Fishing

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2014 07 31 Resurrecting secondary K. posts via this blog. First I launched a fishing scrapbook as a monthly, that it, I redated it the first of each month around the first of each month. Then I just poured materials into this “scrapbook”. Not all entries are dated, some similar experience and observations get “repeated”. The order is jumbled.

My teaching files are the most important, and my stories about non-convivial society, with its compulsory school, military … economy; but I’m looking forward to filling in some fun things too. For the moment I’ll just say that fishing has been great the past few years: I got a dozen bass in the kayak last evening.

pk's first largemouth bass

pk’s first largemouth bass
Everglades, January 30, 1989

2011 05 20 Yesterday afternoon I caught a 22″ bass! What a beauty: strong as the devil, towed me in circles in the lily pads.

Jan was taking a nap. I wanted to show this fish to her. She’s not a fan of eating fish, not even when I prepare my masterpieces for her. She’s sure wonderful in other ways though, and heaven to hug.

I fish her lake two main ways: wading, and from her kayak: seldom from her dock or from her canoe, just about never from her sailboat. I’m pretty good at controlling both my rod and the two bladed paddle. I carry my waist pack, I wear a bathing suit, tee shirt with pocket, wading shoes, and wear a bandana around my neck for clearing my glasses. (That was most important to me when I waded Lake Istokpoga with my fly rod, fishing from water up to my collar bone, and taking big blue gills off the popper right in front of my face: those guys can spash! In Jan’s kayak I carry no stringer: and yesterday I’d neglected to have my bandana at her house. So what do I do? I want to keep the fish alive. Even without a tape measure I knew this fish was close to two feet long: holding his tail about the rod but, the jaw came past the “Shakespeare” and before the “Ugly Stick.” The hook was stuck in his gullet, I wanted to get that out before releasing him: alive, and recoverable if possible. Letting him die would be no problem: just leave the hook, cut the leader, get back my worm, lay him down in the bow between my legs.

I severed my leader. I put him between my legs just long enough to work the 10# monofiliament leader in his mouth and out his gill. Then I made a mistake: I should have tied the leader improvised as string to the rod; but I tied it to the paddle. I thought I’d be able to paddle and hold him: uh uh, the leader, the length of my wingspan, wasn’t long enough. But the breeze blew me toward Jan’s beach. I kept my captive clear of the lily stems, kept him from bumping under the boat, felt him recovering strength, and growing resigned to he didn’t know what additional danger. Btw. I always called most of my big fish “she.” My first bass, shown above, had a pound of roe in her! Among largemouth bass it’s the females who become the lunkers. Males level off at around seven pounds. If your bass weights ten pounds, you’ve got a “she.” But I’m calling this one “he” just for variety. I suspect he was a youngster: he was the size of a six pound bass, was strong beyond belief, but didn’t have the girth (to come, I hope, if he recovers).

The wind blew us and I wished I had a witness other than Jan. Sure enough, two guys are preparing to launch a pontoon boat. I call to them and hold up my prize! Just as I approached the dock area of the neighbor, that dentist came roaring up, his son up on the skis. Again I held the fish up. The son called, “Dad, look at that bass!” Dad was impressed too, the skier son’s girl friend didn’t bother to turn her head.

At Jan’s I lay the paddle half on the beach and covered one blade with the kayak. I trotted to the back door, and called in for Jan to please come quick. She was at my heels as I trotted back to the beach. I saw the paddle making progress toward the deeper water, in the direction of the nearest lily pad colony: spatter dock. Jan sat on the bench as I held my fish for her, and then as I sat on the deck of her sailboat and extricated the hook from the poor bass’s half-everted gut. I gave him no choice but to cooperate, then put him back in the water, his gullet re-swallowed. He remained upright. I judged that I’d kept him vital enough that he could survive without the artificial respiration I usually administer: washing the fish back and forth in the water to pass oxygen into the gills. My bass swam off, gently accelerating: then whoosh, a mighty kick, and he was gone.

I love that fish, I dreamed about him.

2011 08 25 August is typically a slack month for shoreline bass fishing in south central Florida, but I’ve caught lunkers in unpromising conditions, and sometimes, when the storms blow away the heat, fishing can be very special. The evening before last I caught eight or so nice bass in little more than an hour, wading in water barely to my knees (but casting to deeper water). The best of them, maybe 18″, fought like a demon.

