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Jim Porter fishing articles


A REMINDER

(OUR GENTLE SPORT OF FISHING CAN OFTEN BE HAZARDOUS, ESPECIALLY IF WE FORGET THE LITTLE THINGS.)


by Jim Porter

It had been a pretty good year, so far. Charlie was a new father, had gotten a well-deserved promotion at the plant and, with a bit of scrimping, he'd managed a down payment on a new boat. As he loaded the gear into that boat, he thought about his wife, Betty. She had a pretty good job, herself, and had even gotten a promotion after coming back off maternity leave. The new baby was doing great and Jeffy, age five, was just starting kindergarten. Soft, warm breezes and a few high, wispy cotton-ball clouds gave promise of a fine day for wetting a line, as Charlie backed the trailer down the ramp and into the crystal waters.

Setting the emergency brake, he carefully pushed the shiny, new rig off its carriage and eased it over to the pier. A big, fat Brim made a popping sound as he inhaled an unlucky insect under a nearby log and Charlie smiled at the thought of such a fine day to come on the water.

A couple of tosses of a crank plug on the first point brought a scrappy two-pounder blasting to the surface, doing his dance of alarm across the water's face. Releasing the fish, Charlie made three more unproductive casts with the plug, and then picked up a plastic worm. Dropping it skillfully along the edge of the drop-off, he felt the familiar 'tap' of a strike and set the hook on a nice bass in the four pound range. All right! Lookin' good.

As Charlie re-tied that forever-slipping shoelace, he noted a big-eyed doe and her pair of fawns as they skirted the water's edge in search of morning brunch.

Easing up Hatchatee Creek, Charlie stopped at the head of a run of buckbrush that dotted the outside bend of the second turn in the creek bed. This oft-fished hole was well known to all the local anglers, but the sharp drop at the edge of the brush line was a constant producer of bass. Moving quietly along with the trolling motor, Charlie expertly flipped the white spinner-bait in amongst the mummified remains of the protruding, gray stick-ups. Before covering even half the 50 yard stretch of cover, a chunky two pounder had jumped on the lure and two others, one a really nice fish, had boiled at it. Charlie smiled and noted that the fast retrieve, with the blades just dimpling the surface, would probably work as well in three similar brush areas he knew of. Suddenly, the near-silence was broken as a Largemouth blasted into the white blade-bait as it cleared the outer edge of the brush. Charlie thanked the Creator for fine fishing days and re-tied the troublesome shoelace.

Realizing the drop-off at the edge of the brush line went from six into 16 feet, he decided to make one pass down the area with a medium-depth crank plug. "Just in case that old big one hasn't had breakfast yet", he thought.

Laying in tight to the brush, Charlie cranked the lure down parallel and tight to the drop, making overlapping casts as he moved along. The diving lure bumped lightly along on the bottom, occasionally stirring up little puffs of silt and sand. The strike was sudden and solid and Charlie set back on the bass. Shimmering spray and flexing muscle rose from the water as the six pound fish made his first bid for freedom. When the aerial acrobatics were concluded, he released the game fighter, fixed the pesky shoelace and continued down the channel edge. Two more small fish jumped on the balsa lure and the happy angler again gave silent thanks to the Big Fisherman for great angling days.

A warm breeze channeled into the bend of the creek, twisting and circling as it looked for escape. As the ripples fluttered along the side of the boat and the falling leaves gently kissed the surface, Charlie made a long, last cast down the edge of the brush line. The light, wooden lure hung on the swirling wind for only a split second, but long enough for the reel to backlash slightly, even under Charlie's learned thumb.

Picking out the 'professional overrun' was not difficult and he pulled off a bit extra line to get all the looseness and little kinks out further down the spool. A spawning Carp suddenly made one of her frenzied burrows into the shallows behind Charlie's boat and he instinctively turned to look.

That bothersome shoelace started it all and, as Charlie's opposite foot stepped on its dangling end, a split second of balance was lost. A momentary stab of panic engulfed the angler, replaced quickly by light humor, as he realized he was going to fall in. He was not going to hit anything, was actually falling forward and was an excellent swimmer. "I'm sure glad the water's warm," he mused as he pitched the rod back towards the boat deck and splashed in. With the calm of a confident swimmer, Charlie went to scissors-kick his legs and thrust back to the surface.

Funny, his legs didn't work. A light panic set in. Charlie went to thrust his hands towards the surface and suddenly realized that his right arm was being held at his side by some unknown bond. The degree of panic began to multiply rapidly! Desperately, he tried to kick to the surface. The 12 pound line held fast. Sudden realization began to sink in. All that loose line coiled at his feet from picking the backlash.....!

He tried to free his right hand but the one loop of line behind his watchband refused to budge. Now, total panic! Kick harder! Break that line! Reach down and break it! Three final thoughts went through Charlie's mind as he involuntarily inhaled that first fatal gulp of water--"Why didn't I keep that life jacket on? Why don't I have a pocket knife? Betty, Betty--."

The young doe and her fawns munched quietly on the tender, new grass and the sow Carp moved silently back to the open water. The empty boat rocked gently against the ancient bushes lining the creek channel and the stream of bubbles broke the surface with a light popping sound, gradually diminishing until all was quiet once more.

*************************************************************

"That's an ugly story, not at all what I like to flow from this typewriter. However, it is true. I lost a good friend. Please be careful."


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