Sunday Afternoon on the River

We fishers have a saying, “the best time to go fishing — anytime you can.”

It can’t really be that old of a saying. It probably comes from our fairly recent times where we can’t fish whenever we want. Years ago when we were more agrarian, or perhaps when we were kids without all this r-word hanging around our necks, we could fish whenever we wanted to. But now for many of us, the opportunities appear scattered around the calendar like bones on the soothsayer’s table.

So after replaying this axiom in our minds time and time again, it becomes a reflex.  When that pang of boredom creeps into the back of your mind and you find yourself standing in the doorway thinking, what was I supposed to be doing right now? You think, nothing? Seriously? I don’t NEED to be doing anything? Is that possible?

That’s when you look at your watch, nod a bit, and then briskly walk to gear closet and select your rod.

This past weekend we had one of those moments in my house. My wife told me she was going shopping with her parents.

My 6 year old son looked me, and said, “Dad, lets not go.”

I affirmed his suggestion as a good one, and said, with a reflexive air, “let’s go fishing.” I then walked briskly to the gear closet and picked out a rod.

Being that it was the middle of the afternoon on one of the hottest days of the year it wasn’t AT ALL a good time to go fishing. But it’s when we could go.

We loaded up and hit the river. We fished a pool that has some good smallmouth in it usually, and is accessible for a person with 6 year old stature, i.e. a shallow riffle that’s easy to cross.  I used the 5wt and flies. He used his usual Zebco and selection of hardware, although he eventually got board with that and switched to throwing my wooden landing net at the minnows in the shallows. It  didn’t work too well, but wow, it was pretty entertaining to watch.

The smallmouth weren’t interested in coming out to play, but there were a BOAT load of suckers working this pool. Watching them I observed an interesting phenomenon I’d never witnessed before. At first, I started to see the flashes of their bellies in tail of the pool. I thought they were taking nymphs of some kind, as most of the suckers I catch are on small nymphs or midge larva while fishing for trout. But they wanted nothing to with small nymphs. So I eventually figured out that they were eating bait fish, but the most remarkable thing was HOW they taking them.

These suckers were actually cork- screwing their bodies through the water, turning over and over to take the little bait fish. Since Suckers are viewed as a by-catch trash fish in most places, I’ve not read a lot about their habits. This may be a common thing for them? Who knows?

But to me this was new, and fairly interesting.

We went home with the skunk removed by my little guy catching a creek chub on a tiny rooster tail. Out-fished by a 6 year old with a Zebco, I was. But it was good. Just being on the river with my son was enough to make for a perfect, albeit a bit warm, Sunday afternoon on the river.

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