Fishing Diary 2002

Silly fish

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  Canoe makers:

  **Uses forms of the old E.M. White canoe company.
Monday, November 18

The moon, one night short of full, was brilliant this evening. That's a rare occurrence this week, so I decided that I had better take this last opportunity for night fishing this year. However, when I checked the weather, a low of twenty-three degrees was predicted, and I decided that I was a sissy and that I should watch Monday Night Football instead.

At 11:45 an ad for the upcoming news program had a weatherman saying that there was a meteor shower going on. That clinched it, and I immediately started to get my tackle together. I left for the lake a while after the game and started fishing at about 1:15 AM.

I fished right off the middle of the beach. The sky was hazy in the west but clear elsewhere, with Orion over my left shoulder and Polaris at my right. The surface was still, with a thin layer (only a couple of feet high) of mist. A little later I noticed that the mist was rising much higher in the middle of the lake. I'd never seen that before and concluded that the air was so still that one could see the effects of the updraft over the water.

It was very quiet. There was no traffic to or from the nearby airport. I heard only the highway; my tinnitus, my footsteps, and the abrasions of my clothing; and one spoken word from a very quiet couple who were apparently finishing a tour around the lake.

I kept my eyes peeled but saw only one meteor --and that only peripherally. I did see a flash of light that came from behind me and looked up to see something like a short condensation trail forming. But it curved and then ended; then it dissipated slowly. It could have been simply a cloud, and the flash could have been an errant aircraft beacon or streetlight bulb burning out. Who knows? The purported meteor shower was a bust from my vantage.

There were a few rises, two or three well within the range of my bait, but I wasn't getting any hits. Just before three o'clock, I decided to call it a night. I closed my bait container and walked the few steps to my rods, one in a holder and one on the ground. I saw a tiny white dot on the surface moving away from shore and knew that it could be only the line from the upright rod, where it met the water, being tugged by a fish. Right after I set the hook, I could tell he wasn't much, but he was a little more than I expected, a lovely 12" rainbow. I guess he'd been on a while and was tuckered out. He swam fine, though, when I cut him loose, so he's okay.

I heard a bell ring thrice. I think it's extremely odd that I don't recall ever before hearing a tower bell ring at the lake. I suppose the air conditions must have been just right. I was very well dressed and comfortably warm. It was a really beautiful night and an altogether successful outing.

Monday, October 21

Well, it seems to me, I used to know how to catch fish.

It's the night of the full moon, and I went to the lake really early. The moon hadn't cleared the trees at the entrance end of the lake, so I went to the curve to the left of the boat ramp to catch the moonlight. Maybe I should have walked to the back, but I had a bucket rather than a backpack, and the temperature was predicted to drop from the current forties into the twenties. I didn't feel like carrying a bucket far if it got really cold. I started fishing at about eight --crawlers off the top as usual. Almost the entire pond was like a sheet of glass the whole time I was there tonight.

I hadn't seen much activity as I walked in, but here there were regular rises, almost all of them about fifteen or twenty feet from shore. A blazing moon and rises right in front of me ought to indicate an impending slaughter.

It seems that they did peck at my bait, but more often it seemed that they were hitting the line sitting on the water. I'm just guessing, because it's hard to see what's going on when the moon's over one's shoulder and one is using slack lines. After about an hour of plenty of rises and zero fish, I tried mealy worms on one line. A little while later the rod, leaning against the rodholder perpendicular to the shore, swung toward the water with authority. I had a few seconds of good heartbeats before I felt that I didn't have much. It turned out to be an eleven-inch rainbow.

A lot o' nuthin' followed, so I decided to move back to the left side of the beach. I thought that the rises so close to shore might be an indication that the fish were hanging around over the sand where the water would be a little warmer. Also, the moon had risen high, and, at the side of the beach, I could stand in shadow while my bait was in moonshine.

The surface of the water off the beach was very quiet; almost the only rises were around my bait. Again they seemed to be toying with it. The bait had to be plain as billboards. I don't know why they weren't taking it; I guess they were just too small or well fed to be hungry for what I offered. At eleven-thirty, I'd had enough and put the tackle bag and towel into the bucket. The vestiges of the bait, some anemic mealy worms and a couple of crawlers, I slinged into the water. I hadn't gotten my second line out before some blessed fish rose right over where I had tossed that bait. Insulting little cretin. As I reeled in my second line, lo and behold, a mighty ten-inch rainbow hit the crawler. Like the first, he was set free fast and he swam away strong.

Three and a half hours under a bright full moon and only a few ounces of trout. Oh, well. I can catch only the fish that are there and that are temptable. (Or is it contemptible. Heehee.) To console myself, I stopped on the way home for a pint of chocolate Häagen Dazs, which I'm eating right now. It ain't trout, but it ain't bad!

Friday, October 18

Having gotten a really good nap after dinner, I took off for the lake in the middle of the night. Three nights before the full Hunter's Moon, the sky was clear and the temperature thirty-six, with calm air.

No luck. I got to lake, which had mist rising ten or twenty feet, at 2:30 and started fishing shortly after at the boat ramp and then at the edge of the beach. I could see that the trout were there. There were occasional rises and dimples on the surface, but of course they weren't eating, just cruising. I did bring in one fish, which I hooked while bringing in my crawler on a water bobber, but, much to my surprise, it was a little bass. At least one other fish, probably more, moved my bait a bit, but they weren't aggressive.

The forecast had called for clouds, but there was only one patch that went by until a little before moonset. At the arrival of the second cloud bank, at about 4:30, I saddled up.