One of these days I’ll import my fishing files from K.: told lots of stories there.

I caught the 9 pound bass pictured above around 10 PM, January 30, 1989. The picture was taken the following day: after the lunker’s roe had been planted in a fertile bass bedding area, bass sperm swimming all over the place, and the fish gutted. Thus what I’m holding up is about eight pounds: ready to cook: with garlic and fruit.

Hail Fellow: Well Met

2015 07 22 Yesterday I drove the back road to get to Jan’s house: checking her grounds, her boats, her shorefront. All well once again, I returned the same way. And I heard “Paul!” Loud and clear. Oh yes, I was driving past Carlos’ house, hadn’t seen him in years: partly ’cause I hadn’t been taking the rural route. I stop the car in the middle of the road, shut off the engine, get out … and Carlos has his arms around me and is squeezing hard. His family, gathered in the drive ignores us, his wife, his kid, his father, his younger brothers, a very pregnant woman I’m not even going to guess about. And Carlos and I catch up a bit on old times. I tell him how I’ve just been wading off Jan’s yard: no beach, the water is very high: the shoreline all grass, no sand.

Boat fishermen are distant, even when the fishermen are familiar with each other. You may hail, you may even shake hands, but then it’s back to every man to his own business. Shore fishermen socialize. I’ve even met women fishing a shoreline: several women.

A decade or so ago I might take the boat out every day. But many a dawn, and at plenty of dusks, I’d bicycle the half mile to Lake Jackson and establish myself and my rod on the lakeside wall to Don Jose’s parking lot. Don was regularly there, and Brian, and Carlos. Carlos would fish with his very pregnant wife. She’d hook a big bass, hand the rod to Carlos. Sometime Carlos had his own fish on the line, she’d hand her rod to me!

Great to see him, great to catch up a bit.

Astonishing: Carlos told me his prize bass to date in Highlands County came out of Wolf Lake: 10 & 1/2 Lb! Wolf Lake! I’ve never caught anything bigger than a pound, pound and a half there. But maybe I don’t go back to Wolf Lake due to humiliation from my last visit. I’d failed to launch my sailboat, too damn big and heavy for me in the first place, getting old, into the stiff wind at the boat ramp. Fuming, I start to drive off. Crack! I still had the mast up, the sails rigged! A senior moment for sure.

Grass Bass

I’ve repeated here @ K. what I read two and a half decades ago: bass feel safe in cover. You don’t have to be nearly as stealthy in the weeds as in open water. I’ve had lunkers come right up to my chest in the weeds. I’ve also said ‘gators spook if you approach them, spook and flee, heading for deeper water, and, hopefully, away from you. I was utterly taken by surprise by my adventure gardening Jan’s lake front this afternoon. I was pulling lake grass from where it entwined amid spatterdock stems. I was clearing it for the sake of the view, to give me access to the open lily pads: a good place for bass, for any predator, to stage. I was trying not to harm the spatterdock, but if I got grass roots, and some spatterdock came with it, what the hell: purge the grass. This grass has cities-worth of roots and stems below the surface. However thick it is emerging above the lake surface it’s thicker below the surface. I was bent over with a real arm-load in water to my chest. I was teasing it toward me gently to uproot as much as I could. Then I’d let it drain, make it less heave, so I can heave it onto my floating compost pile where the sun will dry the roots: grass like Brillo will dry up and nearly blow away. I was just adjusting my grip when … holy malarcky, something huge bolted out of my arms. This fish was much bigger than the 9 LB striper I wrestled with in the surf on Cape Cod. This animal was a lunker whether it was a ‘gator, or a bass … a mud fish … I don’t think ‘gator for the reason already given. Mudfish I don’t know: I don’t hunt them, don’t work on their psychology. Bass makes sense. But if it was a bass she was Big: 15 LB? 25 LB? Man, I was practically dancing with it! In my arms!

