Some would call it the predatory nature of fisherman, sifting through bank side debris analyzing clues left by Nature, or flung objects from the road above, all mixed with the discards from Mankind’s passion with the out-of-doors.
If fishermen are involved we’re certain to be considered a flinty-eyed predatory lot, able to tell genus and species by a partial track in the mud. The reality is more pedestrian, our examination of the bank merely a defensive mechanism ensuring our footing is sound … we know what the water contains and are reluctant to get any on us.
The ratio of crushed beer cans versus broken beer bottles suggested Carp and Catfish responsible for the empty packs of #4 and #6 bait hooks, amid the mashed creamed corn cans and charred remnants of 12-pack cardboard. Outnumbering all else, however, was “mystery fish” bait; earthworm cartons, partially submerged or fluttering gaily amid the blackberry bramble, and legion in number …
From the bridge above, I’d watched the lawn chair crowd bundled for warmth and intent in their fishing. I was hoping someone would get lucky and I’d be able to positively ID my quarry. Anything capable of luring sober men from the warmth of bed, whose rarified palate warrnts the plastic game bucket that accompanied each angler, must be quite a fish.
Murk water neither looks nor smells pleasant, and any fish removed from same has to have a table quality approaching Godly to overcome its oily origin.
… three feet of leader and a bobber, hurled into the center of the watercourse to trail weightless in the current. Panfish came to mind, but without visual confirmation I was left scratching my head as to the Main Event.
The upstream landowner had attempted to domesticate the flow of anglers by playing the environmental card, “Habitat Restoration” featured prominently on tree trunks, but all he’d accomplished was ensure the broken toilets and piles of lathe and plaster stayed in the makeshift parking lot, instead of littering the bank enroute to the creek.
Blackberry bushes are far more effective a barrier than appealing to a sportsman’s sense of honor, as the opportunistic horde doesn’t appear interested in making a sordid little creek less so. The broken concrete rip rap, sunken cars, and tangle of railroad trestle ties dominate the structure in mid-current, giving the earth worm cartons something to flow around enroute to the Sacramento proper.
It’s an outdoorsy trait, with us “sports” caring for the environment, but never caring enough to return to the car with what we brought, leaving a trail of shot shells and forgotten leader dispensers like a plasticine slug trail in our wake.
Mornings are cold and brisk, and while I loiter for additional clues and keep an eye on the competition, I’m following the Army Corp of Engineers flood control dikes and the murky water they hold in check, hoping to find some overlooked and unloved spot that eat the finish off the fly line, and hasn’t been swathed in discarded plastic.
Most of the fields are dry and the canals that feed them contain very little water. Only those farmers that sublet their fields to duck hunters or hunt themselves have standing water.
In turn, those same blinds provide us with “white water” which is a mixture of foam accumulation and aeration, giving the illusion that amid the discarded tires and rusting farm implements, something worth eating may prowl opportunistically …
We’ve lost plenty of flies and found much of interest, but we’ve seen no visible fish activity and caught only Mistletoe. I assumed that to be a subtle message from Them As Lives Below, suggesting I kiss something of theirs … less clean.
Above is one of a dozen different flies I’m testing. Nothing worth naming, but the idea of a scented “Rattlin’ Salmon Egg” causing the magazine censors a bit of apoplexy warms me greatly …