Memorial Day being a half-day at work for us
newspaper people, I didn't get to head out for
a little line-throwing until evening.
After putting out the day's paper, my gal and I
decided to head for New Iberia, La., for lunch
and a movie. The lunch was a buffet, and I
succeeded in causing myself severe distress
with repeated trips to the desserts. The movie
was "Shrek 2" and that helped me feel a little
After a much-needed nap, it was a couple hours
before dark so I loaded a couple rods into my
tackle backpack and drove over to the pond I
frequented all last year alone. Since this spring,
as reported earlier, I have been dismayed to find
that the maroons have taken it over. I still go
there though, stubbornly refusing to let the
Philistines completely kick me out of what was
my private sanctuary.
There was no one around this particular evening,
as I had hoped. The maroons, I believed, were
recovering from barbecue and beer. I had brought
an eight-foot four-weight I just picked up used,
a great little rod. Since the sun was still bright
and a little wind kicking, I chose to start things
off with a Jitterbee under a VOSI.
I don't know the geographical extent of the VOSI
in the fly fishing world, but it is quite common
in Louisiana. VOSI stands for "Vertically Oriented
Strike Indicator" and, simply put, is a very small
oblong perch cork cut in half. As one of the premiere
fly anglers in our area, Catch Cormier, noted, no
self-respecting fly fisherman would be caught dead
using a perch float, thus "VOSI." It works very well.
All last year when I fished this pond, I caught not
a single bream. From April to December when winter
finally caught up with me, I caught oodles of small
bass, a lot of medium bass, and a handful of lunkers.
Since being overrun by the maroons, I have been
catching quite a few bream, very large ones now
and then, and lots of small ones. I am sure that
this means the maroons have reduced the population
of large predatory fish in the pond.
The Jitterbee/VOSI resulted in a few nice bream
and a decent bass. There were dark thunderclouds
rolling in, but no rain, and when the sky turned
overcast, I switched to a popper, my trusty
When a car pulled upon the nearby road, I knew
the tranquility was over. I recognized the car.
It had been here several times before.
Out hopped a younger man and his wife or girl,
carrying baitcasting rods. Also out of the car
I don't know what breed Sugar is, but she's a
medium-sized tan dog with the energy of a tornado
and the hearing of a rock. While I was working a
stand of willows off-center of the pond, the couple
started working their baitcasters along the north
bank, fanning out and shouting at each other from
fifty yards apart.
And Sugar began to play.
Sugar leaped over their lines if they dropped their
rod tips too low. Sugar raced through the tall grass
like a maniacal Greyhound with faltering directional
skills for now and then she'd barrel into their legs.
"Sugar!" the young man would yell, teetering for
balance. "Calm your butt down!"
Sugar does not understand these things. When told
to calm down, Sugar leaps into the pond. At some
point in her life, Sugar learned to associate the
words "calm down" with jumping into the pond, and
shows her only true obedience in life by doing so
at once, usually right in front of the young lady,
who gets soaked and commences to fussing.
The couple tends to work the bank like they are
running a marathon. Casting and walking, casting
and walking, displaying the time-honored wisdom
that if there isn't a bite on one cast within a
twenty-foot stretch of bank, there ain't no fish
there. I try to keep the patch of willows positioned
between us, so they can't see the fish I'm taking,
but at that pace it's fruitless.
At last they near the corner of the pond, and Sugar
takes notice of me. It is as I feared. Shooting off,
belly low, Sugar gallops for me, tongue flapping,
while her master is yelling, "Sugar! Come back
here! Sugar!" and I am praying he does not say
the words "calm down."
They work their way completely around the pond
three times this way, casting once every twenty
feet, yelling at Sugar, yelling at each other,
catching the occasional small bass, and hollering
at me from one hundred and fifty yards, "Sure ain't
biting today, huh?"
By and by, a buddy of theirs pulls up on a four-wheeler
and, being a pal and all, tries to distract Sugar by
racing around the pasture near the pond so that Sugar
will chase him. He soon tires of this, of course, and
goes back to chat with his friends.
Now, every time they make one cast and move twenty feet,
with Sugar bounding into the pond with a colossal splash
if she even hears the man tell the girl "Keep you rod
tip down," because she thought she heard "calm down,"
there is also the sound of the four-wheeler cranking
up and moving twenty feet, then shutting off, and
discussions about football, work, family, friends
and the fact that the fishing sure sucks here.
Tiring of my spot behind the willows and feeling
cocky, I move behind the other anglers a respectable
distance to fish the south side of the pond. Sugar
bounds around me, tangling in my legs, nipping at
the butt of my rod. The young man is yelling, "Sugar,
Sugar, SUGAR-SUGAR-SUGAR!" and Sugar hears naught.
So to be helpful, I shout, "Sugar, calm down!" and
Sugar immediately leaps into the pond, drenching
the young woman, who then yells, "SUGAR!" At which
point Sugar rockets toward me again, and begins a
tango with my legs, causing me to accidentally
step on her toe. She yelps and runs off, pouting.
After their fifth circumference of the pond, they
load up and leave, yelling at Sugar all the way to
the car. I have caught about eighteen fish, they
have caught two. I hear, "We'll try tomorrow, maybe
they'll be biting then." And off they go, Sugar's
head out the back window, yelping at me in farewell.
It's nearly dark, and I pull a few more fish out
of the pond, avoiding the murky, muddy areas where
Sugar calmed down. Just as it is getting too dark
to see the Spook or a strike, the silence is absolute,
the sky tranquil. For just a split second, in the
complete stillness, I find myself missing Sugar.
Then I get my flask out of my tackle bag and take
a good stiff belt to regain my senses. ~ Roger