In Pursuit of Happiness
During the past week I was told I wasn’t getting a monetary raise this year. So this past weekend I decided to go off alone and go fishing and forget about the depressing news. On the way to camp, Friday night, I hit a deer. I guess when a deer wants to commit suicide they decide to jump in front of a vehicle being they can’t put a gun to their head. I suppose jumping off a cliff they might change their mind and find out it’s too late. Besides no one will ever know or care. I’m sure just falling prey to coyotes would be too much suffering.
I wondered how long it hid in the bushes before I drove down the road on that full moon lit night. Yeah, that’s right; she wasn’t just standing waiting for me in the middle of the road where I could have jammed on the brakes, possibly able to avoid her. She didn’t casually walk in front of me seeing if I was paying attention. No, she jumped out of the bushes, missing my right front fender, and met with my hood, grill, bumper and destroyed my front right headlight assembly.
To save you from the harsh details she did die quickly on the other side of the road, a few yards beyond where I stopped. There was no need to track her or wonder how long she may have suffered. Meeting my van, at about 35mph, and than the road done her in pretty quick.
So after the accident I picked up a few headlight parts and, hearing and seeing my van was mechanically able to run ok, I went on my way to find somewhere to pull over for the night.
Around 6:15am I awoke in silence. The sky was overcast and a bit on the chilly side. I changed out of my sweats and went out to look at the damages in daylight. After securing what was left of my headlight with duct tape, I decided to at least end the outdoor outing in a positive note. I deflated the air mattress, grabbed a bottle of cold coffee and opened up a pack of doughnuts. After the cold breakfast I headed to the river.
I arrived at the entry of a dirt lane in Portland Mills about 30 minutes later. As I started down the slight grade there was a crater of a hole I couldn’t avoid preventing me to reach the river where I wanted to fish. By now I was tired of thinking and decided to fish somewhere I had before without too much problems. I headed to the Heath Pump Station.
I was surprised that no one else was parking in the parking area when I arrived. It had to be nearing 8:00am by now and usually there are a few vehicles left by canoeists, kayakers or fishermen. In the parking lot I grabbed enough fly boxes to fish for trout and smallmouth. Deciding to wet wade the river, I put on wading boots and grabbed my 5wt Scott rod.
After about an hour of no fish I decided to concentrate more on smallmouth, and with the chilly air, went back to the van to get my 6wt Vapor rod and put on a t-shirt under my long sleeve Columbia button down. Back in the river I slowly fished my way across the river. On the other side I lit a H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon Pequenos. I knew it was a bit early and regardless that I hadn’t caught a darn thing yet; I decided to light one up for the enjoyment anyhow.
By now the sun was starting to peek out between the small white puffy clouds in the blue sky. The water was flowing cool and clear. There were a few birds around chirping and every once in a while a cool breeze filtered by that brought with it a pinch of forest pines mixed with a touch of chimney wood aroma. It almost felt like fall. For the next hour or so I tried to encourage a strike. I worked woolly buggers, Zonkers and Triple Threats in deep pockets and within the riffles. I cast out poppers along the shore and between partially submerged boulders that stood just out from the banks. I even tried Humpy’s, hoppers and Wulff dries without success. After finding myself down river a ways I decided to head back up. It didn’t look as though I was going to catch anything and go away fishless. Though relaxing it felt like a frustrating mindful morning.
Back up at the riffles I decided to give it another hour. Maybe the fish moved up in the riffles looking for food. From above the river riffles I slowly waded across and cast out into the waves. I worked a streamer through the current and into a few slow moving pockets. When I got to the other side I took a few steps downstream from the beginning of the riffles and cast out into the choppy water. Letting the Triple Threat sink I watched it swing being pulled by the fly line within the current. As the fly line slowed behind a partially submerged boulder I looked for any noticeable quick change in the fly line tip that might be caused by a striking fish. The fly line continued on and about the time I figured the Triple Threat entered the slower water I again kept good watch on the fly line tip. The line pulled with a jerk and I jerked back with a sidearm tug holding the fly line tight between my fingers. I felt the fish on and it felt good!
He pulled away at first and than caught the undercurrent, of the riffling water, and swam with it downriver. I let line slip through my fingers until my reel started to click. With tension on my line, I let the fish fight a bit. It felt like a decent size smallie so I didn’t want to coax it too much through the faster moving under current. When I got it reeled in to the boulder it came top side and I seen it wasn’t too bad for a river bass. A little more coaxing and I got it near my legs. It wouldn’t let me lip him so I grabbed him by the side and lifted him so I could undo the hook. Happiness returned for the moment and I didn’t even realize it until I released the fish and stood straight up in accomplishment.
I caught one more smallmouth, a small one, in the next half hour and decided to call it quits and deal with my vehicle problem. Back at the van I put on driving clothes and took out a Fuente Curly Head to smoke on the way home. When I lit it up I noticed I wasn’t getting much of a tobacco draw and looked down to see a thin line crack in the outer leaf. Evidently, upon bending over in the river, I must have bent the cigar enough, in my vest pocket, to cause the open crease. I couldn’t let this upset me too so I reached into the side back compartment of the van and pulled out the duct tape. I sliced a nice thin strip off the tape and delicately stuck it to the cracked outer leaf of the Fuente.
On the way home I felt a little happiness in the nicely caught smallmouth and a little comical relief in the duct taped cigar.