Enchantment Slapstick

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Published on: Sep. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 25, 2010

mud from erosion.

Still, largemouth bass are tolerant fish and a certain amount of fertilization can enrich a stream's food base. I hoped that once I got past the last beer can, the stream would take a shaky breath and reclaim some of its historic charm.

It did. I clambered over a gravel bank where the bulldozers had been, then slogged across a weedy gravel bar and waded around the bend. No tab tops here, no beer cans nor sandwich wrappers.

The long pool was shrouded with tall trees. A rank of rocky ledges guarded the left-hand bank and a wooded bench ran along the right side.

Four casts into the pool, a one-pound largemouth intercepted my spinner and threw it back at me as it cleared the water. Then I caught a 6-inch bass which also slipped the hook.

Obviously time for hook sharpening. I didn't mind losing the fish because I didn't plan to keep them anyway. Most of my stream fishing is catch-and release. Occasionally I'll get fish hungry and keep a few green sunfish or goggle-eye, but bass go back unless they're deep-hooked and injured so badly they'll die anyway.

The third bass was one of those. It swallowed the spinner and even though I gently backed the hook out of its gill, it streamed blood.

It was over the 12-inch minimum, so I filleted it on a streamside log. I replaced my sandwich in a sealable plastic bag with the fish filets, then sat on the log to eat the sandwich and watch the day go by.

Yellow butterflies jittered through the trees like errant sparks from a fire. Sycamores towered over the stream, and I hoped they would continue to shade and cool the water.

The NFL season was opening and most of America, at least the macho half, was home watching one bunch of glandularly-disturbed human beings pound knots on a similarly overmuscled bunch.

Me? I was sitting on a log listening to jays gripe, with my mind as empty as a desert at noon. I finished the last of my chips and soda, stuffed the trash in my fanny pack, and suited up again.

There was a cup of wooded land below a pasture in a bend just down the river. I heard a turkey yelping and another answering with the raspy voice of a jake. I eased down the stream, making no noise, and confronted a half dozen turkeys that instantly sprinted

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