Whip Finish


Ralph Long - Jun 5, 2017

Standing on the bank of a local park pond, I was grinning ear-to-ear while staring at a palm-sized Crappie while seemingly in a world all my own. I was drawing attention. A couple families pulled their young children to the opposite side as they walked past, and my attention was broken for a short minute as a small punt-able-sized dog growled at me while passing. Had I been 6 years old, I feel the posture would have been completely acceptable. Hell, even commendable. But at 53 years old it was just plain old creepy. Yet I failed to realize it until a little girls passed with her mother and after passing said "What's wrong with that man Mama?" Realizing the situation, I turned to answer her and explain, but her mama scurried her away with a stern "shush." Heart-broken because at the moment my mind was firmly locked into 6 year old mode, I moped for a second, until snapping back to present reality and giving a "WHOOP!" as I tossed the small crappie back in. The "whoop" must have been the last straw for the geese behind me, as all 6 of them took off from a distant 3 feet behind me like a squadron of Blue Angels at an air show, dusting the folks in the grandstand. The involuntary "whoop" that followed was a bit embarrassing. A fact that was made even worse as the groundskeeper sitting at a table near me burst out laughing.

"Those geese are awful scary critters!" He said trying to keep a straight face. "First crappie you ever saw?" He asked as he finished with a chuckle. I tried not to look too embarrassed and attempted to laugh along with him, as I turned back to my gear with a smile.

You see, about once a summer I am able to pull off a "Pond Slam"; which is, in pond lingo, to catch the Big Four on one fly in an outing. By the "Big Four" I am referring to a Bluegill, Crappie, and Bass & Pickerel." And if you had not gathered already, on that given night the Crappie was the last of the four. I know I obviously don't get out much. But hey, I fish alone most often and have to capitalize on each victory whether large or small.

I do have to warn you however should you sneak down this troublesome road yourself, be prepared. It is a dark and lonely tale of frustration, with the bones of "the missed rise", "short releases" and "one more's" littering the trail as you fish on. And when the piscatorial gods grant you that 4th fish on a given night? Try to keep your 6 year old self in check. That 200 pound kid apparently scares the bejeebers out of the real children and their parents.


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