Had the chance this weekend to hang out with my father at his trailer located on a lake up in the picturesque Blue Ridge mountains. Dad’s a lifelong fisherman, and so greatly values having a place where he can take out the boat and take on the challenge of trying to outwit the (mostly) small-mouth bass, large-mouth bass, and stripers that populate Smith Mountain Lake.
Friday afternoon was a bit overcast, making for a pleasantly mild setting as I rode out with Dad for an hour’s worth of fishing before dinner. I didn’t even take a rod myself, content instead just to sit back and enjoy a serene moment out on the water. With a beer in hand and In a Silent Way softly piping through the boat’s stereo, I got a great deal of enjoyment out of just watching my father pursue one of his most favorite activities.
Another reason why I didn’t take a rod is, well, I don’t really fish. Which is perhaps why I find simply following the mechanics of someone else fishing more interesting than would the person who knows more about it. Dad explained to me how he had been working on a couple of new strategies, one of which concerned the way he was concealing -- or actually, not concealing -- the hook with the lime-colored artificial worm he was using.
We rode around the edge of the lake and parked it near one of the wooden piers where Dad pitched his line in on the shady side. Wasn’t thirty seconds before a tug on the line signalled he’d already hooked something. He had little trouble pulling the modest-sized -- about a pound-and-a-half or so -- large-mouth bass into the boat. There was, however, a bit of slapstick when after Dad unhooked the fish it slipped out of his grip and onto the carpeted floor of the boat, flopping maniacally a foot or two into the air several times before finally being secured and delivered back into the water.
We trolled across the lake to fish near another pier, Dad occasionally peeking at the depth finder to get an indication of the activity below. As we travelled, he mentioned something about moving from place to place, mentally mapping the lake by “eliminating bad water” (i.e., non-productive spots). Took just a few minutes before he’d landed another, similarly-sized large-mouth, again without too much struggle.
Eventually we headed back, stopping one last time near the property just across the lake from Dad’s trailer. Again Dad dropped a line in, and again he quickly felt that familiar tug as another large-mouth had taken the hook.
“Look at that!” he suddenly exclaimed, and I moved to the front of the boat to see.
As the hooked fish moved back and forth about a foot or so beneath the water’s surface, a much larger -- probably five- or six-pound -- large-mouth was following it closely behind. It wasn’t clear whether the larger fish was in fact contemplating a meal of his own or just curious about his twitchy colleague.
Dad moved the rod over to his left hand and leaned over to pick up a second rod, thinking he might be able to land the larger fish as well. However, after three or four trips back and forth in front of the boat, the larger fish had disappeared. Dad released the catch and we sailed back.
We tied the boat and walked back up the hill to the trailer. I mentioned in a non-specific way how fishing was like poker, and together we quickly sorted through the many parallels. I had thought I might spell out some of those analogies here, but I decided to leave ’em unsaid. They all already occurred to you as you read, anyway, I’m sure . . . .
Like I said, sometimes it’s fun just to sit back and watch.
Labels: *shots in the dark