Probably the most notable happenstance of this outing was that I realized that, since I can still do it at my age, I might always be able to thread a hook at night without glasses. It takes holding the flashlight with my knees and holding the hook and doubled-up line right in front of the flashlight, and it may take more stabs at the hook's eye than it used to, but I'm still doing fine.

Saturday, September 21

The full moon is tonight. The conditions at the lake at eleven o'clock were reported to be seventy degrees, clear, with a SSW wind of 9 MPH. I arrived at about 1:00 AM, and it was so beautiful that I thought taking out my tackle might be a sin against nature.

I decided to fish an angle of shore next to the back corner where my bait would be in the moonlight. Usually I walk to the back of the lake by the path, but this time I walked along the shore. Almost the entire surface of the water was like a mirror, but I saw not one rise and not even a bug.

I could see that I wouldn't get anything but put in some crawlers off the top. I actually got one hit, but the bait was intact when I retrieved it a little while later. I saw a grand total of one rise, way off in the distance.

I heard the weirdest wail of a yip that I've probably ever heard from the woods; I guess it must have been a coyote. Meanwhile, much to my surprise, there was a swimming party, maybe two, between two and three o'clock. They didn't make much noise, but their wakes came clear across the length of the lake. I had been careful to wait until really late to go so that I would be alone. It is very rare to notice someone at that time of night, but it was a full moon on a Saturday night.

I bagged it at about 3:30 . Walking back there was nary a rise, until I was just about to walk up the hill, when I saw a bunch of tiny rises just ten feet offshore in the middle of the beach area. But by now it was four-thirty, so I did the smart thing and kept going to the car.

There was one little happenstance that gave me a smile on this trip. Somebody had made, on the end of the wall, by the boat ramp, a pile of bottle caps, poptops, bits of broken glass, and such. I wondered who'd done that. I'd like to live in a place with more people like that person. (I bagged the pile and took it home.)

It was a little hard to walk away from the pond tonight. It was perfect.

Tuesday, September 17

At 11:00 PM the weather at the lake was reported to be fifty-seven degrees and clear, with no wind, four nights short of the full moon. I went to the lake, and conditions were as stated by Wunderground. I decided, since the moon was beyond its apex, to fish the right, or north, side of the lake for a change, facing the moon, out of any shadow of trees. As I walked to the spot I had picked, I saw almost no bugs on the surface and no rises. I figured there was nothing doing tonight. I was right.

It was pretty though. The water surface was still, and there was a little mist rising. I started fishing about quarter past midnight. There was a brief visit to the east end of the lake by a small party --two young men, I'd guess-- but they were quiet and left soon. A brief, gentle breeze came up, but then it was even quieter, and most of the mist dissipated. There was a rise nearby, and I moved my bait accordingly. Then there was another rise --or possibly something chewing most of the crawler off the hook hanging from a bobber-- but that was it.

The water was so quiet that one of my lines just sat on the surface in the zigzag pattern where it had fallen. That only happens when the air is at its quietest. There was little highway or air traffic; most of the sound that I heard came from crickets. I left after two hours with a fairly good dose of peace.

Sunday, September 1

Today I took the canoe out for the first time this summer. I fished Walden from about half past one until seven. I brought all manner of bait and was hoping that the large shiners would fetch something. I caught only one fish, a very red, short-15" rainbow, on PowerBait in really deep water at the back end. (The photo didn't really work, and it was the next day, anyway.)

There wasn't much to note about the day, except that it felt really good to be in a canoe again. It had been too long. I left feeling quite pleasantly tired.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Tonight I finally put together just enough free time, rest, and enthusiasm to take myself fishing again. It was a perfectly gorgeous night. About sixty degrees, no wind, clear, three days after the full moon. I went to the lake and started fishing the back end about 2:00 AM. Surprisingly there was someone at the other side of the back end of the lake (the far right) who showed a light a few times. I don't usually notice anyone at the lake that late.

There was nothing doing with the fish however. The water at the edge was like bathwater; I'm guessing that it's just too warm for the fish to be active. The only rises I saw --about four or five-- were at the back end, probably bass, close to hand. But they weren't interested in my crawlers off the top. I tried a Kastmaster a bit and may have gotten a tap on that. I was just too tired to keep it up much, and my left knee is swollen, so I didn't care to stand a lot.

I bailed at about quarter to four. It was a restful outing, but I want to catch something the next time I go out.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Tonight was the night of the full moon. It was clear and gorgeous, as predicted. High tide was just a few minutes before midnight. I was certain that the striper fishing would be fabulous at the mouth of the Merrimack River at Salisbury Beach. I took great pains, in energy, time, and cash --not to mention a lot of lost work time, to spend the night on the beach. I arrived at about six o'clock and about an hour later caught a schoolie of about twenty inches. It wasn't until around 2 AM that I caught another two, so small that I didn't even know I had the second until I saw my end tackle reeled in. At three, I started to throw away bait. I left at four. It has been a long time --I can't remember when-- since I've been so disappointed in a fishing outing.

Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23, 2002

F.& D. invited me to spend the weekend at their place in Dennis. We went out in their boat both afternoons. Saturday F. hammered the schoolies, which were boiling up the water off Corporation Beach, with a popper, but I foolishly did most of my fishing with bait, both herring and clams, and came up empty. I unsuccessfully tried lures for a bit. Sunday neither of us got anything, except that I brought up a couple of crabs on my clams.

