Welcome to Panfish

Part Fourteen


"Hot Times On The Ol' River Bank"
By Randy Fratzke

Mid July in the Midwest can be pretty miserable.  Yesterday was one of those days.  It was 97 degrees, 88% humidity, not even a hint of a breeze.  I was working indoors, building the bedroom cabinets at the cabin (no, it's still not done, but getting closer!) and the air conditioner was working overtime, trying to keep up.  By 3:30, I was exhausted and needed a break so I poured myself a huge thermos of ice tea, grabbed my fly rod and vest and opened the door.... whew, it was hot!

All I wanted to do was to find a little shade down by the river and cast a bit.  Maybe catch a couple of blue gills or crappie for supper.  Anything but cut another piece of wood for a while!  I found a little relief under a maple tree over hanging the bank.  There's a little eddy right there with a natural spring outlet that drains into the river.  I've nearly always been able to catch something there, especially on warm days because of the cool water entering the river and the eddy and it's an area that's about 9 feet deep.

I cast my line wide, loaded with a small popper and let it come down stream, casually stripping it into the position for the area I wanted it to cross. Strip, strip, strip, nada...it floated on down stream.  I slowly stripped it against the current back through the water.  I kept thinking I heard laughter and giggles coming from upstream at the beach area.  I looked towards the beach, about 200 yards upstream and didn't see anyone. "Nah, too hot for anyone to be out on a beach.  I must be imagining things."  I cast again, and definitely heard a woman's giggle, then a man's deep, mischievous laugh.  I looked up towards the beach and a couple were quickly crossing the sand from the tall brush to the water, stark naked.

Suddenly I was wishing for a pair of binoculars instead of the fishing rod that was in my hand.  Ok, they were in the water, I was fishing. They were messing around, I was fishing.  They were having, what appeared to be, one heck of a good time, I was sweating underneath a shade tree.  I guess all are not all dead yet dead, especially since I recognized the couple as neighbors in their mid fifties.  Suddenly the woman noticed me standing there by the stream and yelled "Catching anything, Randy?"  Her husband added, "other than flies in your gaping mouth...."  Busted...on both sides!

About then something pulled on my arm, the rod!  I'd almost forgot that I was fishing.  I felt the reel spitting out line and braked it with my palm.  A small bass shot out of the water, doing a colorful tail stand.  I brought him in and heard the couple applauding my accomplishment.  Talk about feeling weird!  Standing on a river bank with a bass in my hand and a couple of grey haired  nudists clapping their hands.  I gently lowered the bass back into the water and let it go.  At that point, the only thing I could think to do was politely bow to my "audience".  I then gathered up my vest and walked back up to the cabin.  I just figured it had to be the heat....

~ Randy Fratzke

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