May 23rd, 2004

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Baby Ducks and Fly Fishing
By Capt. Gary (Flats Dude) Henderson

After recently moving into the new home on Lake Angela, I've been witness to some pretty interesting sights and sounds. These sights and sounds aren't new to me, just constant. I'm simply around them more. I can now sit and observe things that I used to just notice while I was fishing. I can watch the herons stalk, the ospreys teach their young to hunt high above the lake and listen to the sounds of a million frogs sing in their strange harmony at nightfall.

I walked down to the edge of the lake the other day, fly rod in hand, and much to my delight, six baby mallards stood there looking up at me. Now, I've never had ducks, except with cornbread stuffing, but these guys were different. They are maybe six or seven months old, perhaps younger. They have all of their feathers and have full flight. But I can't tell if they are drakes or are hens, all are the same color.

I stood there for a while watching them as they watched me, and it seemed as if they had a questioning look in their eyes. I'm not sure what questions. Maybe, what's for breakfast? Or, who are you? Or, are you our daddy or mommy? I did have on some yellowish colored wading boots. They had no fear, so I gathered they were pretty tame, or just too young to care. I spoke to them as if they were human and they shook their tails and softly answered back in quiet, quacking sounds.

I noticed the fish had begun to smack the surface and I realized I was spending way too much time with these juvenile mallards. So, off I went stripping line from my reel, looking out into the grass beds for bluegill; baby ducks in tow. I would stop, they would stop. I would wade on; they paddled along at a safe distance, staying closer to the bank.

I ended up five hundred feet, or so, east of our backyard in waste-deep water enjoying a few smacks at the fly, yes, still talking to these darned ducks, and when I spoke, they seemed to stop what they were doing and look at me. A couple of them even began to chase each other and at one point I yelled, "Hey!", and they settled right down, just like my grandkids, I thought. One of the funniest things I've seen them do is go butt-up in the water, all at the same time. I guess they're chasing crawfish, or bugs, or something.

I've also noticed they ain't stupid! They have watched me cast, many times. They stay clear and never swim out in front of me and chase the fly as I thought they would. I've even started to watch my back-cast more times than not, so that I don't hook one of the little guys.

When darkness begins to replace the sunset, all seven of us head back to the house; the mallards following close behind, and whisper-quacking. As I close the wooden gate from the backyard to the lake; if it's not too dark, they all begin to quack loudly and fly off somewhere across to the other side. I turn and watch them; smile and wave, and they will wait 'til morning for me to take them fly-fishing, again. ~ Flats Dude


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