Monday, April 15, 2013

No Fish Story

I've beached my kayak, climbed a high bank, then up a large river side hill. I intentionally slip down the side of a near 60 degree hill like some overloaded surfer,  catching a root with my free hand, taking a stick in the ribs. In my other, two long fishing rods rigged for bass fishing dart in and out of tree limbs.

 The thaw is in effect and the top inch and a half of the humus are a slick mud. Traction is in and out, as my foot catches pea gravel mixed in the mud or the odd root. Mostly I slip, loving it. I plan to launch my body to the next hillside tree using the mud to take me there. Attention both on the ground and the large slack eddy  in the water below. The eyes of this hunter search for that perfect spot to deftly creep an offering between the sycamores, ashes, elms, and cottonwoods that lie buried underwater 20' below.

My path is blocked by those damnable green vines, replete with thorns that grab and rip skin. Cut them, or they cut you, tromp them or they'll tromp you down. Not a good idea up here. A long drop to 6-7' of ice cold water. Looks like it will be an army crawl to get under this thicket. I am stuck halfway. The heartless bastards embed in my backpack. Only solution now is to pull Fat Ass through. I get further tangled. Some new wounds later, I'm ready to fish.

The early Spring winds blow hard from the West. It will be hard to fish from this exposed bank. I'll have to get closer. Like flying a kite otherwise. The longer rod will help me get the monofilament line below the surface and out of the stiff breeze. Control with such a light jig is vital. Careful, now. Careful. A shadow cast across clear water can end a hot day's bite before it begins. Cast no shadow and kick no pebble. Down there be monsters, below the broken limbs, discarded 1950's truck frame, fallen trunks, the ebbing and flowing currents all must be accounted for.

Have to be...perfect. Look at the patterns in the water. Observe. 'There.' A darker spot in the water coinciding next to just the right current speed for this time of year. Crosses several lay downs. It'll be a hard land or slide down to meet the pig when it happens.  Knee is going stiff from weight on it. I shift the body 180 to put weight on the other side. An under hand swipe, the lure starts several inches above the water comes to an apex a couple feet above then drops out of sight slightly upstream, thankfully on target. I bow and let the lure sink down, down, and wait. If I'm right, it will be a soft 'thuck' or slight rubber band like tick that gives her away. A smile, always a smile at that.

The enemy is fear. Fear you'll hang your jig on something, lose it, fear this isn't the right spot at all, fear the next spot would be better. Shut the voices out. Don't trust them. Give it a chance. I again stick my jig in a  thicket. Defiant to the difficulty. The more ridiculous things I try, the better the eventual pay off.

A fevered dream brought me here, far out into the Indiana landscape of broken field after blasted field  interrupted by flowing water. One hundred miles from the place I call home. I was the fish. I thought like a fish. I reacted fish-like. Now I'm here rooting around on this muddy hill like Ahab looking for the White Whale. I think about what others are doing and pity them.

And... Nothing.

It's warmed up too much since last week. The cold blooded bass have moved into fast water for feeding just 30' away. I find the bigger fish downstream on a rip rap point heated by the sun. I missed the pigs here by a week or so.

I won't make the same mistake next year. The mud under my feet just told me where and when to fish.


  1. Great piece of writing ,at times almost like a stream of consciousness in style; entertaining and educating at the same time, no small feat. Thanks, JQ

  2. Thanks, John, sometimes I get tired of covering my fishing events and just write for fun.

    This one came from the notion that river angler on foot and float generally don't use the height offered on the deep side of the river to spy their targets first. Rather they pitch in and hope not to snag. From above, you can see evidence of the lair better. Avoiding the hangups and presenting more efficiently. Plus it's exciting. I like to fish high banks a lot in the Spring and Winter before the foilage rolls in.

  3. BT, Nice article. Just waiting out the floods here south of Chicago. Looks like you also got some rain. Spring is a little later this year, but not out of the ordinary.


  4. Yep, different is good I think!