The weather was warm and hazy, and the whole experience was pleasantly tiring. It was very new to me to fish from a boat in the ocean. Next time I will be better prepared with lures.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

It being another moonshiny night, I decided to go out again, but this time with more intent. I left a couple of hours earlier and brought my backpack to walk to the back side of the lake. I wanted to avoid the bass of last night and to fish over deeper, colder water, where the trout-to-bass ratio must be higher. When I arrived, the sky was brighter and the air was calmer than last night. I fished a crawler off a bobber on one rig and mealy worms on my No.1 rig, the St.Croix-Penn combo with Berkley 6 lb. Ultrathin with which I can cast much farther. The fish don't see the pair of mealy worms as well as a big crawler, but I can whip out mealy worms much farther, of course, than a crawler, which will fly off with the violence of a strong cast. Some people showed up again at midnight, but I was too far off to be disturbed, and they were fairly quiet anyway.

I stayed a good while and, while some fish may have been nibbling, judging from the verisimilitude of rises near where I thought my bobbers were, I hooked only one. I lost it trying to snug up the line to set the hook. Fishing with bobbers in the dark is a little weird, because you never really know if anything is taking your bait, unless you've got a good view of the bobber or the line goes out.

The moon was behind my right shoulder; I was in the shade of the trees. It was hard to be sure that my bait was out of that shade and in the moonlight. And I wasn't getting anything, so I decided to move back a bit toward the entrance end of the lake.

I moved over until the moon was on my left shoulder. Now I knew that my bait would be in moonlight, and I could see my rods much better. After a bit, I hooked something on a crawler and knew it was a trout. It turned out to be a lovely 13" rainbow. It was while before I got another fish, but it was a beauty! A gorgeous, beefy 15-3/4" rainbow. Now here was what I came for. The moon was bright, the air almost still, the pond quiet, and the cosmos at peace.

Then her big sister showed up. I knew, as with the others, that it was a trout, but I had to adjust my drag for fear of having it break my line. What a fish!

It turned out to be slightly shorter than the previous one but clearly bigger. Hmm, hmm, hmm! All three look really pretty in the fridge. I broke down my tackle, and --you guessed it-- of course there was another rainbow on the second line. Fortunately, it was only about 12", so I didn't experience the agony of cutting loose a fourth fish (three being the limit) that was huge.

Three gorgeous, holdover rainbows in the fridge. Not a bad night, really.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

For the first time in what seems years, I finally got a tiny window of time to get in fishing late tonight. However, twixt meeting a customer after work, eating, napping, and reconfiguring my tackle from canoe fishing to night shore fishing, it was about ten after midnight when I finally got to the lake. The half moon shone in a mostly clear sky with calm, warm air at the shores. In other words, it was gorgeous. Unfortunately, my peace was almost immediately interrupted by a noisy party of about a half-dozen youngsters, but their whooping was of the innocent variety with the usual yells about the water temperature. Soon after there came a quieter couple, who I suppose came for some heavy breathing rather than swimming.

I fished crawlers off water bobbers and got a fish with every cast (six in all.) The first was the biggest, a sixteen-inch bass. To my mild disappointment, every fish was a bass. Oh well, they all fought like blazes, and I really didn't go early enough for a serious and lengthy trout-hunting session, since moonset came at 1:49.

At one point, at one o'clock, I found myself without hooks on any of the three rigs I carry and so decided to bag it. As I put my tackle away, the last couple left the lake, and I was alone. Had I known that they were leaving, I might have kept fishing a little longer, but the moon was already mighty low anyway. I just sat and admired stuff for a bit. There were a few flashes of light in the distant west, but I heard no thunder. I did hear a coyote off in the same direction. Although all too brief, it was altogether a very nice little outing.

Sunday, June 9

Friday the weatherpeople predicted a beautiful Sunday, so I planned on fishing. This morning it was rainy, and they were predicting more rain. When it cleared at midday, I said to heck with it and went to Walden with the canoe and some shiners. It was gorgeous all afternoon.

I got only one trout in the four hours I was there before the boat ramp closed. I caught a twelve-inch brown at a really deep depth. (Hmm... deep depth? That can't be right.) I was anchored with almost all the rope I had on hand going nearly straight down. I don't know how much rope that is, but I'm guessing about eighty feet. The trout was most of the way down; it was much more colorful than ordinary, freshly stocked ones, so I supposed it had been in the pond a year.

As I unpacked the canoe at the boat ramp, I left a pair of shiners off bobbers out about thirty feet. A boy of about nine started chatting me up while I was cleaning up the canoe. At that point, a fish took one of the shiners. After I made sure it was not a trout (it was a smallmouth), I handed the rod to the kid to reel in. I guess he got a kick out of it, because after I showed him how to hold a bass, his mother took a picture of him holding it up. Kinda made the trip worthwhile for me.

Monday, June 3

It being predicted that today would be the only sunny day this week, I decided to take the day off from work and go to Walden with the canoe. Unfortunately I finally got the canoe into the water only at about 2:30, and then it took me a while to fight the wind to get to the other end of the pond, where the water is deeper and, from shore anyway, I have gotten bigger fish in the past.

As has happened in my few experiences with the canoe in Walden, at that end I wasn't getting hits, so I came back to the entrance end of the pond. Fishing mostly shiners, along with some unsuccessful PowerBait, I caught an eleven-inch brown that I let go. I then caught another brown, barely twelve inches, and an eleven-inch brookie, both of which I kept for U. and J., a couple who enjoy fresh trout. I did get one hit that was likely something bigger, down deep on a weighted shiner, but I hit it it before it was hooked.

