Here at the precipice of spring, my nerves
get all jangly and on end. The willow trees
are budding, and that's a sure sign the
sac-au-lait (that's crappie to you folks
north of I-10) are moving into the shallows,
along with the first few brave bluegill and bass.
I am a nervous wreck. The winter's got me
all frazzled, and the nearness of spring is
like candy in a locked glass jar. One of the
disadvantages of my part of south Louisiana
is the effect of the river, which is also its
advantage. Truly, when the fishing here is on,
there's no better anywhere, but the river is
cranky and easily influenced by so many things
that happen in the Gulf of Mexico and away up
north. Rains right now in the Midwest are
promising that the slow drop of the river, and
basin, over the last few days will cease, and
everything will rise again. In fact, predictions
are that it may be July before the basin gets
right for fishing this year with all the water
expected from up north.
That's the paradox of this area. When it's good,
it's awesome. When it's bad, it's terrible. There
are very few non-river-influenced lakes within
driving distance to satisfy me. Those areas south
of the Atchafalaya Basin Protection Levee tend to
clear up sooner than the basin itself, but that
just means every fisherman who's as stir crazy as
I am right now will be out there until the basin
The waiting is the hardest part. Temperatures
are in the seventies today, but the water is
high and muddy, pummeled by south winds and
rains late last week. More rain is expected
later this week, on the weekend, of course.
Last weekend, with nice temperatures but wind
blowing fifteen to twenty miles per hour, I
pulled my fiberglass boat out of storage for a
good cleaning, charging the batteries and the
like. I haven't had a chance to finish my wooden
skiff, which will eventually replace the bass boat,
but I don't think it'll be this year.
Meanwhile, fishing locales east and west of
the basin are heating up. Good catches of
sac-au-lait are being reported in some
impoundments already, and last week an
eight-and-a-half pound bass was taken from
the University Lake at LSU in Baton Rouge.
Makes me downright miserable. All the fish
in my area are swimming in chocolate milk.
There are a few ponds I can haunt, but I
need the basin, running water, the river
and the lake.
I obsess over Ebay when I can't obsess over
going fishing. My "watch list" usually has
twenty or more bamboo rods on it. I hardly
ever buy one, you understand, but I like to
watch as a learning experience. I have learned
a lot from Ebay, but others haven't. For
instance, it always amuses me that the item
listing for "Bamboo Fly Rod" turns out to be
a baitcaster, and "Vintage" and "Antique" are
automatic if a rod is bamboo, since such things
are surely relics.
There are also the listings for a "fly pole" or
"fish pole" on an eight-foot Orvis Battenkill in
mint condition. Those crack me up nearly as much
as the "Antique Vintage Fly Fishing Rod, Possibly
A Garrison" that the picture clearly reveals is
uncut bamboo stalk similar to what Huck Finn might
have used in a Twain book. If it's ferruled, the
listing adds the word "Rare."
Now, you can tell that some sellers find a low-grade
Japanese rod in a garage sale somewhere, do a
four-second perusal of bamboo rods on the 'Net
and set a reserve price of $2,000 for it with a
"Buy It Now" price of $3,000. What I am constantly
on the look for is someone who does absolutely no
research and lists a "fish pole" at $9 Buy It Now,
for an eight foot Granger Deluxe. So far, no cigar.
But I did run across a Battenkill listed as a "bambu
fly poll" that was in mint condition and sold for
$113, and of course, I was flat busted at the time.
I even tied a few flies over the last few months,
despite my decrepit vision. Mostly Jitterbees, a
couple McGintys and several of my own concoction
that are probably going to have the fish jumping
on the bank in terror when I present them. Doesn't
matter, because even though my eyes hurt and I had
a headache when I was done, I had a great time
doing it. It passed the time on a cold winter's
My fly boxes are full now, mostly from Ebay
purchases, as I do every winter to stock up.
My lines are all dressed and my leaders all
replaced, reels oiled and rods spic-and-span.
I refurbished two bamboo rods this winter I'm
dying to get to the water with, and am in the
process of creating another banty rod out of
a heavy nine-footer. Ought to be a pretty good
Today it's raining pitchforks and Gen. George
Armstrong Custers all over the Rez and here at
work. It's so dark outside I feel like I'm
working the late shift, if we had such a thing
at the newspaper. Monday night I had to cover a
budget workshop for the city council that lasted
over two hours. I have another one tonight, and
Thursday there'll be a meeting of the city historic
district commission and the following Monday
another budget workshop, followed by a meeting
of the local port commission. I am exhausted and
frazzled. Sometimes, after a couple hours at these
meetings when I've had about all I can stand of
line items, deficits, expenditures, revenues, bond
issues and utility rates, I just want to stand up
and scream, "Oh, why don't we all just say the hell
with it and go fishing???" So far, I have been able
to restrain myself and maintain good journalistic
conduct. This is probably also good reason why my
checkbook is always an undecipherable mess.
Bear with me. I know most of you are the same way.
Spring's coming, it's just around the corner. A
watched pot never boils, you know. Think about
something else, and the next thing you know, it'll
be time to fish. To keep my mind off of it, I think
I'll go balance my checkbook. If I emerge from this
task before summer, I'll file a fishing report, I promise.