Simpson: Fishing despite a stormy forecast

May 30, 2012 

— I ’ve forgotten how to fly fish, not catching flies, but attempting to deceive various finny species by substituting combinations of fur and feather as their versions of steak.

With the weather forecast of doom, gloom, thunderstorms scattered about, gusty winds picking up later in the day, any logical reasoning would suggest waiting another day, but Gene is stubborn, and I hadn’t gotten in but an occasional trip, all spring. Already it was the ending of May, when fly fishing comes to the fore, and I’d yet to try my favorite rods.

Afternoons are usually more favorable for thunderstorms, with the lightest winds during the early morning hours, suggesting the earlier one is on the water, the better the fishing odds, also fish favor feeding between the hours of dusk and dawn.

It was a little after 4 a.m. when, while stuffing my fishing gear into the car in preparation for departure, a brilliant white light illuminated a bank of black and white clouds to the northwest, immediately followed by a long rolling of heavenly drums. I was having some misgivings regarding the relative conductivity of a carbon rod in an aluminum John boat on the waters, but bravely reasoned: “What shall be shall be.”

A building ring of clouds was frowning at us as we slid the skiff into the dark waters of Cahookie Creek. A hint of light out of the east was peeking through broken clouds.

It didn’t take long to notice we weren’t making very good time, lifting the engine revealed gobs of seaweed entanglements slowing our travel considerably. There are many local forms of water plants, Widgeon weed and Sago pond weed are most common. It’s annoying when mats of the stuff entangle lures and wrap around propellers, causing engines to overheat and stall. Most anglers despise the stuff, yet it’s extremely valuable in the big picture, providing choice food for many forms of life, such as the Canvas backs, and many other ducks that depend upon it for survival. Seaweed masses also provide shelter for those immature fish we desire, feeding and concealing them amid great entangling mats, floating about as dictated by winds and tides.

There were no other boats to be seen. Still the weather didn’t look much worse, dark banks of clouds swirling to the north and west, another bank building to the east, but we figured we could get in some top fishing if we could plow a path to our favorite site.

Didn’t matter. The fish, if there were any around, showed no interest whatsoever in our offerings of popping bugs or any other kind of temptations. Only entangling weeds seemed to have a taste for our hooks.

Gene operates a prolific private worm farm, angle-worms mixed with a few grubs and nightcrawlers living in luxury deep within horse and mule manure piles. Vicious little things, glad they do not have teeth ‘cause they get real upset whenever they find themselves being impaled on hooks, but they do produce fish: Bass, pumpkinseed, crappie, bluegill, perch, most everything that swims. Best yet, worms when used on ultra-lights, (4-6# test line) seldom fail to catch fish.

Despite, or maybe because of, the increasing darkness of the heavens, thundering flashings across the heavens, the dimpling of rumpled waters, fish were virtually leaping into the boat.

All good things must come to an end, my lunch still at the landing, dangerous storm warnings up, dark clouds laced with white rapidly growing and we had a bucket full of fresh caught supper. Fly rod fishing can wait for the weather to once again settle down.


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