It seems a bit odd to me that I have not been as successful in catching rainbows with shiners from a canoe as I used to be when I fished Powerbait and mealy worms from shore. It wasn't a great outing today, but I did get some good exercise and came home fairly light-hearted and clear-headed. I must make an effort to make decisions on playing hooky earlier in the day, so that I go out earlier and longer and have more success and fun. Besides, it takes forever to put everything together for fishing with the canoe. There's a saying in war colleges: "Tactics are for amateurs; logistics are for professionals." Having spent probably thousands of hours fishing and hundreds from canoes, I am quite expert at all the logistics involved --except the start times.

Saturday, May 25

Today I took young A. for his first successful fishing outing, in a tiny pond in Stoughton. "He" caught a little pickerel and a medium-large sunfish. He was quite proud to report, repeatedly, to his mother, "I caught two fish, and he got none!"

I think I've gotten a lad hooked on fishing! Heehee.

Sunday, May 19

Today I loaded up the canoe and drove to Dennis, on the Cape, to meet old friend F. for some fishing. I met D., F.'s wife, for the first time, along with their friend B. We (F. & I) got some shiners at Sesuit Creek Outfitters and went to Scargo Lake. We anchored, and F. immediately started hammering the trout. The fishing was outrageous. We fished from two to five o'clock, and F. got seven fish to my one brook trout. He caught four brown trout, a tiger trout, and two bass. One of the bass completely startled us both. I was more or less freaking out after it jumped out of the water about fifteen to twenty feet from the canoe; it was so big I thought it was a tremendous brown trout. When F. finally hauled it in and we saw that it was a smallmouth, it turned out to be about eighteen to twenty inches and closer to four pounds than three. What a fish!

I thought it was hilarious and terrific that F. did most of the catching. He had never caught a trout before!

We took home all six trout and, with D. and B., had a huge dinner of trout and lobster. It was such a exciting outing I had to have a couple of drinks to calm down before eating.

All and all, this was about as good as Sunday gets.

Sunday, May 5

I arrived with canoe at the boat ramp at Walden just before seven; surprisingly I was the first one there. I had stopped at Arlington Bait for shiners, which I hadn't used since I last fished the Quabbin Reservoir a few years ago.

The weather was perfect; the pond was a mirror; the temperature was mild. I fished the back end of the pond for a couple of eternities without any action. When I checked the first little cove to the right of the back corner (I should learn the names of these areas) I spotted some really large fish, at least one or two in the eighteen-inch range, in about fifteen feet of water. They moved to deeper water as I approached. I anchored in a couple of spots nearby and caught a brookie, only about eleven inches long, on a shiner.

At one point I was anchored in the deep hole at the back corner. There was a guy fishing the corner, my favorite spot from shore. A family walked by and threw a stone or stones in the water. The fisherman told them that he was fishing there. The woman started yelling at him for fishing, telling him that he was putting holes in fish and letting them go. (Actually, he wasn't catching anything anyway.) I responded to her carping loudly, profanely, unequivocally, though without much eloquence. I barked, "Gotta kill something. You know, there's no room for people like you on my planet, but you don't see me going around shooting you. You're a fucking asshole." It was not a nice thing to have said with tourists around visiting the pond, but it was appropriate and accurate. Intolerance must be met with intolerance; the current climate of neototalitarianism that is euphemized as "political correct" should be confronted forthrightly. She had no response for me. A few seconds later, I said, in the general direction of the fisherman and with less volume, "Sorry about the language."

Afterwards when I told friends about this exchange, they expressed shock at my strong language with that woman --until I called their attention to the simple fact that all I did was talk, and what she was doing by throwing stones was an action, not just talk, that was preventing a man from pursuing his religion, fishing.

(Later in the day, I had a more pleasant exchange with a woman in a kayak accompanying a swimmer about the same subject. She expressed dismay that the fish I had showed her was going to die. I called her attention to the fact that we have more similarities to a carrot than we do dissimilarities to a fish and that we have to kill to live.)

At any rate, not catching anything but that one modest brook trout, I decided to go to the area where I knew there were fish, even if they were generally smaller than those in the pond at large.

I went across the length of the pond and anchored off the wall about two manly casts from shore. I put in a shiner with nothing more than a No. 4 hook. On my second line, I put a shiner off a bobber. Very shortly, the first line was being hauled off. After a wait, I set the hook and had a fight that was what fisherman dream of. In a canoe, with the sun pouring down from over one's back, one can see the fish quite clearly when it gets near. This was no bass but the fish I've been looking for all season: a gorgeous 15" rainbow.

Everything was well with the cosmos. I put it on my stringer.

I caught another, small rainbow and a few small brookies, all of which I let go. I was tempted to keep the brook trout though they were only eleven inches, because they were beefy. Meanwhile, there formed around the sun one of those huge and faint rainbows that occur sometimes when there's a little haze in the upper atmosphere. Everything was indeed well with the cosmos.

I quit about two o'clock. On the way home, I began to wonder if I'm getting soft. I used to fish for ten or twelve hours at a time from a canoe. However, that was in rural parts of New Hampshire, where I had only to drive country roads afterwards, when I was really tired. One has to be quite alert to drive the highways around Boston with relative safety. Also, I remind myself of the importance of bringing something to eat; I had had only a muffin with me in the canoe, along with a cardboard cup of coffee and the usual bottle of water.

Saturday, May 4

For the first time ever in my life, I wanted to wake up at a particular, unusual time and did. I thought moonrise was going to be about two o'clock and, it being a clear night, I wanted to wake up about then. I did! However, checking Wunderground, I found that moonrise was at 2:27, which fact meant that the moon would be high enough for fishing only at almost dawn. So I more or less bagged the idea of night fishing and decided to check out predawn at Walden.

