Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lots to see and do when rowing a boat (updated)

I enjoy listening to the way a set of mismatched oars groan inside over-sized oarlocks.

And to hear the oars’ blades sculpt out chunks of water that then pour back into the pond, well, it’s music to this angler’s ears.

Combined they are the sound of work - but not too much work. The sort of noise that meshes with summer very nicely. Not overly done but perfectly in tune to this time of year.

Yes, of course, I could have lugged the aged electric trolling motor to the pond’s edge where the over-turned aluminum boat is positioned.

However, that also would have required a heave and a hoe with the necessary marine battery. Given that doctor’s orders still prohibit me from hoisting more than 30 pounds, the 75-yard, downhill carry of a plump marine battery would not have met with her approval.

Frankly and besides, I like to row; honestly I do. And it’s not just for the needed exercise, either.

I simply enjoy the contemplative opportunity to row around the pond’s skirt, using the boat as the platform from which I can cast lures from one of several fishing poles.

On this particular outing there was the always armed drop shot rig, another one fitted with a buzzbait and a third that had installed a short-billed Bagley Bandit.

Thus equipped I set about the job of tracing the pond’s perimeter. To known places I’d chuck a lure and as often as not, reel in a bass. And it was the bass to which I drew my attention, though the pond’s claim to fame is producing large bluegill/sunfish.

Having made a few prior trips to the pond already this year my appetite for sunfish had been pretty well satisfied. Now I wanted bass, and it was for bass that I was properly rigged.

Of course, the pond’s interior and the adjacent shoreline presented their own sets of distractions. None of which I minded, by the way.

Especially inviting was the bird life and trying to identify what exactly I saw. I was happy with my identification abilities, though few were the species that anyone would call unique, let along, rare.

The were a couple of prehistoric-looking great blue herons, several crows and a large flock of grackles, which heartily feasted on bugs that were churned up by a recent mowing operation.

Flitting atop the pond’s surface and than lighting on tree snags were a couple of Eastern kingbirds, a common enough bird species that might elicit a yawn and a shoulder shrug from an experienced birder.

No matter, kingbirds are curious creatures who seem to like to pry into whatever it is that I’m doing. Not so a male red-wing blackbird that again was very protective of a shrubby tree that overlooks the pond.

I can’t say for certain it’s the same blackbird I saw perched on the same branch last year and the year before that and the year before that, but I wanted to believe that it was, as unlikely an assumption that was, however.

On the pond proper swam a decorative male mallard which kept a wary eye on my progress. So did a hen turkey and her three or four poults that weaved between an uncut field of foxglove and a mowed strip.

When the hen didn’t like something she saw she quickly gathered up her clutch and skedaddled to the safety of the nearby woods.

Much less troubled was a hummingbird that was using a barren branch high above in a long-since departed tree. It is the same tree that in the fall attracts roosting morning doves as well.

Bringing a smile to my face were the many chimney swifts and a solitary bluebird.
I guess that you might think I spent nearly as much time looking for bird life as I did for largemouth bass. That’s not entirely true.

What the trip was a pleasant way to enjoy a late spring/early summer day, catching up on birding and bass fishing. It’s a dandy combination if you’re not in any hurry, which I wasn’t, I hasten to add.

As far as the bass fishing went, that started out slow but picked up as the morning inched onward. I must have tried eight or so different lure types. The only ones that didn’t seem to work were that Bandit crankbait and a quarter-ounce chartreuse/white spinnerbait, which was an amazing surprise.

Spinnerbaits are typically deadly on this farm pond’s bass. The fact that it failed me this one time only means I have an excuse to revisit the pond for a second try.

By the time the sun began to boil my top knot and my arms had begun to tire from the rowing, I had caught a few dozen bass. While none were over 15 inches I had on two occasions tangled with what I thought were much larger largemouths.

That is another excuse I can use for updating my resumé with the pond.

With the fishing gear pulled from the boat and the vessel returned to its overturned rest, I was able to hobble my stiffened legs and creaky bones back to the car.

I had a good day, about as pleasant as one can expect. And knowing that it represented a template for other visits only made the venture all that more memorable; one in a long line of such riches.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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