I now have a chauffeur. It's an extravagant expense but I'm worth it. My eldest son got his driver's license last summer and now drives whenever we share the car. It's a nice break after more than a decade of being his chauffeur and it gives him time behind the wheel to hone his craft. Before long Sam will be taking his turn at the wheel and I'll be doing even more gazing at the countryside as it slides by.
Coming home from church last Sunday, I told Chris to stray from the usual route. Sam knew where we were going and before long Chris, a reluctant angler, let out a groan. He pulled the car over as instructed when we got to the pond.
Most of the farms in town long ago yielded to development but dotted across the landscape are the little ponds that once served them. These former sources of irrigation now serve little purpose beyond being the home to resident geese. And a medley of swimming creatures.
This particular spot is a bluegill pond. Sam and I keep an eye on it every spring as the ice clears. While water temperature is the best predictor for the emergence of every variety of aquatic species, we prefer to skulk around the edges looking for the redds and fish fleeing into cover. These first indicators of the spawn will mean that the fish are aggressive and feeding actively. It's the perfect way to start the season.
That evening we returned to the pond. Our routine, a remnant of the time when I cast for him, is to share a rod. We tie on whatever happens to be stuck on my lanyard and cast into the evening water. The bluegills are not choosy and for the next twenty casts it's a fish every time. As one of us reels in, the other unhooks and releases. Then we swap places for the next cast.
Before long we've fished out the spot. The large fish came on the early casts and then the fish got progressively smaller. We moved to longer casts trying to fish the swirls that seemed just out of reach. Our effort yielded less bounty and we hooked bank-side vegetation and lost flies. But still we cast. Soon it’s every fifth cast that gets a fish and our interest began to wane. We had come for easy sport.
As Sam unhooked what was likely to be our last fish a gentleman stopped by to ask how the fishing was going. He mentioned that his son had hooked a bass that day. This pond also plays host to a small population of largemouth. You'll catch them every so often but they're not the main attraction; stunted sunfish on a light rod are the ticket.
As Sam made his next cast, pressing his luck in the waning light, the man went on to tell me about the trout in the pond. It was one of those moments when your brain inserts the sound of a record needle tearing across vinyl. Trout, you say? Sure, he says, saw a guy here last year with a couple in a bucket.
Now I've no doubt this pond is spring fed. Even in the driest of seasons it has enough water to keep the fishing good as long as you have a weed guard on the hook. But trout?
Now I'm imagining some deep pocket where cool water seeps through eons of accumulated muck and trout, perhaps native brookies or transplanted rainbows, fin slowly waiting for the evening when they'll rise to sip midges from the ebony surface. I'll be returning to the pond tomorrow evening and will consider my fly selection more keenly than I have in the past.