Yes, it's March. There's an easy way to tell if
it's March, in case you're not sure, other than
looking at the calendar.
The best, most surefire way of determining if it's
March is to keep your eye on folks like me. If you
see us lurching down the street like some bizarre
marionette, it's March. If you talk to us for eight
minutes without stop about your recent trip to the
doctor and the various maladies he said you are
suffering, and we say, "Huh?" at the end of your
dissertation, it's March.
Most of all, if you are with one of us at a restaurant
and tell the waitress, "I think I'll have the fried
fish," and we suddenly slaver from the mouth, tremble
convulsively, our eyes bug out like an amok dragonfly
and suddenly fall face first into our potato soup,
well, it's surely got to be March.
That's what happens in March to fishermen. The spring
is so near, but not quite there yet, and we're about
to go stark raving mad with anticipation. It's been
a short, mild winter really, but even in such cases,
it takes its toll on us.
If you go shopping with one of us, and we walk into
the store and say, "If you need me, I'll be in
sporting goods," and rush away before you can protest,
it must be March. If you are following behind us on
the road in our vehicles, and we suddenly swerve
crazily, slam on the brakes and pull over to the
side of the road, the driver's side door flies
open and we leap out, jump the ditch near the
shoulder, race across a pasture to see if the
water in the pond we just spotted is muddy or
clear, it must be March.
If you call our homes and we pick up the phone and
say, "Yes, I'd love to!" it must be March and we
thought that nobody would dare call us for any
other reason than to go fishing. If you reply that
you were only calling to inquire about our health,
we'll slam the phone down and never answer your
calls again until July, at least.
Don't make road trips with us, in March. A trip that
takes an hour will take four, because we simply must
take every side road, byway and dirt trail we see
to look for fishing holes. Don't try to engage us
in conversation about world events, religious issues,
film, music, pets, computers, bad hair days or just
about any other topic, because we'll only reply,
"Yes, that's all fine and dandy, but where are
they biting and on what?"
Expect no sense of responsibility from us, either.
If the sun is shining, there is no threat of rain
in the immediate forecast, the temperature is
moderately warm and you have invited us to your
annual extravagant get-together with free food,
drinks, door prizes and chocolate cake, don't
expect us to attend. If our children were getting
married on a day such as the one described, we'd
have to send our regrets, and if a daughter were
involved, recruit someone to give her away at the
This is what March does to an angler. Some people
get "spring cleaning" fits in March. So do we. We
clean our tackle, our boats, our lines, our bilges.
Some people say spring makes them feel "frisky."
Fishermen have no time for "frisky" in March. Frisky
is relevant only when it's raining cats, dogs and
pitchforks outside and there is no hope whatsoever
of donning a wet suit with scuba gear and going out
to spear the stupid fish.
In March, church congregation numbers drop
drastically on Sundays when the weather is clear
and fine. Fishermen will remind you that John was,
after all, a fisherman and Jesus did a bit of
angling in his own day, too. Fishermen take this
as gospel that fishingness if next to godliness.
This is evidenced by the number of so-called
"angling widows" sitting in the pews.
One of my best friends is a minister who also
owned a bass boat and loved to fish when he
lived around here. We called him "Preacher
With A Boat." The theory was, you wake up on
Sunday morning, the sun is shining, the birds
are singing and the bass are biting. You skip
church and head out for the lake. But you forgot
about...Preacher With A Boat! Here he comes,
zooming across the lake, a Bible in one hand
and a Zebco 333 in the other, and he says,
in true Pslams style:
All of you anglers get it wrong
Fishing trips take half as long
When you've met:
Preacher With A BOAT!
He thought it was pretty funny, but then, he
was always in church on Sundays in March, too.
This particular parson, one of my best friends
in the world, used to fish with a Snagless Sally.
If you don't know what a Snagless Sally is, let's
just say it's a fishing lure that looks like
nothing which ever lived in the entire biological
history of planet Earth, aquatic or terrestrial,
and gets snagged on almost every cast. But my
friend had remarkable faith in his Snagless Sally,
even though he never caught a fish on it. It's that
sort of faith that I admire, in preachers and in
fishermen. It's probably also why preachers make
dedicated anglers: It requires absolute faith, a
trait required of ministers, to purchase a bass boat,
outfit it with hardware and tackle, dump it into the
water, take off on a 30 mile trip into the Atchafalaya
River Basin without the foggiest idea how you'll ever
find your way back before dark, without hitting a
log and knocking your outboard motor into the drink,
risking snakebite and thunderstorms...to blindly
cast a Snagless Sally into water you can't see
four inches down into in the hopes that a fish
will bite it. The ultimate expression of this
faith is that whatever bites will be a bass,
not a choupique.
So it's March, and we fishermen are gearing up,
shining the boats, checking our bilge pumps and
trolling motors, oiling our reels and organizing
our tackle. We put $30 worth of gas and oil into
the tank, $12 worth of drinks and snakcs into the
ice chest. We drive 48 miles to a lake, wait
impatiently in line to put the boat over, fire
up 175 horsepower V-6 engines with more torque
than our pickup trucks, blast across the water
throwing a rooster tail 85 feet from side to
side...all to try to get an animal with a brain
the size of a BB to bite a hook on what appears
to be a translucent worm that swallowed a bottle
of gold glitter, or a concoction of feathers,
deer hair and lead wire that's supposed to
represent a mayfly. And we wonder, who exactly
has the BB-sized brains?
No matter. It's March, and we aren't using our
brains much anyway. ~ Roger