Wednesday turned out to be a stunningly beautiful day and I wound up getting an angler out on a guided trip to fish the Fox. He’s an experienced angler, but new to rivers, wading and river fishing.
While giving a quick demonstration on how to swim a lure along a current seam, a smallie cooperated by hitting and getting landed. I guess it made it look like I knew what I was doing. I thought for sure that meant we were in for a good day of fishing. Turned out to be the only fish.
There’s nothing worse for a fishing guide than to have a client do everything right and not have a single fish cooperate. About 2/3 of the way through the trip, he made a cast toward shore and didn’t see a root jump up and grab his lure. As he walked over to get his lure, he didn’t see the rock jump in front of him to trip him. He landed pretty much face first in about a foot of water.
After checking him out to make sure an emergency room visit wasn’t required, he started going through his now waterlogged waders, emptying out pools of water. In one pool of water was his cell phone, now dead. We decided to call it a day and hiked back to the car. Waders off, on one side he was soaked down to his toes.
It was too early in the day to call it quits for me. With the river still a little high, I decided to go try my luck on the creek where on my last visit, I was attacked by a goose. I had been coming across a few empty goose nests on shorelines up and down the river and I hope these creek geese would be gone.
I knew the point along the shore where the nest was and I’m sure the male goose would be in the water as an early warning system. If I saw them first, I would simply turn around and leave.
My goose friends from the first time we met. At eye level they're much more impressive.
I knew when I got there nothing was going to happen, there would be no fish worth fishing for. Whenever the wind died down, I could smell that sweet musty smell of spawning suckers and carp. That’s never a good sign. I wish I could bottle that smell. I have a feeling many don’t know what I’m talking about. Besides, I like it.
The creek fishing was as good as the river fishing, nonexistent. I stayed in the water along the shore. There is about two feet of creek bed you can walk on in knee deep water before the bottom makes a relatively quick slide to a depth of about five feet.
There was no goose cruising the creek as a guard, this was a good sign. I got to the point where the goose nest was, nothing there either. Perfect, even if the fishing still sucked. As I walked and cast I suddenly heard a hissing noise to my left. Shit, it was the nesting goose. I was at the wrong point. The bank here is high and I was at about eye level with it. Since the other goose wasn’t around, I thought I would just walk past the goose. No big deal.
It kept hissing at me. I started shushing it like a parent shushes a fussing child. That wasn’t going very well. She suddenly stood up and let out a honk. Almost immediately, off to my right and coming from across the creek, even louder honks.
Through the trees came the other goose and landed in the creek about 10 feet in front of me. It was honking insanely and hissing between the honks. I could hear the other goose honking and hissing a few feet from my left ear, but I was reluctant to turn and look and take my eye off the crazy one in the water.
Last time here, the mom goose never left the nest. She stayed right with it. I called her honking and hissing bluff and I ignored anything that was going on to my left. The one on my right was getting more intense.
The dad goose suddenly lifted out of the water, wings spread and honking and hissing and came at me feet first. I barely had time to react. When it was about three feet away, I lifted my rod and smashed the goose across the chest. This drove him backwards and he fell back on the water. The goose on my left was going nuts, but I still wouldn’t turn my head. I was hoping I was right in calling her bluff and her not leaving the nest.
Now I was trying to move as quickly as possible in knee deep water on a two foot wide stretch of slippery creek rock. It wasn’t going well. The goose in the creek jumped out of the water again. I got my rod around faster this time and poked him in the middle of his chest as hard as I could, knocking him back into the water again.
By now I could tell I was right about the mom goose not leaving the nest and I could concentrate on getting the hell out of there. The dad goose appeared to have learned a bit of a lesson. Every time he tried to get close, I pointed my rod tip right in his face and he would back off a bit.
I kept trying to make it down the shore as quickly as possible, but the rocks were pretty slippery. I kept an eye on the goose, my rod tip in it’s face and I would grab onto the shore grass to keep from sliding into the deeper water as I moved along. Only the shore grass was also filled with stinging nettles. I couldn’t watch the goose and where I was putting my hand, so I just put up with grasping onto handfuls of stinging nettles.
The goose was wearing down, but kept biting the tip of my rod. As I got further away, his interest in me started to wane. He would turn and head back, turn back toward me, then back again, eventually convinced that I was leaving.
At this point the shore wasn’t as high. I had to get the hell out of the water. I put my hand on shore to hoist myself up when a huge fucking turkey blew up out of the tall grass not four feet from my face. This sent me backwards almost on my ass and also got the attention of the goose, which turned and started heading back my way.
I distinctly recall what I said out loud at this point…awwwsonovafuckingbitch.
The turkey took off across the creek and disappeared over the far end of a near pond. The goose gave up and headed back up stream. My left hand was throbbing from all the nettles that were now stuck in it and I was done. If there were any fish in this creek, they were definitely gone now.
I crossed the creek, sat down on a stump over looking the pond and started sucking the nettles out of my hand. I looked over the pond while I did this. It was was unusually free of weeds. The recent heavy rains must have washed them away. I could salvage this pathetic day of river and creek fishing with a few pond fish.
Half way down the length of the pond, 100 casts or so and not a single hit. Usually by then I have a handful of big mouth bass, a few crappie, a bunch of bluegills, nothing. I called it quits. The adrenalin from my goose encounter was also starting to wear off. I noticed I had a sharp pain between my shoulder blades. I knew if I didn’t get home and get some Ibuprofen in me, that pain would migrate up the back of my neck and give me a massive headache.
While wandering through the woods to get to the road, I kept an eye out for any other animal that may have it in for me this day. It’s happened before. Coons, possum and even a flock of red wing black birds that attacked my head when I walked under the tree where they were nesting.
It was daylight, he had his spot, he wasn't going to get out of the way for me. So much for being nocturnal animals.
I came through the woods unscathed.
Back on the road, I headed for my car. Few other cars drive through here. A couple of hundred feet in front of me, a couple of deer come out of the woods, see me and stop in the middle of the road. They’re staring at me. They’re deer, they’re skittish, I keep walking, they’ll leave. Suddenly, the theme to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly starts playing in my head.
The deer aren’t moving. I start thinking of all those Crazed Deer Attacks Man videos I’ve seen. I don’t think my fishing rod stands a chance against them. I stop in the middle of the road and stare back at them, chewing on the end of my cigar. It’s a standoff, one of us has to blink sooner or later.
They blink, turn and lift their tales as they bound off into the woods again, flashing their big white asses in my face as a goodbye.
Good riddance, I say.