2014 09 23 Back at the lake today, more gardening, it occurred to me: that fish I had my arms around could have been a carp. The county seeded lots of lakes with sterile carp. I’ve seen them, caught them here, for twenty five years now. But I hadn’t heard of any, hadn’t seen any, in Lake Charlotte.
I’ve had carp lunge for a popper on my fly rod: half-hooked them. The only one I’ve ever actually fished to land it, handle it, was on Istokpoga canal, on a four inch plastic worm on a very small hook. Must have been twenty pounds. They go thirty, easy.

On Istokpoga I’ve had big fish jump out of the hydrilla and look me in the eye: I don’t have a clue what the species was. 30 LBs, sunshine bass? Could have been.

July Doldrums

I’m a shoreline, weed line bass fisherman. I’ll catch bass in shallow water till mid-July. By then the warming water drives the predators to deeper water. Guys with sonar may find them, guys who know the underwater deep water structure may find them: brush piles, old road beds older than the lake … I don’t. I take the boat, cast to deeper water, but then lose patience. Yesterday I took a break from pushing the weedline north and fished where I’d been working: today, yesterday, and last month; but no strikes. I didn’t sense any bass, nor any blue gills. That time of year, plenty to do anyway.

2014 04 01 Jan’s brother was here for a couple of days. She hadn’t seen him in eight or so years, I was meeting him for the first time. (And we got along just great I’m happy and proud to say.) Bob and I took her canoe, caught a couple of bass: made fun of her behind her back! affectionate, respectful fun: targeting her very low tech habits. (I invented FLEX, he’s an IBMer …)

2013 09 08 Fishing, my kind of fishing, shoreline / weed line bass fishing, always drops off by mid-July. The fish seek deep water, dark shadow, thick thick weeds. But God is it wonderful to wade up to my neck in warm water: so sensuous. The other day a bass hit my lure right in front of me. I set the hook, 2/3 of his body rose clear of the surface; but then he snagged a thick seed clump, and the hook was in the weed, no longer in the fish. Then the wind picked up and rain drops started to splash huge rings on the warm surface, rings instantly the size of dinner plates, then spreading majestically. Soo beautiful.

2013 06 24 Weed-line bass fishing, my kind of bass fishing, frequently slows down as summer advances. The bass seek deeper, cooler water, I don’t blame them. Shore line offers clues where to cast; deep water is just a lottery to the poor fisherman, one without electronics, to the conservative fisherman, the lazy fisherman. This year summer came instead of spring time! I did catch a nice nineteen or so incher a week or two back: held it up and whistled from Jan’s kayak while guys on shore cheered.

2012 10 17 Yesterday I fished a bit while burning more debris near the waters edge. The lake is receding again, but is still very high, the debris thoroughly wet, not easy to ignite. I wasn’t very optimistic about meeting many nice bass, wrong time of year, wrong time of day, wrong equipment … First I fished from the kayak, then just waded a bit: didn’t bother to change the lure I’d tied on in the kayak: a lead jig. First I fished with pastic dodads on the hook, then with just the bare jig: blue rubber skirt. I was near shore and was fishing this jig, normally a bottom lure, like a jerk bait, ripping it along the surface. And suddenly, it bumped near some hydrilla, and I watched it move laterally, then rapidly. I set the hook. Lost the fish eventually but not before I’d gotten a good gander: nicest looking bass I’ve seen in a while. Welcome back fish! Welcome back to the shallows, the shoreline, the weed line: around 5 PM. Good.

2012 10 09 Last evening I shared my wading water with a snake.

banded water snake
thanx animal-world.com

I can’t say if it was a banded water snake (like the one pictured). I can’t say whether it was or wasn’t a water moccasin: dangerous! I can say that it was beautiful! I loved the undulations of its swimming. It held its body tall and thin, like a ribbon, like one long dorsal fin.

I saw it, I’m fairly sure it saw me. If so it was ignoring me, imperially. I saw nothing resembling fear in the snake. He was going about his business, in his water, on his lake. So: I began to feel fear myself.

The only thing I fear in a Florida lake is the water moccasin: its poison will rot your flesh, no antidote. I didn’t know that this snake was not a mocassin. What I do know is that it’s the first snake I’ve encountered in the lake, ever: of any species. I don’t see many alligators either. When I do see them, they stay away from me: they live by avoiding contact with humans, not by challenging us. I live simply ignoring them.

