|This is work - I can rarely complain, but it doesn't mean the job is easy or stress-free|
I put the Appalachian Mountains in my rearview and headed back into Maryland's piedmont, head still spinning. Buddies, it was a tough week. I spoke at a project dedication ceremony for the first time - a new thing to learn, at a point in my career where there aren't a ton of those. The fact that I really specialize in coastal work and this was a brook trout project in far western Maryland made it more complicated.
In an unrelated story, I was reprimanded at work (protocol, not material issues) for the first time in 7 years, and only the third time in 14 years. I'm still pretty rattled from the experience. And of course at home, we have Hank The Tiny Terror, who is definitely being a challenge right now. Honestly, I was glad to have 6 hours on the highway today, in addition to the three hours I spent at the project dedication. I guess I really hoped that some of the stress, tension, and insecurity would slip away as I wound further down, down the mountains, down off of the Blue Ridge, and back into the land of gentle hills corduroyed with young corn plants and patched with old tobacco barns.
It was 530pm, sunny day, about 90 degrees with near 100% humidity, when I arrived at Prettboy Reservoir, which is between Hanover, MD and York, PA. Brutal conditions, but I know this spot is deep and cold......maybe something would work? Since I'd be shore fishing in the heat and sun, I knew that big bass would probably not be in today's equation, and I'd acquiesced to that fact already.
It's been 3 weeks since the last time I wet a line, or even got outdoors (beyond the garden) on my own, and I just needed some relief. It's almost like I was demanding some sort of stress reprieve from the reservoir and the fish. Funny thing was, I was trying to concentrate on my fishing, and it just wasn't coming. I was having trouble selecting lures (which I never do - it's instinctive). Trouble tying knots (unusual). Trouble placing casts (rare). And trouble bringing fish to shore, which was quite a shock. My head was not in the game at all.
|One of many smallmouth I hooked, and the only one I was able to bring to hand|
I lost a solid 3lb largemouth on an X-Rap by setting the hook after he grabbed it, but before he had closed his mouth - I almost took the hook in my own eye. Watching that big fish rise off of a sunken tree about 8 feet down (the water's very clear) and inhale that lure.....I admit, that was almost worth the price of admission. I lost a very nice smallmouth, maybe 15", at the water's edge, in the vegetation. Lost a dozen other panfish and smaller bass during absent-minded retrieves. Hung lures in the trees repeatedly for no reason, and was really lucky to not lose any. The weather and the laziness of the fish didn't help matters, but I couldn't even tell you where my head was. Rarely do I have such a hard time fishing (when fish are present). I'm so much better than that.
I guess I really hadn't noticed that as I've become a better angler over the last 10 years, the best tool in my tacklebox is actually my mind. I've never really thought of it that way, because it's fishing, which is equal parts fish hunting and fish biology, both of which I have been doing for a very, very long time (30 and 26 years, respectively). Today was a day that sure wish I had brought my mind and spirit with me to the reservoir, instead of leaving them back at the office with my personal imps Worry, Angst, and Paranoia.
Because God knows, those three idiots didn't use it to catch fish today.
|What a beautiful place - it's a shame my mind wasn't there to enjoy it|