I started fishing at the first quasi-point to the left of the boat ramp at 4:30. About a half an hour later (which was a half-hour before dawn proper) I brought in the prettiest fish so far this year, a colorful 14" rainbow, on a crawler off the top.

A little later, something was pulling my line with a crawler off the bottom, but I picked it up too soon. It felt monstrous, but it got away --for the moment! Then something was holding the other rod tip bent; it had mealy worms off the top. If something has your rod tip bent for a minute, it's hooked, right? Uhn-uhn. Nope. After hitting it gently to set the hook and reeling it in, there wasn't anything on the line.

After losing two, I wasn't about to let the next one off easy. Something was taking line from a crawler off the bottom again. I opened the bale and gave it lots and lots of line. It stopped. Then it took some more, and I let it have more. And more. I didn't want to give it too much line, because then the line becomes all wrapped up in weeds, and one loses fish and tackle. After a prudent interval, I hit it and started tugging. It was quite the monster if a trout. I adjusted the drag so as not to let it snap the line. I thought there might be weeds involved in such weight, but after gettting it close, it was rather obvious that it was a beast. Mind you, this took a crawler just sitting off the bottom, and bass usually hit moving things.

Of course, when I brought it in, the blankety-blank blanking blank of a blank was a smallmouth bass, at least sixteen inches long, the biggest I've caught in Walden in years. I've got to admit, though, that, for a minute there, everything was right with the universe.

I quit about eight o'clock; I was too tired to enjoy myself anymore. As I walked back across the area of the stone wall, I stopped to look at a camera sitting on a tripod. It was a striking device, comprising an accordian attached to a ten or eleven-inch cube of solid mahogany and brass. I chatted with the photographer. The thing was custom-made by some fellow in Marion, Massachusetts. I spoke again with the photographer when I returned to the pond in the afternoon, when he told me that he was a professor of photography at a small Canadian university and, upon my query, that I could find his website at He also said he was collaberating on a book about Walden.

Having demolished the day, I decided I may as well get yet more fishing in, and went back to fish Walden from five to seven. I didn't get a thing. However, on the way to Concord, and again on the way back, I ran into nonsense.

Driving down Concord Ave. on the way to Walden, I had to slam on the brakes to avoid a Corgi who had scampered into the street. The sound of the screeching tires gave him to change his mind and direction. He went to the sidewalk. At that moment, the woman he was with decided to go bananas. She started shrieking his name unintelligibly, making exactly the same sound that you would expect to come from a witch being burned at the stake. I'm not kidding or exagerating. The unfortunate dog, having a good deal more common sense than the woman, began running down the sidewalk away from her, trailing his leash. The overweight, hysterical dog owner kept trying unsuccessfully to stomp on the leash of this dog bred not to have any legs to speak of. It was too much for my tender faculties, and I drove on.

On the way back, I saw a woman sitting in the parking lane of Broadway in Cambridge. She had fallen and was too stoned on prescribed drugs and alcohol to organize her thoughts, so I went to call her a cab, while a really together, large woman with a shopping cart stayed with her.

Before the cab arrived, a cruiser and an ambulance arrived. Between the smart large woman, a couple of cops, an ambulance driver or two, and me, there was not enough communication talent to make it clear to this poor wet-brained woman that she needed to go home in the cab (which I would spring for) or she would go to the hospital. She was insistent that she needed to make a call, preferably at a local bar, to complete arrangements to meet someone for a dinner date.

I had to bale out; there was nothing for it. The Ambassador cab driver, who spoke with an accent from somewhere east of the Mediterranean, refused, despite my repeated insistence, to take money. Despite the sadness of the woman's condition, I felt good in seeing everybody involved --except her-- take pains to do their best for her.

Friday, April 26

Once again, it was an ideal night, crystal clear with a three-mile-an-hour wind. The full moon is tomorrow night, but clouds are predicted. I decided that, since this might be the last such night of this moon cycle, I'd really go for the big fish. I dressed very warmly and walked to the deep end of the lake. I started fishing about one.

There was nothing doing, much to my surprise. Except for one little nibble on a crawler I had just moved, there was nothing. So I decided to go to where I knew there were fish, albeit less likely to be holdovers. As I brought in the second crawler, a large fish got it. I was pretty excited because, in the bright moonlight and the Mini Mag on my head, it looked too silvery to be a bass. Alas, it turned out, indeed, to be a fifteen-inch smallmouth.

I went to the spot where I had nailed lots of fish earlier this week and set one crawler on top. For the second rod, I used a Kastmaster for a few minutes with no success. When I got back to the first rod, it had a nicely shaped twelve-inch rainbow for me. I kept it because I told my customers that I'd bring them trout in the morning. I set up both lines for crawlers on top. Usually I leave them hanging about four feet below the bobber; that's about as much length as I can get and still cast fairly well. I want the maximum length for the maximum disassociation of bobber and bait. As I cut fish loose, I don't adjust the bobbers, because that can start them slipping. Thus the line gets shorter and shorter each time I cut loose a fish and put on a new hook. I notice fishing at night that the distance between bobber and bait seems to matter less.

I also noticed that the fish weren't hitting quite as fast tonight, and I'm sure that it's because the crawlers I had weren't half the size of those I usually have. Visibility is the name of the game. With that in mind, I decided to try mealy worms on one line.

