack, the rod recoils, the 'bug lands somewhere near my feet, and the bass is gone, sight unseen, despite all his flamboyant acrobatics. All goes silent and, when my heart stops hammering, I realize that the frogs have started their moonlight songs once again.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

No Fishing

Who knew I even had something called a distal fibula? It turns out that I actually have two and today I've learned a lot about them. The most important thing I've learned about distal fibulae is that they hurt like a sonofabitch when you fracture them.

The odds finally caught up with me. After 25 years of playing competitive soccer without significant injury, I fractured my left ankle at a tournament in Charleston, SC. As I lay on the lowcountry pitch, my first thought was "I’m done for the season". My second, "This really screws up fishing."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fox Den - Part 1

Red fox kit, or bigfoot... You decide.

It all started about a week ago while my neighbor Abby was in the shower. Through a face full of shampoo, she glanced out the window of her upstairs bathroom and noticed the shape of a dog moving along the woods line. A quick rinse later, she saw more clearly what appeared to be a female fox, a red, sulking along the wooded boarder with a guinea hen in her mouth. Abby jumped from the shower and moved, dripping wet, from window to window along the upstairs, following the fox as it moved down the ridge and into the woods towards our home. The puddles could wait.

In her excitement, Abby called to her husband Juan downstairs. “There’s a fox out there, with a guinea in his mouth.” Juan, a nature photographer who would jump at such news, did what all husbands do and misunderstood what she was saying. “There’s a hawk with a guinea out there” he wondered. I don’t think so. With a dutiful “That’s cool, dear”, he returned to what he was doing.

A couple of days later, Abby mentioned the sighting again and Juan uttered the following fateful words. “Fox? What fox? Why didn’t you tell me there was a fox?” During the course of our married lives, I'm sure we've all had the resulting conversation.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Fishing Buddy

Today I had the pleasure of fishing with a new buddy, Ken, with whom I connected via the Southeast Fly Fishing Forum (despite the fact that he lives but a few short miles from me). Ken is a veteran western trout fisherman who’s casting is graceful and wonderfully accurate, all the more impressive considering he was using an unfamiliar rod and throwing brick-like 1/0 bass flies instead of his usual diminutive #20 olive duns. I envy that proficiency and I suspect that 95% of the time, he’ll be schooling me, big time. But today we were on my turf, chasing largemouths in the Haw, so I was the guide. Scary.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Allergy Relief

I really didn’t plan to go fishing. Well, I did, but something out there in the natural world has recently added it’s pollen to the spring-time allergy inducing haze and it’s been kicking my butt.

I was pretty miserable last night before bed and then slept terribly, awaking at 2:30am and tossing and turning on the couch until dawn so as not to bother Mary. I figured staying inside as much as possible for a day or two while the offending pollination passed would be a smart thing. But dawn arrived, and I have never been accused of being particularly smart, so, since I was up early……

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Getting Back To Normal

It was the best fish of the day, easily 16 inches and full of fight. He had smashed the gully fish fly that I had cast from the rapids below his small pool and he was now turning cartwheels across the surface of the water. As I stepped upstream to get better leverage and to be in a position to bring the acrobat to hand, he decided that his best defense was a good offense and, quick as a wink, turned and shot straight at me. Before I could react (though I’m not sure what I would have done) he flew between my legs, took a hard right, and left the gully stuck in my pants leg as he continued, unfettered, downstream. In soccer terms, I’d been megged.