When my alarm clock sounded at 0515, I almost wanted to growl and snarl, a wolf not wanting to see the light of day. I was scared; yes, I was in fact scared of what awaited me on this day. I had accepted a personal challenge that week, a goal that would both help my skills and my notoriously low morale: a fish on topwater, this angler's first fish on a floating piece of hard plastic.
I was scared that my skills wouldn't be enough. I was scared the spot I had picked out would be a bust. I was scared I would forget something critical; my camera, my GPS, my cell phone. The day previous, I had spent the day painting my milk crate, cleaning my reels, trying to put my shaky mind at ease. But no matter what I did, the fear crept in and the realization that this would be a big step in the evolution of me becoming a better anger made no task simple. Gotta love pressure.
I rolled out of the bed, grabbed my clothes, slid on my Columbia Shadow Heights jacket, brushed my fangs, and headed out the door. Wouldn't you know it, my milk crate remained where it was the day before, drying on a cinder block. That realization hit me half way to Theo's landing in Pointe Aux Chiens, a classic Homer Simpson "D'oh!" moment. Trailer backed to the ramp, I put my phone in its waterproof case, got the Ride 115 down, put the seat in, put the rods in the tank well, parked the Explorer, and completely forgot the cell in the truck. Already, two of my fears had come flesh. To add acid to the rain on my parade, the gnats, those tiny, evil creatures, were flocking around anything organic, I. E, anyone dumb enough to not put on some Skin So Soft or Amber Romance. Aka me.
Finally getting on the water, my Humminbird 160 decided to begin malfunctioning, displaying depth one second then not the next. Already frustrated, I Rangered on toward the spot I had picked as the stage for today's performance: a cutin a pond, leading to a canal and deep marsh I had dubbed Thermopylae for the great speed that water pushes thru it when the tide runs. A few weeks previous, I had missed a giant of a fish here, and a week before that I had caught my first redfish on jighead here. And now, gods willing, it would be the spot of another first
It had taken me a bit to get the hang of the "Walk The Dog" technique so many have called the retrieve that a topwater like the Heddon Super Spook Jr. does, shaking back and forth, the rattles sounding like off beat tamborines. But once I got the hang of it, I knew my skills would suffice. But would the spot I had picked out have fish? It didn't take long to find out.
On the fifth retrieve, I thought I saw a white wave under the lure, a splash under it not caused by my weird retrieve. But when the speckled trout hit the lure a second time, mouth agape, knocking the lure up and falling on it, I felt my breath catch, my throat let out a loud, heartly yell, and the backbone of the Abu Garcia seven foot Vengeance rod set the hook on my first ever fish on a topwater lure.
Two more gatormouths, from fourteen to sixteen inches, joined the first, gifting me with the most beautiful predations on the Spook. I felt like I was in South Africa, watching great whites pounce on seals to give them hugs, or eat them. After a while, the bite died down, and I decided to go ahead and check the ponds and flats for reds. Just outside the cut, a two foot deep flat called out to me with two swirls. A cast, a few twitches, and a volumtuous bulge of water came behind the lure, as the mouth of the copper back inhaled the lure. Drag screamin', rod bendin' action insued, my screams of enjoyment heard allover the marshes of the south. I tried to measure her, but she was still green, and her mother, the ocean, beaconed her to slap me with her tail and get away.
I ended my day boating four beautiful fish, all returned to their homes. I proved to myself that I was a well rounded angler, and that I could do anything I put my mind to. I wonder now, as I sit in my abode, watching Archer, what my next goal will be....