I’m not exactly positive why I’m out here. I mean, I know why I loaded the canoe on the Jeep in the wind and pitch dark last night, and I know why I drove here straight from work. But I don’t know why, since I don’t expect to catch anything. Time is limited this late in the year. After work I’ve only got about two hours of light now before the stars start to glimmer in the cold fall sky, or like today, before the clouds steal away another twenty minutes by snuffing out the twilight that much earlier. I loaded up the canoe in the dark last night because it was the only time I could finally get out there to do it, and I’m here now because it’s the only light left and the closest water I can get to in a hurry. But like I said, I don’t figure on catching anything, so, why?
The 7wt is rigged up with a full sinking line, a 30lb mono leader and twelve inches of wire connected to a four inch streamer. Buck tail, flash, eyes and UV resin, I tied it last night right before loading up the canoe for no other reason than I haven’t tied anything in a couple weeks at least. The tying bench has been a pile of chaos for just as long, and I told myself if I tied something I’d need to clean the bench up first. So maybe it was just the motivation to clean that I needed. So I did. I picked everything up, placed hackles back into bags, picked up two buck tails, sorted some marabou I’d tossed into a pile like the neighbors leaves out to the curb, vacuumed feathers and hair and hung bobbins. And then I got back out a pack of hooks, a bag of strung hackles, two more buck tails, and a bundle of flash and proceeded to lay the cleaned and orderly tying bench to waste in a matter of minutes. Nothing lasts forever.
It’s getting cold. It didn’t get much above forty today and now it’s in the upper thirties as the sun hides behind the gray clouds and drops closer to the horizon. I make a few casts to what I believe is deep water on the edge of a drop off, but who knows for sure. Well, I guy with a depth finder would know, but not me. I’m just guessing by the fact that the weeds have stopped basically, and that I can let the sinking line pull the streamer down quite a ways now and I’m still not snagging the bottom. I’m making slow retrieves, but every now and then I might give a quick short shake to add a little frantic jerk to what I feel looks like a good bait fish imitation. But for all I know there’s two pike down there swimming alongside it laughing their asses off, nudging each other now and then with tears of laughter in their eyes and motioning up to me with a head movement. Fish making jokes at my expense. Sounds reasonable.
On the trail that parallels the canal a mountain bike goes by, a wave from a gloved rider with a big winter jacket, a beanie hat, and his breath in the air. Quick short puffs. Probably Indian smoke signals for Hey stupid, it’s cold out and you’re standing out there in a canoe in the wind casting to nothing. It could be worse. I forgot gloves and it could be snowing. My fingers aren’t as cold as they could be.
The onset of fall, knowing winter is right around behind it, it sends me into a bit of a panic. It’s like suddenly getting slapped in the face with a black leather glove full of reality, that time does indeed run out for everyone sooner or later. It comes sooner for those of us in the north where the snow and ice could at any time cover our opportunities, many of them anyhow, for months. It sends me into a bit of a panic. One that has me in a canoe on a cold day after work making Hail Mary casts to fish that may or may not be there. There’s probably a story in that somewhere if I look hard enough.