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Sporting Life by Dennis Doyle

Try tricks for lure handling

       My memory of that event is as painful as an abscessed tooth. Just this time of year, a bit later in the morning than is best for top-water, my last stop was unusual. It offered no real underwater structure other than a nearby inlet to a tidal pond. But I knew from experience that rockfish would sometimes cruise the length of the shoreline looking for shrimp and minnows pulled out of the pond by the falling tide.

Today we call it renewal

      “There are no second acts to American lives,” Jazz Age novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald told us. That may have been true back then, though I doubt it; today it is certainly a falsehood. Many people move on to second or third acts better than their first.
Brook trout are native, but many imports are stocked in our streams
     My first trout was long ago, but I remember it like yesterday. The early morning mist was still clearing off the small stream. The sun had just begun to make its presence felt as I fished a five-weight, seven-foot fly rod about 20 feet off to one side of the creek to avoid spooking fish.

On the other side, chill nights and cold rains will prove our allies

      The sporting life can be a dirty, thankless job, but someone’s got to do it.       This past week proves my bromide true. After battling relentless heat and uncooperative fish, we are pelted by rainsqualls, wind and more rain. Not much fun.        Already we’re dealing with one Hurricane Florence, and a number of as yet unnamed tropical storms are queuing up in the Atlantic. 

Autumn’s feeding frenzy will fatten your chances

      I finally got my second keeper rockfish at about 11am, but only after releasing some dozen undersized schoolies and more than two dozen burly and uncooperative channel cats. The sun had already been blazing hot for some time. I was scorched and pooped as I headed back in for a shower, a sandwich and a nap.

That’s fishing’s Golden Rule

       As soon as I flipped the small Norfolk spot overboard with a thin 6/0 circle hook trailing from just in front of its dorsal fin, the rockfish tidbit twitched its way into the depths. The tidal current was barely starting to move along the bridge support as I fed out line from my baitcaster and tried to estimate how close to the bottom, 30 feet below, the frisky bait was approaching.

A sporting lifetime begins

       Having practiced with the colorful rod and reel he got for his birthday, Logan was finally in the bow of my skiff, targeting the water near a rock jetty. He tensed, then sent the small spinner bait sailing through the air.       Though the cast went a little wide, it still landed in a good area. He shifted the rod in his hand and began to crank the handle. But after only a few turns, the reel froze.

I get along with both, preferably together

      At one point in an earlier life, when living in Washington, D.C., I had a particularly personable black kitten. Guiness would go for long walks with us around the neighborhood, striding directly under his sworn protector, a friend’s large Belgian sheepdog. Their close relationship went on for over two years until we all eventually drifted apart and on to other things. While they were together, they were a memorable team.

Cold, oxygenated fresh water follows in the wake of murk and logs

But where have the bigger fish gone?