At this point, at 3:25 AM, I saw something and could hardly believe my eyes. A hundred yards away, somebody had set up a propane lantern and, as though that wasn't enough, was in the water in waders with a headlamp on. After a couple of minutes I sashayed over there and, after apologizing for bothering him, said that the light could get us into trouble, inasmuch as we weren't technically supposed to be there. He said that he fished there every weekend (not blessed likely!) and had never seen any dawn-to-dusk rules (which are posted, if I recall), that he needed the light because his eyes were bad (I don't recall seeing glasses), and that he'll continue to fish there until somebody throws him out.

I guess the phrase "ostentatious indiscretion" would frighten this guy. I hope that when he gets the boot that he's begging for he doesn't get everybody else booted as well. Obviously, a guy fishing at 3:30 AM is not fishing because he likes to; he's fishing because he has to. Why then must he assert his right to have himself denied what he needs? I'm afraid that I may be as stupid as he is, because I continue to be amazed by humans' stupidity.

When I got back to my lines, the one with the mealy worms had a rainbow of slightly less than twelve inches. I set it out again with mealy worms and shortly got a somewhat bigger trout. I thought I'd bring all three to my customers, but when I got home I found that the thirteen-inch trout was a brookie. I've only eaten one, tiny brook trout before, so it looks like I'll be eating my first trout this year.

As I put my tackle away, my other line started going out, but I brought it in right away, before the fish was hooked. I already had the limit of three trout, and I was afraid that if I caught another one it would turn out to be the one I've been looking for: a two or three-pounder. I didn't want the pain of letting go such a beast.

It was about four o'clock. Oh geez, I've got to reel in this fishing a bit and try to make a living.

Wednesday, April 24

Today I went to the sporting goods store to replace my broken rod. I couldn't find one single cheap two-piece rod that wasn't made in China. I bought a one-piece Silstar made in Korea. I wonder how many minutes it will last in my trunk. There ought to be a law against the way I treat tackle.

Tonight back at the lake, I got my lines in at exactly midnight. Conditions were even prettier than last night. The moon was higher and brighter, and the sky was clearer. There was even less wind; almost the whole lake was smooth. There was less highway traffic sound. There was no air traffic at all. A coyote was yelping in the distance. Geese across the lake were raising a racket.

The action was slower. It was a half-hour before I pulled in the first fish. (I don't know how long it had been there.) It was fourteen inches alright but too skinny to qualify as a keeper. The next fish was a more shapely twelve inches. I got it free of the hook and crawler, which I put back in the water. I get a kick out of catching a second fish on the same worm.

I decided to try a one-eighth-ounce Kastmaster. The second cast brought a beefy eleven-plus-inch brookie. I almost wanted to keep it and almost had to, it took me so long to get it free. I'm not accustomed to using lures. In the future, I'll remember to put the pliers in their sheath on my belt before casting a lure. A few more casts brought more hits but no fish. I lost the lure to the weeds, and a half-ounce replacement got no hits.

The last fish of the night, a fourteen-inch smallmouth, I got while reeling in the worm on which I had caught the twelve-inch trout. I decided to bale about quarter past two. I'm starting to feel the wear of all this fishing, and I have to be careful to save energy for work.

I had a funny moment. I reached into my pocket and felt something really slimy. It was like one of those times when, while working, one feels something wet and sticky and says, "Uh-oh. How badly am I bleeding and where?" I had put a banana in my jacket pocket and forgotten it under my fishing vest. It was now banana sauce --not something you want to feel your hand delve into in the middle of the night, at least not by surprise.

It was a really beautiful night, despite being a bit unseasonably nippy. I hated to leave. As happened last night, there was a hawk or owl skimming the water as I left. I wonder if its nest is near the lake access area.

I still haven't eaten a trout yet this year.

Tuesday, April 23

At quarter to midnight I checked the weather for the lake. The wind was west at 3mph, and, though it was overcast, it was predicted to be partly cloudy. I checked the weather a little west of the lake, and it was clear. When I sat down in my reading chair, by a window, to think about it, I saw the moon bright, and that decided me.

As I got my tackle ready, I discovered that I had broken one of my rods in the car trunk. That didn't bother me. It's one of my two Mitchell rods, made in Korea, that Roach's Sporting Goods sells for eighteen dollars. But the loss meant that I'd be going with only two rods. (I always bring three, so that I can have the third ready to go when I pull out a fish or when I want to try something different.) I decided to set up both rods for water bobbers and crawlers.

As I got to the water's edge a little after two, a skunk waddled off to give me a wide berth. I wasn't insulted; the feeling was mutual. The sky was about as clear as need be to offer a bright moon. A coyote yelped a couple of times in the distance. An owl fairly close at hand was hooting to beat the band. The water was a mirror nearby, and the rest of the lake was giving off mist.

Almost immediately there was a trout on my line. It became a case of seven casts and seven rainbows --with no waiting. The first and second were twelve-inchers. The third was thirteen. The fourth was a keeper, i.e., it met my personal minimum of fourteen inches. (It turned out, when measured just now, to be a skinny fifteen and a quarter.) The next was a ten-inch fish, which had trouble when I released it. I release them by cutting the line as close as possible. I found that that is the way that gets them on the way liveliest.

The next two were twelve inches. The eighth cast I started hauling in a little after the line moved and lost the fish. The trouble with fishing with water bobbers at night is that they're too far off to see, and the only way to discover one has a fish is to see the line going out. Sometimes, as in the case of the seventh fish, a line with a fish at the other end doesn't move. That one I decided to check on after it had been sitting a while, and only then did I find the fish that had probably been there a while. At any rate, my failure with the eighth fish jinxed me and after about twenty minutes I decided to call it a night, because it was cold and raw, just below freezing.

