By the time you read this, I fervently hope I'm
cured of the malady that has been afflicting me
and getting progressively worse for the past several
weeks - the "shack nasties," also known as "cabin fever."
The shack nasties attack only a small part of the world's
population, non-hunting fishermen who live far enough
north that it gets too cold and unpleasant to fish and
far enough south that the ice never gets thick enough
for ice fishing. With the advent of the Internet, the
shack nasties has taken on a particularly virulent form.
At first it appeared that cooped up fishermen could
ameliorate the worst of their condition by talking
with the similarly afflicted over the Internet, but,
as it turns out, fishermen who are able to wet a line
intrude on the conversations of the ailing with glowing
reports of how things are in their parts of the world,
which only serves to exacerbate the problem. By the time
us sufferers hit the middle of March experiencing what
one frustrated fisherman called "a 90-day February,"
we can get almost psychotic - kind of like having sleep
deprivation psychosis only worse. You start seeing
conspiracies out to get you.
In January, for example, the Virginia Department of Game
and Inland Fisheries sends out its annual trout issue of
Virginia Wildlife. The shack nasties are barely
incipient by then, so sufferers can look at the pictures
of folks happily casting fly rods on pristine mountain
streams, read the stocking schedules and other information
without any sense of that, 'the department is out to get them.'
Then, at some point in February, sufferers may idly go to
the department's website and check out what waters have
been stocked the previous week at which point thoughts
such as, "I bet they didn't. They're just saying that
because they know it's too rotten to go out and I can't
check up on them," start running thru the shack nasties
sufferer's mind. Then, the March "Virginia Wildlife" comes
out with an article saying that the yellow perch are running
and implying the creeks are slam full of them, but it turns
out they're lying, trying to ruin our faith in the
I know. Last week, I told Ol' Jack about the yellow perch
and Sunday, the only decent day we've had this year, he
went up Totuskey Creek looking for them. He didn't catch
anything but a buzz. Me, I couldn't even go catch that.
A lady friend had hauled me off to an Association for
the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities meeting in
Gloucester. (I'll bet she's in on the conspiracy, too.
If she ever mentions knowing Virginia Wildlife's editor,
Lee Walker, I'll know they're plotting to drive me around
Maybe I can hold it together a few more days. The weather
forecasters say it's supposed to warm up by the end of
the week, and I did hear tree frogs the other evening.
(At least, I thought I heard tree frogs. Did anybody
else hear tree frogs?) If I did hear tree frogs, warm
weather and fishing can't be but so far off can it?
Anyway, if I stay busy, maybe I can hold on. Let's see,
another dozen flies tied couldn't hurt. Cleaning my rods
and reels again may help. Maybe I can Scotch tape the
latest American Angler together and find something
in it I haven't read. Gotta quit staring at fishing stuff
on eBay, though. Can't afford any more equipment, and all
I got this winter hasn't stopped the shack nasties.
I know, I'll e-mail Chuck Scheerschmidt in Florida. See
if the shad have reached the St. Johns River. If they
have, maybe I can get a grip by following their migration
up the coast over the Internet. If I'm lucky, they might
get to the Rappahannock by early April, if I can hold
out that long.
Maybe, I'll get lucky. Maybe the weather forecasters
will be telling the truth, the weather will ameliorate
by the end of the week and I can catch a fish, any fish.
Once I do, I know I'll be OK.