We had fished a few hours in the late afternoon.  I had a couple of bumps that I wasn’t sure of.  Were they fish strikes or was my fly just ticking across the rocky bottom?  They were probably fish but it didn’t matter.  They were off and gone before I could say, “Huh?”  I do that a lot on soft strikes.  I did have one good strike that was “Fish On!”.  I was using a fly rod from my kayak and I was concerned that loose line would tangle on everyplace it could possibly tangle and then catch on something if I let the fish run.  I tried to get the fish on the reel so I wouldn’t have all that loose line.  That was a mistake.  He was gone.  It was a good fish as all lost fish are.

Later, I figured out that the clouser minnow flies I had tied the day before smelled funny.  I had used some quick-drying nail polish for head cement.  I let them dry overnight and put them in a sealed plastic container to keep handy.  The fly I had used all afternoon came out of that container.   They needed to dry longer.  Later in the day, when I was changing flies, I got a good whiff of the vapor inside that container.  You could get high breathing too much of that.  I switched to a fly that had never been in that container.

My fishing partner Kim Schultz, unbeknownst to me, was catching lots of blue gill (eat your heart out Bill Blondeau, another friend who prefers blue gill to other fish.  Go figure!).  He had also caught a hybrid bass but it’s not that kind of bass season.  He released it.  Since he hadn’t seen much sign of white bass, he was secretly hoping for a walleye.

Fly fishing from a kayak needs a lot of finesse.  You’re sitting close to the water and it takes some control to keep the fly out of the water on both the forward and back casts.  Don’t turn to see what the back cast is doing or you could end up in the water.  You can also end up with some horrible tangles of line around your rod tip.

The day was late, the sun was low, and then it was gone.  I paddled down to where I would be a little closer to the truck.  Sometimes white bass bite at night.  We were pretty sure the whiteys weren’t that far up the creek.  The water was a little too cold for the shad as a cold front had come through.  No shad, no white bass.  We were going to fish a while longer.  What the heck, we could catch something else, a walleye maybe.       The moon was up before the light faded.  It was nearly full … not quite.  Jupiter was a bright dot just to the left of the moon.  As the sky grew darker, Orion was in the south.  It’s my favorite constellation.  How can you not like a constellation that has a star named Betelgeuse?   The soft breeze eventually blew my kayak around so that I was facing in the other direction.  There was Ursa Major.  I can never see the bear but I can always see the dipper.  That led me to Polaris, the north star.  The night sky was beautiful.  I am always dazzled by the fact that the shapes of the constellations change over time and perspective.  They don’t look the same as they did thousands of years ago or will thousands of years in the future.  They don’t look the same from Mars as they do from Earth.  They aren’t painted on some dome shaped canvas as our ancestors imagined.  Those stars aren’t even close to each other!  When perceived in three dimensions, they are nothing like the familiar shapes we are taught to imagine.

I could barely make out the figure of a shoreline fisherman.  Then I heard some splashing as he fought his fish to the shore.  He netted it.  I called out to him.  “Is it a white bass?”  “No, it’s a walleye!  First one I have ever caught!” he excitedly answered from somewhere in the moonlight.   Did he catch the walleye or did it catch him?  It doesn’t matter.  He’s hooked for life and the walleye was on his stringer.

I looked around and realized that I couldn’t see my fishing buddy.  His kayak could have been that log over there that I had seen earlier, or that log over there could have been my fishing buddy.  He was somewhere over there when I last saw him.  I wasn’t sure.  Even with a few splashes I wasn’t sure.  I finally called out, “Kim, where are you?”   He answered.  Turns out I was right: the log was his kayak.  Visually it’s confusing in such low light.

Moonlight danced across the water.  The breeze moved the surface so that it wasn’t exactly a mirror image.  So be it.  I was floating in a dark liquid below a dark sky, punctuated by dots of light.  I could have been anywhere in the universe.  For a moment I wasn’t sure where I was.

“FISH ON!”, I yelled as I regained my senses and my rightful place in the universe.  I didn’t make the same mistake that I did earlier.  I didn’t even try to put the line on the reel.  I played it with line off to the side.  It seemed to me that my fish pulled the kayak around the creek.  That may have just been my imagination.  I heard a familiar voice across the water telling me that it was probably a walleye.  I never saw that fish in the water, I only saw moonlight splashing as it surfaced.  I netted it and brought it on-board the kayak.  Finally, in the moonlight, I saw the shine and shape of a white bass.

All of my stories are true even if they sound better after writing and rewriting them a few times or a few shots of whiskey.  They are, after all, “Adventures!!!”