Usually when I sit down to write this column I have absolutely no idea what I will write about until that first sentence gets the ball rolling. This week is different. Believe it or not, I actually thought of the subject matter for this week’s column while I was fishing all by my lonesome this past Monday. So what was my revelation?
Fishing solo versus fishing with others. Impressed? Didn’t think so.
Other than the rain and cold that hit us late in the week, the weather for the past couple of weeks has been incredible. Every morning I woke to bluebird skies, spring-like temperatures and smooth as glass water.
When conditions like that present themselves, everything from chores to work go right out the window while I go right out the door with a fishing rod in hand. That’s not really accurate though, because I always carry a couple of rods and various tackle boxes in my car. I used to justify this habit to others by saying if there was a nuclear attack, I wanted to be prepared as best I can. Good one, huh?
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It always amazes me when I run into fishermen friends of mine and ask them if they have wet a line on any of these picture perfect days, and more often than not the answer is “no, I couldn’t find anybody to go with me.”
Thinking back to my younger years, I almost always fished by myself simply because there were only a handful of people my age. But you know what, I learned to love that time by myself, and I can’t count the number of times these solo trips turned into fishoramas – which, if caught on camera, might make the likes of Ernest Hemingway jealous.
Don’t get me wrong, I love fishing with others, but it’s just different. Fishing solo takes me into a zone that is all mine. At times I talk to myself a lot, but mostly I enjoy watching nature doing its thing while getting my head into a peaceful place.
A perfect example happened just this past week as I was walking back to my car after an hourlong angling siesta. With rods in one hand and a tackle bag in the other, a huge red-tailed hawk zoomed right in front of my face and nailed a squirrel that was obviously paying more attention to acorns hidden among the leaves than threats from above. That hawk was 10 feet away at most. I froze in place and watched.
I know you squirrel lovers will hate this part, but that hawk stood there on top of that squirrel waiting for the struggle to end and while doing so had its feathers fluffed up from head to toe with his wings cupped touching the ground.
If looks could kill, that hawk gave me that look. Locking eyes, his seemed to be saying telling me “I dare you to try and take this tree rat away from me. Matter of fact, I double dare ya cuz I’ll kick your butt if you try.” After four minutes or so he finally flew up into a nearby tree with his prize. Now that was some hardcore nature in action, but I was there to see it. It wasn’t cruel at all, instead it was downright awesome!
Just sitting here writing, a couple of other encounters come to mind, like last year when I was sitting on dock fishing during a midday break. It was hot that day, so I had taken my shoes off and dangled my bare feet in the water. More or less in a trance I felt something rub against my foot. Thinking the worst, I came out of that trance in the blink of an eye only to be eye to eye with a manatee.
Easily close to 12 feet long, those beady little eyes begged for more so I began rubbing its head while talking to it like you might talk to a child. For 30 minutes we bonded. It would even roll on its back and let me rub its belly, then roll back upright, extend a flipper and we would shake hands. I am not sure if it was a boy or girl but one thing is for sure, there was love in those eyes.
The second encounter was a month or so ago. I was passing a creek near low tide and saw splashes in the creek that was no more than five feet wide and at most a foot deep. Because my rod was in the car, I pulled over and went for a look-see. Hiding behind a tree I saw the splashes were actually redfish feeding. In the period of 30 minutes I caught 15 slot-size redfish. Talk about cool: I could watch them swimming toward me and just when they reached the lure I had put on the bottom, I would twitch it and they would inhale it.
Covered in mud but wearing a smile, I left, and believe me when I say that made my day. So you see, fishing solo can sometimes be the best thing you can do for yourself unless of course, you forget your rod.