Friday, October 29, 2010

Fishing Buddies Are Unique Treasures

Fishing Buddies Are Unique Treasures

All my life I have been blessed with an extreme rarity. I have had some fishing buddies who will put an opportunity to fish ahead of most anything that might constitute a distraction to the less dedicated. On the day I am thinking of now, two of my current fishing companions showed themselves worthy. Big Sam came to the rescue of my frog fly, while Alan sat in awe of my clumsiness, wondering if I was okay, ready to rescue. We were fishing on Labor Day down Georgia’s Ocmulgee River on shelf number seven.

I know it is shelf number seven because I numbered them to give reference to more specific parts of the Ocmulgee in relating my fishing tales. I have heard it said that more fish are caught by the tale than any other way. The name Ocmulgee comes from the Hitchiti Indians who populated the region in the 1700s and means where the water boils up or laughing water due to the bubbling, gurgling, sometimes roaring shoal water that makes up the beginnings of the river as it crosses the fall line. Alan was nearby when I wrapped my frog fly around a limb that singularly stood out about seven feet overhead. This was the only frog fly I had so I decided to attempt retrieval. Being in my mid sixties, I am also minus one big toe to a youthful lawnmower accident, left foot, and still recovering from a compound fracture of my right lower leg/ankle. Happened last year when I jumped 12 feet from a ladder before it threw me off while preparing for opening day of deer season. I have bonafide reasons for being tipsy on my feet. Even though I am a teetotaler, I sometimes wobble. No one will ever call me graceful. I stood up in my canoe which is an ugly feat I seldom attempt. Then I used my fly line, which was still tied to the frog fly, in my right hand to pull the very lowest part of the limb to my left hand. I got a grip on the limb and turned loose of the line with my right hand. The tip of the limb, the part I was holding, promptly broke off and the canoe began to jitterbug. I didn’t know it at the time, but Alan was taking it all in, having put his fly rod down thinking possibly my antics could be more entertaining than fishing. He said later he was concerned for my safety so he was preparing for rescue if needed. At the point that the limb broke and the canoe did the hoochee coochee, I instantly decided to collapse into the seat of the canoe and down I went. I made the decision just as fast as I decided to jump from the ladder when I broke my leg last year. This time I had success, my boat stabilized and I survived the crash unscathed.

Now it gets interesting. I am somewhat of an optimist and overestimater of my physical abilities. With a new air of confidence, having survived the first attempt, I stood again. I could just, just aboouut reach that limb even with the tip broken off, and so I stretched just an inch more. That’s when the canoe had had enough. As though it had a mind of its own, it decided not to be my calm platform anymore, rather it wanted to play rodeo bull so it made a hucklebuck type move, first dipping to the right, then to the left. Before it could flip or dip I went out to the right side and was airborne for about two seconds, maybe, before gravity took over. I could hear the sound of the splash beginning, not unlike Shamoo bursting the surface of the water after having grabbed a fish from the trainer. Big Sam said when he looked over to where the sound came from all he could see of me was my hat floating. Of course, the canoe was still dancing in the wake of all the displaced water. No harm done except to get wet.

Some people don't approve of hand pumps to empty water from a canoe, preferring to manhandle them and dump the water out. However, at the scene of this unceremonious ejection, the water was 4 feet deep, the brush was dense, and there was no nearby log or rock. The only option I had was to use my pump. For those who only approve of dumping the water from a swamped canoe, I apologize for being such a wimp. There was only maybe a gallon of water in the boat anyway. Now, thanks are due to Big Sam, though we both likely weigh over 210 lbs, him being 6 ft 6 inches compared to my five eleven, he voluntarily came to the rescue of the frog fly and retrieved it for me. Alan, for his part, was the first to ask if I was okay. Fishing buddies are unique treasures.

© Blackwater
Bill Prince
September 6, 2010