Lure of the Lake
Lure of the Lake
The sun was still an hour away from setting as I got out of my pickup. The lake, one of my favorites, was dead still, its surface mirror smooth. I walked around to the rear of my truck and opened the canopy door to remove my fishing pole. I was tired from a hard day at my desk but the thought of a little bit of time relaxing at one of my favorite hobbies filled me with renewed energy. There was no one else in the area. Even the birds and bullfrogs were, for the most part, respectful of the silence, as if they too were awed at the beauty of the low’ring sun. It cast a golden glow over the barren trees, bulrush’s and cattails along the water’s edge.
I walked down to the water and stood a minute soaking up the wonderful view and then stepped up on a rock at the edge of the shore and surveyed the most likely spots for my first cast.
I sent the Carolina rigged soft plastic lure sailing out over the water and thrilled once again at the smooth action of my new rod and bait caster reel. I bought them last year but had only been able to try them out once or twice. I watched the lure sink to the weedy bottom and carefully reeled up the slack in my line as a bullfrog began his evening calls. His deep bass echoed across the lake and I twitched my rod tip hoping to entice one of the catfish I knew inhabited the lake to strike. I stood on that rock for the better part of an hour casting against the weedy shoreline first on one side, then the other.
I decided that I would probably have to pull on my waders and move out a little further in order to take advantage of feeding fish. I returned to the truck, looking back over my shoulder at the lake. It’s not a large lake, or a particularly picturesque one compared to one like Lake Shasta, Lake Tahoe or even ones closer to my home like Lake Samish, or Lake Whatcom. Somehow, though, on a brilliant winter evening, this lake, only about twice the size of a large pond, almost defies description.
I reached the truck and opened the tailgate to sit down and remove my shoes. I raised up long enough to take a peek at Mt. Baker, the unquestionable queen of the Northern Cascade range. The setting sun was coloring the snow capped peak, jutting up from the eastern horizon, the most stunning rhododendron pink. It was changing moment by moment as I watched, completely distracted from the task at hand—pulling on my waders.
I hurried to pull the wader straps over my shoulders and pick up my rod because the county closed the gate to the lake at dusk. I didn’t want to be left inside. I had attached a small ¼ ounce crappie jig to the end of my line and slid a bobber in place. I approached the water slowly and began wading gently out to my favorite spot, softly sliding my booted feet across the bottom, not so much from uncertainty—I have fished this lake for a number of years and know the gravelly bottom on this part of the lake quite well—but from not wanting to startle any fish away.
After a few moments of quiet wading I reached my favorite hole and paused, pole in one hand, the other outstretched slightly to help me maintain my balance as I watched a large Great Blue Heron launch gracefully off the placid water near the western shore. It flew toward the east end of the lake with incredibly slow, fluid, powerful strokes of its long wings, its long neck stretched out ahead pointing the way with unerring accuracy toward its destination. Sometimes I get so completely wrapped up in the majesty, the unparalleled beauty of a sight like that, I forget that I’m out for some fish, not trophies, just a fish, even a small one, it doesn’t really matter. As the object of my tranquil ruminations disappeared in the trees too far away to follow any longer, I lightly cast my bobber and jig in a spot I was sure would net me some panfish, a blue gill maybe, possibly a perch or small bass, if I was extremely lucky.
I watched the small pencil thin fluorescent orange stem that was the top of my bobber for the telltale dip, indicative of my quarry. The bullfrogs in the swampy underbrush not far away seemed to protest my presence with the their deep coughing croaks. I reeled in my line and tried a different spot across the narrow neck of water where I stood, with the same results.
I pondered adjusting the depth of my bobber as I looked over my shoulder at the setting sun. I surely did want to stay out longer but the county’s deadline, dusk, was fast approaching.
I also began to feel the intrusion of the icy cold in my waders, my feet were becoming numb with it. It was then I decided, reluctantly, I had better call it a night. I waded back to shore and headed for my pickup as the sun balanced precariously on the western horizon, as though it too was reluctant to leave.
I put my fishing gear in the back of the pickup and peeled off my waders, placing them carefully in the truck alongside my pole. The warm air, compared to the late winter water temperature, began to bring feeling back to my toes and I smiled with the sensation.
As I climbed in the truck and put the key in the ignition, I noticed the tightness in my shoulders and neck was completely gone. I felt as relaxed as though I had been on vacation in a different place for an extended period of time. I headed for home with a smile on my lips and a song in my heart. Yep, I thought, today was definitely a good day. I had been skunked at the lake but I still came home a winner.