Kayaker’s nearness to nature integral to fishing

This beauty of a bass just rounded out a day on the water for author Jeff Little. Jeff Little photo

This beauty of a bass just rounded out a day on the water for author Jeff Little. Jeff Little photo

Kayaking about more than the fish

By Jeff Little

Catching a pair of 20-inch-plus largemouth should have been the highlight of the day, but somehow wasn’t. Instead, the next day at work I was day dreaming about the peripheral elements of nature on the fishing expedition. There’s something that we miss out on in modern indoor employment that fishing, and especially kayak fishing, provides us. Two days ago, I received a healthy dose of it.

My buddy Brent and I started the day by launching in a creek that fed into the top end of a reservoir. He and I had been researching the location over the winter by doing Google Earth fly overs, knocking on doors to obtain permission to access the water and finding out what we could online about the fishery. One cove in particular looked especially productive as spawning habitat. It was loaded with old flooded trees, and included an obviously outlined road bed running through the area.

We cruised quickly through the shallow delta at the top of the reservoir and made a beeline for that cove. But a narrow pinch of land with a major set of trees fallen in on one of two bottlenecking points caught our attention first. I put a jig to the deep end of the laydown and was soon rewarded with a 4-pound, 14-ounce largemouth erupting through the surface and shaking it’s gills while it tried to shake my jig.

Research paid off in a couple big bass and a great day in nature. Jeff Little photo

Research paid off in a couple big bass and a great day in nature. Jeff Little photo

Brent paddled over and took photos and the fish was released. But when a buddy at work asked what I had caught, I talked about the bass for about 20 seconds, then went on for the next five minutes to describe a turkey that I had watched that morning. I even filmed the massive Tom as filler footage for the video I was producing on spring largemouth patterns.

When I first caught a glimpse of the bird, it was motionless. The animal was so large and so brightly colored that I assumed that it was one of those foam animal targets that bowhunters use to practice their kill shot. The tail feathers were fanned out in a circle much larger that a stop sign. The colors were bright red, orange, black and white.

When the huge and majestic bird finally did move off the log it was perched upon, I was in disbelief. "It’s real!" I whispered under my breath. I had seen turkeys before, but this one wasn’t scurrying away from me. It was looking out across the lake, staring me down as if to say, "Who told you that you could fish on my lake!" I went 20 minutes without a cast, just watching it.

In the next five minutes he was joined by 4 hens. Brent came over to watch too. Later in the day I watched another 6 turkeys glide across a wider section of the reservoir. I saw deer scamper away on a ridge above me when I made an errant cast and snapped a shoreline stick. A thunderstorm passed through and I could see the sheets of dark rain approach from a mile out before they drenched me and knocked countless cherry blossoms into the water. I smelled the fruity aroma of some sort of springtime foliage bursting out of their buds. I listened to a pair of kingfishers wage a territorial war with each other.

Today at work I listened to the hum of florescent light tubes overhead. I saw no shifting of light to indicate a cold front passing through. The territorial dispute I listened to was amongst coworkers, not brilliant blue, white and black birds that can plummet into the water to extract a piscatorial meal. I burned fewer calories than the day on the reservoir, yet ended the day somehow more worn down than the day that I paddled several miles and dragged a kayak and gear a considerable distance over land.

Sure, people joke about the guy who posts a photo of the sunset on his Facebook page at the end of a day when he had no photos of big fish to post. But I’ve got those big fish photos. I kind of wish that I had a photo of that turkey.

Editor’s note: see more from Jeff Little with a subscription to Tight Line Junkie Journal.