Monday, September 26, 2011

Skunked at the pond

Nasty muck
from last Monday morning, ~8am, on the way to work

I sit here, typing this on the train, filled with shame. I got skunked. Not by some new body of water, or a famously-fickle spot; at the old reliable retention pond. The same place I have caught so many largemouths I could wallpaper a small room with their pictures. 

And yet, I'm sharing what happened. This definitely counts as a misadventure.

After a lackluster fishing weekend - at least in terms of numbers - I decided to stop by the good ol' pond this morning for a confidence-booster. I put my collapsible rod in my backpack along with some tackle, and headed out on Claire's bike (mine is very broken).

I got to the pond, and opened up my backpack, ready to put the rod together. Here is where things started to go wrong. The rod breaks down to 5 pieces, 4 of which have guides on them. Often I'll break it down with the line still going through the guides, lure still attached. This makes it a quick process to get fishing when I only have a few minutes to wet a line. It also means there is one piece - the piece closest to the reel - that is NOT routed through the guides, and is easily forgotten. Trying to put my rod together, I realized it must be sitting somewhere on the garages floor, perhaps rolled under a box.

I stood there for a minute, starting to think about profanity, trying to decide if I should ride back home to get it. At this point I only had 45 minutes until my train, so I decided to stay there and try and use my rod.

The bottom piece didn't fit snugly into the handle, since of course I was missing the wider piece. I happened to have some rope in my backpack - not sure when I put that there - and I tied the rod piece to the handle. This effectively put them together, somewhat loosely, but it turned my 5'6" rod into a 4' rod.

Looked like a little kid's fishing rod. There should have been a Barbie or Mickey Mouse on it. Except for the weird rope everywhere; I guess it looked more like a pieced-together rod somebody found in the trash.

Unfazed, well maybe a little, I tied on a wacky rigged worm and started casting. The water was cold, the air was cold, and the water was high. At first I didn't see any activity, but upon closer inspection I noticed baitfish in a few places, and big wakes circling. I really don't think these wakes were carp, because every so often a bigger fish would come close to the surface in a splash, and the baitfish would freak out and disperse. I've seen my fair share of carps coming to the surface, and this wasn't them.

I waited, watching the wakes, and cast ahead of them. I let the worm fall, then would wiggle it back to me, doing my best impression of an injured fish.

All of the sudden, a fish grabs my worm, makes a run for it, and explodes out of the water, about a million little fish swimming away for their lives. Must have been at least a 12 incher LMB; but I'll never know. My silly little kids rod was strange, and I couldn't keep the tension.  It was weird fighting a fish on such a short rod. But at least I had a hookup!

I tightened the drag, removed the 3 pounds of weeds from the exposed hook, and recast.

I did this for the next 35 minutes; about halfway through I switched to my black fury. I had a few hits, but due to the strangeness of my setup, I didn't react quickly enough, and didn't set the hook. Missing that one piece of my rod made it feel like I was fishing with a pencil- it was very hard to feel what was going on in the water.

As I casted, I kept glancing at my phone, calculating how much time it would take me to ride to the station. At a certain point, I had to go or I would miss my train.

Defeated, I untied my rod-rope, took apart the rod, and zipped up my backpack. Pedaling to the Metra station, I plotted my revenge on the retention pond.

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