After sitting and staring at a computer screen for over 7 hours trying to eke out what barely passes for a living, I’d had enough. The vibration of the LCD screen and efforts to decipher the chicken scratch on page after page of client edits had my eyes bugging out of my head. I needed to focus beyond a couple of feet to get my eyes back to normal.
The violent storms that had rolled through first thing in the morning brought more wind than rain. The Fox River had come up slightly and just as quickly started back down. It was still below normal, perfect for going anywhere on the river.
Light winds and some cloud cover were tempering the heat. I was hoping that the little bit of fresh water in the river may turn on the fish. Rain washes in bugs, bugs get eaten by bait fish, predators go after the bait. Or so the theory goes.
I didn’t particularly care about the theory, just needed to get out. By 7 P.M. I had driven the 4 miles to a spot and was in the water.
I fish this stretch all the time, but there is one 300 to 400 yard part of it that I hadn’t done in years. You can only do it when the water levels are normal or lower which we haven’t had much of for years. This stretch narrows down and is about half the width of the river both up and down stream. Normally this is no big deal, but also along here the river bed is made up of limestone slabs. Slippery, broken up slabs that has you sliding down the river in the current. This wasn’t a problem today.
Bridge pilings are always a good go to spot. Man made fish magnets.
Combine that with the limestone ledges and this was always a good 10 fish stretch. Today, not a tap. Under the bridge and down stream was shaping up to become a pleasant walk in the river. Which is fine by me.
The setting sun was lighting up the south shore. The light winds had blown away the heat haze and the colors were stark.
The tangled shores is what keeps anglers away from here. I’ve noticed the amount of wading anglers has dropped off considerably over the last 6 or so years. Just not that many out doing it anymore. Which again, is fine by me.
As the river widens the river bed undulates from ankle to crotch deep. Anything above the shins needs to be fished. One shin deep pool elicited a hard hit. The fish flopped over a few times and made a powerful bottom hugging drive up river. Great, a catfish, was what came to mind. The lack of water clarity kept me from seeing the fish and had me disappointed at the prospect of landing another channel cat.
With the fish up next to me, my disappointment disappeared.
A smallie measuring just about 19 inches had been hanging out in the shallow water. It’s back had the scars of past battles won against a heron or cormorant. That’s what it gets for hanging out shallow.
The next half hour was back to strolling the river. The sky was getting set up for a sunset light show so I wasn’t disappointed.
As the sky started it’s fireworks, the little guys came out to play. The last half hour got me 8 more smallies. No real size to any of them, but they fought like they didn’t know they were small. They were sitting in water from crotch deep to as little as ankle deep. One gave itself away when it was busting minnows behind a gravel bar. The jumping minnows looked about the same size as the smallie I landed.
The sun and clouds kept putting on a show with each passing minute. Reflected off the water, everything was taking on the look of stained glass.
I would cast and not pay any attention to where the lure was. I was standing admiring the setting sun. A tap at the end of the line would pull me out of my daydream. Reel in the fish and go back to watching the ever changing light show.
It was time to get going and as always, there’s a last cast. A fish actually cooperated.
I wanted to be back at my car changing into street clothes for the last of the light. I have no idea why I do this. I like to see the shift from day to night and the changes that happen as that occurs. I also find it extremely relaxing.
When I got home I was reading through a trout centric fishing magazine. I don’t read bass centric magazines primarily because they’re boring as hell. I cringe a bit that I have to read trout mags for the type of writing I like, but in my mind I simply switch the words around.
I came across a comment in a Letter to the Editor:
When you trout fish you can see the handy work of God and the beauty of nature.
Whether or not there is a God is a debate that will continue for as long as humans occupy this earth. I can argue both sides and nobody will ever know exactly where I stand.
As for the need to be trout fishing in order to have a better understanding of nature and its beauty, whether God given or not, I beg to differ.