This was probably the best outing yet this year. I brought home a fish, only the second of this year of the size I like to eat myself. Unfortunately, tomorrow night is predicted to be clear... uh-oh. Heehee.

Oops! Upon cleaning it, I noticed it was a brown trout, not a rainbow trout, that I brought home. I guess some or all of the ones I caught must also have been browns. I gotta start paying more attention!

Monday, April 22

I went to Walden for a couple of hours after work to try fishing in the light rain. There was a light east wind, so the beach-to-boat-launch end of the pond was smooth. There were a few rises, but I got no hits.

When I arrived there was a car parked at water's edge on the boat launch. Three young men were fishing, I'm guessing without licenses. As I fished my way over that way, they left, leaving behind a Dunkin Donut coffee cup, a lid, and a plastic bottle. It bothered me to see that.

When I left, I picked up some of the unusual amount of stuff on the beach but was appalled on the way out at the amount of litter beside the steps up the hill. (On the way in, down these same steps, my eyes are on the pond.) I've never seen the pond so littered, and the season hasn't even started yet. I am reminded why I got a canoe: to get away from the trash and the litter they leave.

Not a good fishing outing.

Saturday, April 20

Today I took P., along with his roommate, T., to Walden with the canoe.T. and P.P. wanted to see how I fished it. We met at 5:00 AM and, after loading canoe, coffee, and ice, went to the pond and stayed until a little after noon.

Only two of us at a time used the canoe; it's only a twelve-footer. The fishing was more or less a bust. P. got a few small brook trout; T. didn't get anything but didn't seem to mind. I got a tiny (eight-inch?) rainbow, a couple of little brookies, and a gorgeous twelve-plus-inch brook trout,moiwhich I gave to L., because her grandfather used to bring her brook trout. I really liked that fish, it was so pretty.

The highlight of the day for me came near the end, when I saw a couple of boys with tackle walk by with a man who wasn't carrying any. They were fishing on their own, but they didn't have any bait, just lures. Of course, they weren't getting anything.

I told them exactly where and how to fish and gave them my remaining mealy worms and a new package of Eagle Claw No. 6 hooks. They immediately started to wreak great havoc among the brook trout. It was a case of my really making their day. Most satisfying!

Wednesday, April 17

Today there was a record-breaking high temperature of ninety-three degrees. I tried to do things a little too quickly this morning and soon felt pretty crumby; I never got up a good head of steam today. This evening I decided to go to the lake to try to cool down. I never catch anything when the moon isn't really bright, but I figured the tremendous heat must have produced plenty of bugs, and I might have a shot at something. The weather report predicted a drop from the lower nineties to the mid-sixties "within minutes." The sky was clear but for little high, wispy clouds. There was a crescent moon. (The full moon is the twenty-seventh.)

When I left for the lake, it was a reported sixty degrees there, but it felt warmer when I got there, and the predicted wind was nowhere to be seen --calm as you please. I was right about the bugs. There were rises everywhere, especially right at the edges of the water. My first cast of a crawler off a water bobber brought an eleven-inch trout. The second on the same rig brought a twelve-and-a-half-inch trout. My second rod still had just a bare hook; it was still set up for the canoe-fishing. I tried tossing a crawler with that for a while, then stuck an ordinary styrofoam bobber on it.

I forget which rod I got the next twelve-incher on. Once bringing in the rig with the styrofoam bobber, I felt what made me think, "Dinner!" But it fought just a little too much, and, despite hoping I had a three-pound trout, I began to suspect otherwise. Sure enough, when I pulled it ashore, it was a fourteen-inch smallmouth.

I decided I ought to go for the big boys and grabbed the one good rig I own, a St. Croix rod and Penn reel. I found that my wonderful reel wasn't working. When I stopped crying, I tried a few casts of a Kastmaster but decided I didn't want to make the reel worse, so I switched back to the plain-bobber rig.

Then I left the two lines (crawler on water bobber and crawler on plain bobber) and went on litter patrol. The place was unusually messy because the weather had brought out the slobs. What I want to know is: What kind of mother gives her kids ziploc sandwich bags to fill with sand? And then tops that with leaving them on the beach? There was only one empty bait container, so maybe there wasn't a lot of fishing there today. As usual I wish the guy who left that container an easy and painless death. Very soon. I took all the trash and clothing away when I left except the pair of plastic sand buckets with shovels.

When I got back to the rods, there was a feisty twelve-incher on the plain bobber rig. I decided to end the evening then, because the moon was getting obscured by clouds. Before I could put away my tackle, there was a twelve-and-a-half-incher on the water bobber rig.

I was there about two hours and got five trout and a bass. I didn't take any. I heard briefly a birdsong that seemed familiar from recordings somewhere. I also heard some nearby croaking frogs that I couldn't identify. It was a very beautiful night, though I was a little too tired fully to appreciate it.

Friday, April 12

Today I used my first canoe for the first time. What a bust! It tracks terribly, if at all. Apparently, they don't call it a "Stillwater"canoefor nothing. (The wind was 10.4 to 19.6 mph with gusts to 25.3 mph.) And the caning on the solo seat didn't last the morning. It's so wide that, while trying to control it, the two small fingers of my right hand kept brushing against the gunwale. I wasn't completely disappointed in it, however, because it is quite light and portable. And it surely beats not having a canoe at all.

I didn't bring my anchor. When I found how wind-sensitive the canoe is, I used a rock for an anchor for a couple of hours. Even with an anchor, the boat sails around with any shift in wind.

I'd feel better about the canoe had the fishing been good. Nobody on the pond was getting anything.

