Some guys just know where to look for fish.
I've heard it said that they can "sniff 'em out."
While I'm sure it's true that some guys have a
certain "sense" that helps them locate fish, there
is nothing better than having a good fish detector
to help you find a fish. I think I have found the
ultimate fish detector, and I suppose it's time to
tell you about it; but first I need to lead into
this story like all good writers seem to do.
My basset hound (Buford) thinks he gets to go with
me anytime I get into my vehicle on a day when I'm
not working. That is especially true if I have a
fly rod or camera in my hand. I don't think he
really cares if I'm going fishing or just running
to the hardware store to buy something I need for
the latest honey-do project. He just likes to go
for a ride anytime he can get one.
One thing I have learned about Buford is how well
his nose works. That hound can smell ten-day-old
rabbit tracks after a hard rain. I'm betting he
can detect the breed, sex and direction of travel
of any cat that crossed his path in the last month,
and he gets just as excited over a cold trail as he
does over a fresh one. Another thing that nose of
his can detect is fish. Not that he has a special
fondness for fish or anything, in fact, I think they
bore him; but he certainly has a nose for the creatures
of the deep, and that can be very useful. (Notice how
I'm leading you into this story?)
Before I sold my powerboat, I occasionally took
Buford with me fishing for perch and crappie. He
would get all excited standing in the bow, wind
flapping his ears around and making his cheeks puff
out. He enjoyed that more than sticking his head
out of the window while driving down the highway.
However, if we cruised over a school of fish, he
would lay down in the boat and roll his eyes back
in that "I'm bored" expression he always gets when
he knows I'm going to stop and try to catch a fish.
It was a foolproof way to know if I was over fish.
(More leading in.)
I'm a firm believer in observation. In fact, I think
the first 15 minutes on any body of water should be
dedicated to observation. I think that belief started
the first time I took Buford fishing. It takes about
15 minutes for him to sniff and hydrate all the
streamside vegetation. Careful observation during
this initial fact-finding session is very important.
For some reason, dogs have this acute desire to
acknowledge any markers left behind by other creatures.
Watching Buford attempt to reply to a message left by
a Great Dane or Doberman is worth the trip right there.
In that case, the initial observation period usually
takes more like 30 minutes, but it's definitely worth
it. (A slight literary detour designed to lure you
away from the actual plot.)
After the observation period, there is the fact-finding
period. That's when Buford heads to the water's edge
and sniffs it for clues. Since I don't have that boat
anymore, this is now done on a favorite stream. After
depositing a few more business cards on streamside
bushes, Buford usually heads upstream looking excited
and alert. However, as soon as he smells a fish, he
lies down, rolls his eyes and starts looking bored.
He doesn't even get excited when I land a fish. He
just looks up at me with those eyes that say, "Are
you having fun now?" (Notice how I supported this
paragraph with an earlier paragraph? I think you're
supposed to do that in a good story.)
I can even tell if the water is loaded with a
lot of fish or a big fish. The expression on
his face says it all. Severe boredom means lots
of fish, while serious boredom means a big fish.
A slight roll of the eyes indicates a small fish
hardly worth the attempt. He always knows what
is there, and about how long it will take before
he gets to search some more.
Since Buford hates to get wet, I don't have to
worry about him ruining my fishing by swimming
in a fishing spot. He doesn't even like to get
his feet wet. If it weren't for the fact that
he likes to follow stray scents, I wouldn't have
to worry about him at all. (Another slight detour,
but this one will take me to the point where I
go for the kill.)
There has to be some name for a talent like Buford
has. I think we should call him a "sniff fish
finder" or "ultimate sniff fish detector." My
friends have other names for him, but I think
they are jealous of my talented fishing buddy.
I just know he can accurately detect the location
of any fish. In fact, his talents are so accurate;
he hasn't failed me yet. Well, I guess there was
that time he discovered the not-so-cold skunk track,
but I don't want to go there again. EVER!