Gator In The Lake

By Lee S. Wilbur

        Right shoulder’s been bothering me this winter. Let’s me know there’s still a serious appendage location. Quite painful at times with a continuing hangover of a numbed index finger. Figured perhaps I’d try to get some strength back one afternoon in spite of gusting wind and large intermittent rain drops. Perhaps relieve some pain with exercise other than daily round of pushups. What doctor could prescribe better limited motion than a bit of fly fishing and most especially since AJ and I have a calendar entry calling for first day of June and some trout fishing upcountry Maine.

        One neat thing about Florida and us old guys, we bring all our old rods down, thinking we’ll need them and perhaps do use them for a while until things like “Golf” or “Bridge”, or too many “Tea” (kind that comes in a bottle) parties take over. Few years pass by and the bride of many years says she’d love to have that space in your closet for a few more of her yard sale dresses and goodies. Being gentlemen we are, and despairing of upsetting afternoon tea or her good cooking, agree that perhaps since that “group” of rods in the shed haven’t been used for some time perhaps we should just part with a few. Few leads to several and an “ad” soon appears online or in the local rag of this great “yard sale” and at the bottom a notation… “Fishing rods”

        Now over the years, I’ve done my part to relieve perhaps more than a few of my compatriots of this burden. Often, towards the end of a sale when few takers have been aroused, said sportsman may wonder what he’ll do having to face the good woman or… take the lot to “Goodwill” and give them away. This is another reason I’ve discovered late morning “yard sales” can yield some outstanding values. Fishing gear and picture frames for what passes as my artistic work (even those containing mundane paintings) can be scooped for little or an “Oh here, throw these in as well…”

        Consequently, I’ve had to bring several rods and gear back to Maine as well as also building an overhead rack at a mobile home I’d purchased several years ago as accommodation. Said racks now getting a bit overpopulated, I’ve had to pass up a few golden opportunities this winter. Not many, just a few. And, the rewards are worth the storage.

        Today was a bit overcast most of the day. Not enough to stay inside, just enough to know that dropping over to one of our neat fly casting ponds might yield a damp shirt but rewards could justify the momentary discomfort. By later afternoon, deciding the book I’m reading, “Ike and Dick” by Jeffery Frank, could stand an intermission, I went out to the shed, took down a few fly rods (rigged) from this winter’s “sales” selected a couple, hopped into this Hyundai “Santa Fe” of questionable age I drive, and went on over to see what might be lured to the surface.

        Took a while to separate the tangles, take out a knot in the leader, and do a few false casts on the grass before the arm was ready to present any combination to what might lurk below the surface. There were a few small fish jumping, probably Sunfish or perhaps one of my favorites, Bass. Started feeding some line out after a few casts remembering not to follow the rod and no bending the elbow when who shows up, “one of the resident alligators”. He/she…I did not inquire….sort of just lay there in amongst the flora and greens “contented watching” look on its face like it might just be daring this boy to fish in “it’s” lake. I made two more casts, once inadvertently taking a slipping step forward.

        Now I’m of the opinion as with most situations in my short life…just passing 75… “Live and Let live.” This was the gator’s “bailiwick” and he’s in charge. Those big eyeballs were telling me something I needed to heed. Not a few days previous we’d been talking to a golfer friend where “gators and crocs” were prevalent on the course and how fast they could move when aroused. I decided perhaps I’d take the smarter move, leave Mr. A. to other pursuits and move to another pond.

        Glad I did. No fish and no Gators and some challenge from the wind. Just what I wanted. I worked the arm for some 45 minutes. Reclaimed a fairly decent throw, even had a few small bass hookup to my honest delight. Bass are a breed most fly fishermen are quick to pass up for the favorites, Trout and Salmon. For my money as the saying goes I just plain enjoy fishing and catching fish. Don’t mind returning those we won’t use for food, which aren’t many, but there’s a lot to be said for working the banks, be they streams or lakes and just having a fish strike with the ensuing blood pressure factor on the climb.

        Probably not much different than shutting off a cove full of herring except you guys get paid in real money, and my payoff is simply enough an enjoyable “free dinner.”