2015 07 21 Last week a crew of kids, guys and gals, aged twenty, maybe thirty, gathered weeds from Jan’s shore line: worked hard for several days, hauled it all away. These folk were seeing snakes and gators everywhere. Every croaking frog was identified as a ‘gator. Funny thing is at least one of the many snakes they reported actually was there: dead, at the base of a pine: a baby. I think it actually was a mocassin!

I didn’t wade much in the Everglades [1989]: there were moccasins everywhere. Well, not quite everywhere: it was the brown banded water snakes, non-venonous, that were everywhere. (I’ll never forget the ranger at the spring in Manatee Springs, way north, just off the Suwannee, who invited me to join him in some crawdads. He raked the crawdads out of the hydrilla with his fingers: fingers covered with bites from water snakes. Snakes sprouted from the hydrilla like from the head of Medusa.)

I was burning debris on Jane’s waterfront, lawn underfoot, the lake level way up over the beach and into the yard. She’s still up in Nova Scotia, unable to get home this month, alas. The debris of fallen branches, festoons of Spanish moss, dead palmetto fronds … had piled up all over, it’s been too wet to burn. And it was too wet last evening too, but I worked at it, got a big fire going. Of course I switch from gathering the piles, tending the fire, and fishing.

Once the fire was going OK I launched the kayak, fished just nearby, returned to shore and tended the fire some more, gathered more debris to it, and waded with my rod, leaving the kayak nuzzled up on the grass. Most of the year the lake level is much lower, but now it’s near its maximum.

Jan's beach, level very low
Jan’s beach, level very low

I hadn’t checked her yard for several days. I was surprised by how clear of new fallen debris it looked, but soon discovered the answer. The kayak was lashed to the canoe which was lashed to the sailboat: her son had been there.

2012 09 08 I just got a funny email-forward from my fishing friend Ron. I sample two items from it:

Beer is the reason I get up every afternoon.

fishing with beer
Why do perfectly decent looking women in other respects
pierce jewelry into their belly button?
Give me the pussy-pouch and leave the hardware elsewhere.

2012 08 08 It’s hot, the water is hot. As lakes heat up the bass seek deep water, it will be cooler: less hot at least. I’m a weed line fisherman, not a deep column fisherman. My lures, my skills, my habits are shoreline, not deep. So, year after year, I can catch bass, even on hot days, following my usual practices: till mid-July. Then, my favorite spots give up few to no fish.

The other day, trolling a wacky worm as I paddled the kayak toward one of my perennial favorite shore lines, something very strong picked up my lure. Wow, but it didn’t fight anything like a bass, anything like any fish I recognize. Not a ‘gator, a turtle probably. But it let go or lost the hook before ever coming up to show itself. Better than nothing.

Yesterday I did have one good bass: mostly though just annoying interference from the blooming hydrilla.

I did try jigging a bullet weighted texas worm: to no effect.
The other day though I did catch a catfish, mid-day, first catfish for me ever on Lake Charlotte: where I catch bass, bass, and only bass normally.

A weighted live worm will catch catfish day or night; but not a bass rig, not bass technique.

Saturday, at Jan’s, after the French Open tennis, noonish, I took her kayak and my bass rod. The wind was a little tricky. I worked my way north along the shore, then north west, then further north: into the north bay: fairly shallow and filled with spatterdock lilies. This time I didn’t catch a single bass till I arrived at the stand of cattails just east of the bay. I didn’t get a single strike even around (and under) the Blackman dock, the biggest structure on the lake! (I typically catch several there, no matter the conditions. A few days before I hooked a fish under that dock so huge, so strong, that it had wrapped itself around more than two dock posts before I had established any leverage on it! A thrill, even if the fight was short! Nothing like a fish than can boss right back!)

