(From Greg Hoover)
In a previous article I pointed out that someone – such as myself – could be “avid” without being competent. I offered a bit of proof, but in case you still are not convinced, I present further evidence.
Keith Oakes and I were night fishing on a river full of big, brown trout, creatures that are notoriously nocturnal. We heard a couple of splashes in the river in front of us, which might have been mice, muskrats, or beavers, or it might have been a trout feeding on a mayfly, so we immediately began casting toward the sounds. Casting a fly is very different from casting a lure with spinning gear. When you cast with a fly rod you typically keep the fly line and fly in the air for several casts as you let out more line, then after 3 or 4 of these “false casts” you let the line go as the fly whips and then floats down to the water’s surface. It’s during these false casts that you are likely to get your fly and line caught in bushes or branches behind you. That’s not at all unusual on wooded rivers.
|AuSable River: Waiting for the sun to set|
|Midnight on the AuSable River, Grayling, Michigan|
On one of my false casts I felt my line get caught on something, and I knew I had managed to get hung up on the willow bushes behind me. Then I decided that it must be the end of a long limb because as I tugged gently on the line it wasn’t just stuck, it was jumping around, pulling back. But even that didn’t seem quite right. There was a random sort of tugging to it, sort of a big, wobbling pull. Just as the awkwardness of it was starting to register in my brain, my line took off in a circle around me. Once, twice. I had caught a bat, and it was flying in one direction, which meant that it was wrapping itself around me, which of course meant that it was getting closer to me, like a game of tether ball where the rope wraps around the pole until there’s no loose rope left to wrap.
Well, that’s exactly what the bat did, until it ended up somewhere on my back, squealing and thrashing. Now, I say it was “somewhere on my back,” meaning that it was actually on my back, tangled up in my fishing net which was hanging from my fishing vest, but I didn’t know that at the time because it was dark, and I couldn’t see a thing. He might have been on my hat, or under my arm, or on my chest, etc. etc. And of course, all I could think about was sharp teeth, rabies, and Dracula. The fact that it was dark merely added another level of anxiety and confusion. So I tried to get my vest off, but I had to reach around to the clips on the side to get it off, and for all I knew that’s where the bat was. The squealing and thrashing continued, while I wiggled out of the vest and unwrapped the line from around me. When I finally got the vest off and threw it on the river bank, the bat was gone.
I heard a small splash nearby, so I shined my flashlight downstream and saw the bat on the surface of the water, still kicking, but floating downstream with the current. The Bat Incident was over, and I had survived. The bat, apparently, would not. But let the record show that I had him in my net for a few seconds. I’m sure a few other fly fishermen have hooked a bat, although probably not a lot, since not a lot of guys fly fish at night. But how many of them can say they got the bat to their net and then safely released him as all genteel fly fishermen do? And if he died somewhere downstream, it’s not my fault bats can’t swim.
Keith finally made his way over to me about the time the bat was disappearing downstream. “What’s going on down here? It sounded like a wrestling match. I thought you caught a huge fish, but then everything went silent.”
“Not a fish. A bat.”
“Really? A bat? So that explains all the squealing and crying.”
“Yeah,” I said, “and I think the bat was scared, too.”
So, confine your fishing to fish if you want to. Not me. I’m expanding my quarry. I’m fishing for mammals. Winged mammals. Catch and release only. It’s a sport only a truly avid outdoorsman could appreciate.
|Every now and then I catch a fish instead of a bat|