Simpson: Testing a new fishing rod, carefully

July 25, 2012 

— “Funny thing, the faster one goes, the less one sees.” Gene’s outboard responded at first yank and we shoved off towards our favorite fishing grounds. Nicely under way, the engine hesitated, popped a round or two before quitting cold. Gene then announced the electric motor was fully charged and we could continue while he repaired the outboard. A red-faced sun peeked over the horizon watching us continue our quest.

No other boats were in sight as we moved along. Gene regretfully said the float was stuck and we were lacking the tools for repairs. “Maybe we should go back and get the other motor?”

“It’s not far, ‘lectric motor is working fine, weather’s good, let’s give it a go!”

Working closer to shore, brilliant tangles of bind weed with heart shaped blooms, akin to morning glories, in purple and white, intermingling with yellow-gold. Above, red-winged black birds clustered atop a dead bush, warily watching our passage. From this same cluster of shrubbery half a dozen bittern rose from the clusters of dense growth at the edge of the marsh. Rounding a bend resulted in an anhinga flushing from the brown waters, splashing off, fleeing upon our arrival.

The purported excuse for undertaking this particular fishing expedition in mid-July was to test our newly crafted split bamboo fishing rod. My feeling was that it’s too pretty to be exposed to potential rod busting powers of big fish. Nor did it help to see a 6- to 8-foot gator nearby eyeing our lures. Putting any possible reservations aside, we bravely tied on a small bright yellow popping bug and made our first offering. The fish quickly responded, leaping clear of the water in their eagerness to be first on the line. Mostly small stuff, the usual crappie, brim, bluegill and an occasional largemouth. We released most, for this was a test run

A pair of osprey idled in big circles overhead, watching our activities; various turtles, and blue crabs idled by. A flight of crows were riding an updraft. The humidity was high; the sky was blue with rings of pure white clouds building along the horizon. All was bliss as we silently idled about, dropping our lures in likely holes, convenient stumps and logs. Repeated hits, taught lines and bending rods, this was fishing as good as it gets.

By now the wind was beginning to freshen, the burning sun of Dog Days was beginning to bear down and we figured, without an outboard, the electric motor had a job ahead. I moved the speed control up a notch, nothing happened. Checked battery connections and control switch, no response. Lifting the motor revealed it wasn’t turning the blade, a shear pin had severed. Gene had a spare, but without a drift pin to remove the old, any repairs appeared impossible. It was time to grab an oar; at least we had one. Could have called a towing service to come from New Bern or Morehead, but a couple of hours searching and towing sounded expensive so we began stroking the waters with a big wooden oar. Just as we made the first turn towards open waters, less than a couple of feet distant, a pair of unblinking eyes emerged from the brown weed-filled shoreline. A baby alligator, at best a foot long, watched the funny creatures paddle by. Mama was no place to be seen.

It seemed as if hours passed before we arrived at the launching-site, and except for my tripping and rolling several feet down the crushed rock ramp, it was a great day of fishing.

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