Cast & Blast

Doughtie: Why do outsiders get why Waddell is so important while we don't?

Out of curiosity, how did you feel last weekend when you woke up, poked your head outside and it was downright cold?

It may have warmed up as the week went on, but those cool mornings had me all confused.

No doubt, for those of you who hail from north of the Mason-Dixon Line, it was no big deal, but for a skinny little Southern boy like me, it was like I had slipped on a banana peel on a 10th-floor high-rise and tumbled head over heels all the way to the first floor.

Go ahead and call me a ninny-baby, but simply put, I don't like the cold.

This mini-meltdown got me thinking. Squirrels stash nuts for the winter, fish head south for the winter, pets grow more hair for the winter. So what makes us humans so darn different?

Surely you are all familiar with the illustration that shows the evolution of man from ape-like creatures to modern man.

Now that you have that mental image, I'll bet if we all stopped shaving, having this and that waxed, etc., and making ourselves all pretty like, by the time the cold of winter arrived, we would be one hairy mess.

We might think we are above nature, but just like horses and other mammals, our bodies know when the cold is coming and would grow more hair to keep us warm.

By now you are probably thinking, "Is he doing drugs or what?" But honest, it's just the way I think.

Don't believe me?

Ask any person who has spent any amount of time with me, and I guarantee they will back me up.

I believe my aversion to the cold is not something that was taught, it is simply part of my genetic makeup brought on by all the generations that came before me, maybe even as far back as the Doughtie caveman clan and its leader, Ugh.

I also believe that as it gets colder and the days get shorter, there is a chemical change in all of us, with the only possible exception being those who live on the equator, people which, in my book, are strange all the time.

The rest of us have the desire to sleep more and eat more, and if I could get away with it, I would do what I believe Ugh did, which was get all hairy, find a dang cave and hibernate until spring arrived.

I know I'm supposed to be talking about fishing, hunting and the great outdoors, but I just had to get that off my chest.

With that cold snap and winds blowing out of the Northeast at warp 10, the only day I was able to wet a hook was Wednesday.

Al Stokes from the Waddell Mariculture Center had told me that a gentleman by the name of Steve Moore was heading this way from Tennessee with some buds to do some fishing here, and could I help point them to some fishing spots?

As he had been in charge of water quality for the National Park Service for 30 years, I instantly realized it would be easier to show him spots than to try and tell him where to go.

Having been in Steve's shoes in unfamiliar waters before, I know how hard it is to learn new waters and catch fish in just a couple of days, so I asked Steve if I could tag along. Besides, I was interested in talking to him about what changes he had witnessed in regard to water quality over his tenure with the park service.

Wishing the winds would lay down some for our excursion, as we left the boat landing I mumbled to myself the old saying, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride" because it was blowing stink. I wouldn't say the fishing was red-hot, but Steve and his two friends were an absolute hoot.

Fishing primarily for trout, I took them to one of my best trout "drops," but instead of dropping fish on the deck, it was like the trout had dropped off the face of the earth.

But it was still nice to be out on the water and as we fished, I picked his brain about the value of the Waddell Mariculture Center's impact on our area, especially regarding water quality, and his answers were music to my ears.

With the growth of this area and problems such as runoff and increased pressure on our resources, he said the work Waddell has done and is doing make it, without a doubt, one of single most important institutions that can save our waters.

When I told him about our lovely governor doing her best to curtail funding for Waddell, we skipped over the political end and he simply said that what they do at Waddell seems to be the future of water quality management and restocking of our often overstretched resources.

With that said, I scooted to another spot and the trout were there, though mostly small. But between the fish and our surroundings, we had a great time together. Lastly, after getting home, I had one nagging question that stuck in my brain. How on earth could someone from another state, here for just a handful of days, instantly realize the importance of what the Waddell Mariculture Center does while our own elected officials in Columbia do not?

Amazing, simply amazing.

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