Well, I kept going north and west anyway. Mid-cattails, out of the kayak and wading, water up to my breast, I caught a good one. Satisfied, I reentered the kayak and proceeded to the bay, where I can cast to pad edges in any direction: it’s a small bay. Against the west shore I started producing. First, I was fishing a do-nothing worm, wacky-hooked. Mostly I was fishing it as a jerk bait, splashing it on the surface, making a bit of a commotion, then letting it go still, settle, sink a bit. Then I repositioned the hook to Texas rig, so the worm would be a bit more weedless. Third I retired the do-nothing worm and Texas rigged a rib worm. The rib worm was very light, casts were very short. But I’d let it sink a bit, then rip it a bit, then let is sink … and the bass were continuing crazy, suicidal, kamikaze. I had bass lunging for the worm as it hit the top ferule! I was hooking fish with zero line out!

I’ve had fish, bass and others, take my lure when I was almost reeled in, but this was a first: after, or just as, it was reeled in: completely!
Once, wading, in clear water, I was watching my plastic grub, I watched it all the way to my chest: and a bass streaked across the pond (within Lake Jackson’s western weeds) and chomped my grub almost against my poor gray chest hairs! Bass then spit it out, contemptuously. “There! Take that! Intruder!” Bass turned its back on the poor grub, to leave it dead, or crippled, knowing who was boss.

I couldn’t wait to try ripping the pads again: yesterday, during Rafa & Novak’s rain delay. But I got nearly nothing: same place, same technique, a bit more wind: quite a bit more wind: out of the south east.

July

I’ve had two good bass in just a couple of ventures this early July. Day before yesterday I waded a bit off Jan’s beach. Mainly I was bailing and pushing back adrift a loose paddle boat. What the hell, I took a couple of casts too. Wasn’t expecting much when I felt a pick up, timed the hook set, found I had a lunker. I cranked like crazy as she set her shoulder for the dock, to wrap, and get free, of course. I tightened the drag, still couldn’t keep her out of it; but did discourage her: she withdrew herself to fight in open water. Beautiful, strong fish.

Showed Jan, then released her. I flushed water though her gills once I had the hook out. She dipped sideways, but immediately righted herself, steady, and swam off, recovering strength, accelerating, plumbing.

Four pounds at least, four and a half.

A few days before I caught a bass trolling while paddling the kayak in open water: rare. Usually the open water is sterile for me: mostly I fish weed lines, structure …

Underwater Mind

2016 01 09 Just watching the doc Microcosmos: the camera flies among clouds, lowers, cruises over forest, then meadow. Then the camera penetrates the tall grasses, burrows. Yes, yes, exactly: wonderful.

It’s decades since I learned to improve my fishing by projecting my mind under the water. I cast a lure, say a popper on the fly rod. I try to picture the popper from underwater, see it like a fish, imagine how the fish responds, or fails to respond, or flees, or freezes: no hookup in any event. Think underwater, you’ll catch more fish: and never be bored! I said to my son last week in the cypress swamp, seeing an egret frozen like a statue, “I know how he feels, how totally engaged he is, his mind under the water: poised, ready. My son isn’t a hunter, but he followed what I meant.

Anyway, one day back in the 1960s I was fishing the dam on the road to ElkaPark. By accident I’d caught a grasshopper, put it on a hook, a trout struck it immediately. So I decided to hunt deliberately for more grasshoppers. I climbed the hill back to the house. A tiny lawn had been claimed from the side meadow. I got a jar, make air holes in the lid, and I penetrated the meadow with my body as well as my mind. I was used to that with regard to the water when fishing: I was not used to entering the grass world, the world of the insects. Wow, what a trip. Suddenly the fishing was secondary: totally immersed.
Bottom line, I got lots of grasshoppers, caught lots of trout: but only by casting very gently. Otherwise the grasshoppers got torn apart before I’d hooked the trout. I also learned that the hunt had to precede dusk: or bats would get my ‘hopper before it came near any fish!

I had to admire how efficiently the bats stole my bait without getting themselves hooked.

You Are There, Forever

2016 08 30 A nature doc, Stephen Fry narrating takes me back to my Tannerville tunnel in the grass, to my under-grass world. An African shrew is presented as racing over and under grass speed track: size for size twice as fast as a cheetah! See it, it’s very vivid. And I’ve been there.

PS Jan is once again in Nova Scotia, she’s been up north a month and a week, God I miss her. And she must miss me: she phoned three times yesterday! bles my darling. You know, it’s funny. She’s eighty-five now, as of July. I’ll be seventy-eight the day after tomorrow. But we still love like pups.

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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