TONY AS MY WITNESS

Posted by | August 12, 2010 | On the water | 8 Comments

Like any other fishing morning, Saturday started very early and with a strong pot of coffee. Tony arrived around 5 and we wasted some time talking at the kitchen table, having misjudged first light by about a half hour. By the time we got to the marina, loaded my gear on his boat, untied the ropes and shoved off, it was 5:45. Right on time.

Canandaigua Lake sunrise

Before the sun found its way clear of the hills to the east, we settled into a spot just up from the water treatment plant. It was cold and the breeze couldn’t make up its mind. It pushed us away from shore. We repositioned. It pushed us south along the shore. We repositioned again. We drifted north.

Guess it’d been nice if I remembered the trolling motor, Tony offered.

Fish–possibly trout after minnows–were rising everywhere. After an hour, Tony had fought and landed a scrappy rock bass. I stayed busy pruning weed-beds and exercising most every lure in my tackle box. We decided to head back to the north end of the lake and fish the shallows by Squaw Island.

The Captain

The shallows up near Squaw Island are some of the fishiest-looking water anywhere. 3 – 5 feet deep and gin clear. Weed-beds that all keep an uncanny 10 – 12 inch distance from the surface and hold a buffet of sunnies, bluegill, perch, small and largemouth and pickerel. Tasty, sand-shell-shale-bottomed ambush clearings throughout. Every cast feels fully-loaded…like you’re pitching metal to a lake-full of lightning bolts.

By the time we shut off the engine, the breeze decided to cooperate. As the boat found a nice north/northeasterly drift, the sun continued its climb and the temperature followed. We got back to work.

Some measure success on the water by the size of their catch. Some by the number they landed. Since we had neither size or numbers on our side, we re-tooled our measuring stick. Our morning turned out to be stellar as a result of how many different species we boated and released. We managed a couple perch, more rock bass, a smallie and a pickerel. Four different species in one morning isn’t too shabby considering our slow start.

Get the net

Pretty...and pretty feisty

Sun's up

But our list of species didn’t end at four. As a matter of fact, it even headed into another Kingdom entirely. Within minutes of pulling into the shallows and getting our lines in the water, we had to start thwarting a gull’s best efforts at nabbing our lures.

Yes. I am going there.

I had just made a cast off the back of the boat when I heard from behind me,

Son-of-a…DROP IT, you stupid bird! DROP IT!

I turned around to see Tony in a tug-of-war with the gull. He looked like he was flying an unruly, squawking kite. I reeled in my line so as to not hook up with a bird of my own and went up front to help him. Reeling it down toward the boat slowly, he got it close enough for me to grab the line, coax the bird to fold its wings and sit on the water next to the boat. I must say, Tony played that gull like a pro. Definitely a shoo-in for the BIRD Tour, if there was one.

Tony grabbed the pliers I had in my tackle box and I had him grab my sweatshirt too. I lifted the gull by the line and lure, draped the sweatshirt over it to get those crazy wings under control and grabbed it–carefully and gently–by the neck behind it’s head. The squawks and flapping stopped. Tony removed the hook with one deft, surgeon-like move and, with an underhand toss, I released the bird to the air…and released my sweatshirt into the lake.

Stories like this always seem to belong to somebody else. Always told by someone who was fishing alone, they always seem fantastic and hard to believe. And they usually do not end well for the bird, turtle, muscrat or–occasionally–the fisherman. Not any more. We’d have taken pictures, but our hands were full.

The gull met up with a couple others and flew off, presumably to find another boat with fewer sharp objects being thrown from it. We wrapped up our successful morning with a breakfast fit for a king…or a couple happy fishermen who could corroborate each others story.


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8 Comments

  • Daron says:

    Ha! – amusing post. My Dad once hooked a bat fishing a dusk.. Unfortunately it didn’t end well for the bat.

    • Fishingpoet says:

      Daron – Bats! Ha! That’s definitely another one for the list.

      Karl – that’s awesome you’re getting out again… it’s a cool thing when the kids dig it too. Fall has got to be outstanding in the hill country. I’d just cut line if it were a buzzard!

  • Karl says:

    Awesome blog, Matt. I’ve taken up fishing again…been out a couple times with my son the past few weeks…no luck so far. Texas lakes are feeling like bathtubs and I don’t think the fish are hungry enough to move in the heat. Of course, we’ll be hitting Lake Georgetown on Sunday morning to give it a shot anyway. Praying we don’t catch any buzzards or other birds.

  • Lori says:

    that’s wacky! Why do all those gulls hang out on Squaw, they have taken it over. Strider caught a tree once 🙂 Thanks for the story Matt, good to here you are enjoying the summer.

  • Karl says:

    If it was a buzzard I’d take it to the taxidermist and put it on my dashboard.

    • Fishingpoet says:

      You all either have mighty small buzzards or mighty big dashboards. I’m guessing the latter. You are in Texas after all. 🙂

  • Rebecca says:

    Don’t they call this sort of fishing day a round robin? Or is it a fish/bird fiesta? I know there’s a word for it…..how about grand slam?
    Sounds like a great day and you’re right, having someone around as a witness can be a really good thing sometimes!
    I’ve caught a bat before with a fly. I don’t know how the bat fared, I cut my line. No way was I going in for a fly retrieval.

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