I went to Walden and started fishing a little after nine. I caught my only fish, a twelve-inch rainbow, about six hours later. My personal minimum is fourteen inches, but I might have taken it anyway for my current painting customer, who likes trout, had it not been hooked in the lip. Since it was hooked in that way, I was able to set it free without much damage to the fish. I quit about a half an hour later because I was exhausted from lack of sleep last night.

Wednesday, April 10

This entry isn't a fishing report, so maybe it doesn't belong here; however, what I just did will have impact on my fishing. Heehee. I just got my first canoe: a red, used Old Town Stillwater 12, twelve feet long, with a forty-one-inch beam. What a fishing platform!

Sunday, April 7

Today I went to Walden late in the afternoon, more to get air than to catch fish, and, figuring that the time was perfect not to hook anything, I wasn't disappointed. I fished by the boat launch from five to seven and didn't get a hit, except that something took a shiner that a fellow had given me.

Of course, at about 7:15, just the time to leave because the gates to the parking lot closed at 7:30, the wind died and there were rises all over the pond.

A little while before it was time to leave, a little girl walked up and stood behind me. Annoyed, I gently warned her that it wasn't a good idea to stand so close to someone fishing. She more or less ignored me and said, "I'm a star." I asked, "What kind of star?" She answered, "A BIG star." That was it! I didn't care in the least anymore about catching fish. I showed her how to turn the handle on the reel so that it dragged in the bait, gave her a souvenir bobber, and chatted up a storm. What a happy, healthy, beautiful little girl and what a delightful way to end a fishing outing!

Thursday, March 28

I was excited all day. Finally a clear sky and on the very night of the full moon. A west wind of five to ten miles per hour predicted --and it turned out to be less. I stayed home from work, because the last couple of days were a bit brutal and because I wanted to be rested for tonight.

I started fishing the back side of the lake at nine. The surface was a mirror across the entire lake. However, there were no rises. I could hardly believe it. It was cool --thirty degrees, but it had been fifty earlier. I fished my heart out and came up empty. I guess the water is too cold yet and there aren't enough bugs to bring the fish up. In approximately the same air temperature in November I would catch a fish every twenty minutes. Nothing tonight. I'm so disappointed. I was fishing only three or four minutes when something small hit my line a couple of times (the line, not the bait) as it sat on top of the surface. Then something hit the crawler behind my bobber as I dragged it in. That was the only action I got until I came back to the front of pond and got a couple of little hits on a 3/8-ounce Kastmaster.

There were three groups visiting the lake at different times: a couple in their thirties, a trio of teenage girls, and a couple probably in their twenties.

I got to try out my new Shakespeare Flueger vest, which B. had gotten at Sam's and given to me for my birthday. It's great, but I didn't use it much of course. I also tried out an insulated hood that I picked up at H.D. Chasen a couple of days ago. It really made a difference against the cold. Also, because I didn't wear my usual fishing hat, I used the flashlight-holding headband for the first time, and that worked great too.

I called it quits at midnight. No trout! No nuthin.' I'm beginning to wonder if I've forgotten what I once thought I knew about fishing. What a bust!

I was so certain that tonight there would be great fishing, and so it was quite a letdown. I'm tempted to return in the morning and wreak revenge, but I'm afraid of the seduction of the lake. I do have to make a living, and fishing has certainly interfered in the past...

Sunday, March 24

Today it was clear with a strong west wind that gradually lessened throughout the afternoon. I went to the back corner of Walden and fished from half past noon until five-thirty. Caught four and kept two, only one of which had any size --fourteen and a half inches. By quitting time (five-thirty, leaving enough time to get to the parking lot, which closed at six), the water was still, the trout were rising, and I could have caught tons.

Sunday, March 17

Yikes. I haven't caught a fish yet this year. I spent from noon to five-thirty at Walden, two hours at the back corner and the rest by the boat launch. It was clear and the calm; the water was like a mirror most of the time.

I threw everything at the them. Something took a little nibble at mealy worms off the top and again at PowerBait off the bottom, but obviously I'll have to show up in the morning to catch anything.

Friday, March 1

Skunked! Fished from noon-thirty till four-thirty at Walden. Threw everything at 'em. Nothing! (I saw about three guys who were fishing earlier and had one or two rainbows apiece.)

Thursday, February 28

The lake was stocked Monday, and it's clear out one night after the full moon, so I went tonight. Nothing doing. It's twenty-five degrees, but it felt like fifteen --maybe because my hair was still damp from a tub a bit earlier. Live and learn. I used crawlers off the top; I didn't bother with lures because my hands were too cold. I tried by the boat landing and off the beach. I stayed about an hour and left a bit after eleven.

Sunday, February 24

Last Sunday I was informed that the ice was mostly gone the lake, so I got my license this past week and checked it out a couple of days later. The ice had returned, leaving only small areas open. Today however the ice was entirely gone. I went tonight because the moon is nearly full (full moon Wednesday), the sky is as clear as you please, and there is no perceptible wind. There are also no perceptible fish. I fished crawlers off the top. I knew pretty quickly that there was no action, because there were no rises whatever, but I had to stay for a couple of hours until about 10:30, because it was so peaceful.

I heard a rapid squeaking birdsong that I haven't heard before.

A couple of notes: First, the dates given for night fishing are of the day before. Thus if I start fishing at 1:00 AM Saturday, the day will be listed as Friday. It's just easier that way. Secondly, the phrase "the lake" refers to places that I won't reveal. No serious fisherman talks about his favorite spots. If asked about it, I will either lie through my teeth or plead insanity.
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