According to Jonathan, I'm the only person he knows that can stretch their birthday from a day to a whole week. Funny, because I don't even try to do it.
When he showed up last Wednesday with my gift, I thanked him; I had a weekend coming that was going to be busy.
Friday night was homecoming at HHS. Saturday was another new tattoo. For those of you keeping track, thats #4 for the year. Three-and-a-half hours after I stopped at the shop, I got myself a gorgeous piece with some betta fish.
I went home, ate something and gathered stuff together. We were headed north in the middle of the night.
I know I just went big time fishing... but a mere three weeks later I found myself headed north again. Straight up 81 to Pulaskil, Exit 36, to Route 13. It was 3:30am and the bait shop was hopping. I wandered into Fat Nancy’s and grabbed a new pack of hooks and some black sponge. This fishing was a completely different ballgame compared to the sunny and 75 of September.
The air was crisp and the frost was heavy on the ground. The full moon lit it up like it was a fresh coating of snow as we drove up State Route 13 to Country Route 48. It was later in the season, and the fishing was better in the small streams that fed the river. A drive down Sheepskin Road, and a few turns and intersections later and we parked in a farmer’s field.
Since the moon and the frost were still lighting the way, the walk through the field and down the hill to Orwell Creek was easy. Standing for two hours in 34 degree weather wasn’t.
To get the best fishing spot, you have to get there early. The salmon tend to stick in the deeper holes and they’re few and far between in the small creeks and tributaries that feed the river. These little holes are popular and tend to fill up quickly with fishermen.
For the first hour on the creek, no one else arrived. We could see head lamps and phone lights in the distance, people finding their way to other holes along the bank. At the beginning of the second hour of freezing and watching the moon set below the horizon, a group of eight came across the field and joined us. I had found myself the choice point in the water and wasn’t giving it up. I even went as far as telling the guy next to me, “It’s my birthday… I’m catching fish.” He laughed and backed off a bit. And at first light, they told me I had the honor of first cast. (To be fair, it was indeed my birthday that day and those guys seemed impressed by the fact that I chose to stand there instead of anything else.)
So, I dropped that 12-pound test line into the hole I had coveted since first arriving. We knew the fish were there from two hours of listening to the splashing. With two small round weights about 3 feet from the hook, and a casting technique that was half fly fishing, half plop-and-drop, I kept at the small area of water. Within 10 minutes, I had a fish on. Utilizing a few techniques I perfected with the more lively fish on the big lake, I had the fish in the net in just a few minutes. (I could actually picture Captain Andy in my brain saying “Tip Up. Now down, and reel, reel, reel.”)
Casting with that many people around is a bit like dancing. You have to watch lines, listen for yells, and try not to step on any toes. And by stepping on toes, I mean tangling lines by casting out of turn, or over top of each other. The creek was at most 15-feet across, and with people on both sides of it, the line dance was a big deal. Some of the guys there spent more time apologizing for hooking someone else’s line than they did fishing. Others spent time snagging the rocky bottom and retying their rigs. I spent my time casting and catching.
By 7:30 that morning, I had caught my limit and stepped out of the hole. I ran net for a few guys fishing the banks and made sure none of their catches got away.
The fun of hearing someone yell “fish on,” and watching as everyone else pulled their lines out of the way or grabbed nets to help is what makes salmon fishing so great. Whether in the lake, on the big river, or in one of the small tributaries along the way, spending time with like-minded people on a boat deck, or chest deep in water is what makes the whole experience so fantastic.