I remedied that over the last couple of days. Here’s Part One of what happened:
Finally! We have lovely, true-Spring weather with temperatures around 7C (45F). It was warmer in town, just a couple of miles north of where I fish, but my proximity to Lake Ontario subtracted a few degrees.
High water precluded fishing from my usual spot, so I set up shop at my second-favourite, the confluence of two creeks. Geese appeared to be pairing up. I spotted several couples on my walk in and a pair were nibbling at grass on the opposite bank from where I decided to fish, about 100 feet (30 metres) away.
Conditions weren’t conducive to actually catching a fish. The water was still too high and dingy and most of the trout had undoubtedly moved beyond this part of the creek, further north into spawning water. Those spawning grounds, parts of which include the area where Ben and I walk daily, were off-limits to anglers for 10 more days.
Which was fine. Because I didn’t come for the fish. I came for the fishing.
As expected, the underwater action was slow. After an hour, I quit drifting roe under a float, rigged up a worm on a slip-sinker rig, cast it out and set my rod down on a forked stick. I then commenced some serious idling.
Soon, I was ambling along the shoreline, peering amongst the flotsam for anything of interest. Spooking a frog was accompanied by a sudden realization:
For 50 years, ever since I was a kid, I’d do this when the fish weren’t biting. I’d wander the shoreline looking for frogs, crayfish, minnows and/or treasure. Treasure usually took the form of lost or forgotten fishing gear - a lure or a float, sometimes a knife or some coins.
I wasn’t to be disappointed this day either. As if spotting the frog wasn't enough, I found two floats tucked in amongst some reeds. One was of the balsa variety I use often, the other was a plastic model, more suited to a young angler. I kept the former and “hid” the latter on a branch of a nearby tree, at approximately the eye level of an eight-year-old.
Lunch was a fisherman’s feast and I nibbled at it over the course of the afternoon - a bag of pumpkin seeds, a couple of thick slices of kielbasa, a chunk of old cheddar and two mini-carrots so, if questioned, I could respond with a righteous “Of course I ate some vegetables!”
I choked down the carrots first so I could savour the good stuff. Dessert was a chocolate-covered granola bar and all of the above was washed down with hot, honeyed cups of tea from my thermos.
As I sipped and chewed, I watched and listened.
Geese nibbled grass and each other. The cries of soaring gulls swelled and faded as they dipped close, then away. The buzzy trill of redwing blackbirds was as near-constant as the distant hum of the highway. To the north, perhaps a mile away, four turkey vultures circled slowly. I pitied da’ food.
Every hour or so, the peace was shattered by a mournful whistle heralding the rumbling approach of a train at the nearby crossing. For a thunderous few seconds, as it blasted its whistle yet again, all other sounds disappeared. Then, after the train’s departure, like cautious children peeking around a corner after a parental quarrel, the birds re-took up their songs.
The pair of geese I considered a couple were in the shallows on the opposite side of the creek when two other geese paddled their way upstream. The newcomers passed on my side of the creek, about 20 feet in front of me.
Well, I guess they got too darn close for Mr. Couple’s liking and he tore after both, skittering across the top of the water, half flying and half running, all the while honking and hissing his outrage. He veered towards the goose in the lead and chased it upstream, to the north. I heard the commotion but my view was blocked by some trees.
The trailing newcomer suddenly flew towards Mrs. Couple, who had been left defenseless on the opposite shore. Trumpeting her alarm, she dashed off to the south, the newcomer in hot pursuit, only inches behind. As they flew past me, I could almost feel the concussion of their wing beats. Within seconds, they too were out of my sight.
A moment later, Mr. Couple’s triumphant return from chasing off one challenger was ruined by the realization there’d be no hero-welcoming nuzzle from Mrs. Couple.
She was gone.
I felt badly for Mr. Couple as he swam back and forth in front of me, bugling softly. He stopped calling within a few minutes though, and seemed to resume his normal behaviour - preening and feeding.
Men are such pigs.
To be continued....