A prolonged summer bled right into winter last year, and it feels like winter is only now at the end of April beginning to show itself out. This past winter was a very rough one for me. I came to the realization that I just don’t have tolerance for cold weather anymore. I used to be ok if it was 30 below, as long as it wasn’t snowing. Now, though, I can’t stomach any of it. This past winter I got to experience my first panic attack (not recommended) and my first real taste of depression. Not the “I didn’t get the iPhone I wanted” type of depression, but the actual “I can’t possibly leave this bed” type of depression. The depression that always seemed so dramatic and silly when portrayed in movies and books. I found out it is real and it is horrifying.
But as I said, winter seems to finally be giving way to spring. I can drive with the windows open, I can stow away the snow shovel and the parka, and I can go fishing.
Today, the family went to a park in Crystal Lake, IL that has a fishing pond. I could find almost no info on it on the internet, so based on what I was able to glean from Google Maps and the USGS National Map, I figured it was a fairly typical pond and probably had bluegill, catfish and bass. So I packed 3 rods, brought all my gear and figured I’d choose my weapons after getting a look at the water. I disregarded the fishing pier. I like fishing around and under them, but not from them, for the most part. The shoreline east of the pier where the pond funnels into an outlet to a creek seemed promising while staring at it in my web browser, but that shoreline was elbows and assholes, and I’ve no patience for fighting over spots. So I headed along the west shoreline, looking for a break in the brittle, brown tall grass and bullrushes for a place where I would be able to cast.
First such location, a hundred feet or so from the pier, was a little cramped and the (presumably) high water level kept me pushed back to where I had to 3/4 sidearm cast under a tree and over a bullrush. Aside from a huge ruckus cause by what I am guessing is a spawning carp, I had no bites or nibbles. I had figured out, though, that there was a lot of vegetation where I was casting and the only bait I managed to throw and not bring salad back with it was a Texas rig.
I pressed on probably another 200 feet or so before I came to a drainage pipe. Over head trees would make casting kind of problematic, but the tall grass that had plagued my access was gone, so I decided to give it a whirl. As I bent over to drop my tacklebag, I noticed a sizable contingent of bluegill scatter in the water. I knew what to do. I tied on my 1/32 oz white and black feather jig and began “casting” out. Immediately the little guys were on the offensive, and I started pulling em in hand-over-fist.
There were even some crappie mixed in, and I’ve been getting pretty familiar with crappie so far this season, as between my local pond, this new pond and the Fox River I’ve probably landed 15-20 crappie and might not even be in double digits with any other species.
Clearly, these were, by no means, the biggest fish. There was absolutely nothing remarkable about them, save for the fact that I caught them. I walked until I found a spot that looked promising, found the fish there, and caught them. I never even picked up my heavier gear to cast for bass. I stayed there for an hour, getting my first sunburn of the year, catching and releasing beautiful, tiny fish, completely unburdened by the torrent of shitty, frightening things going on in our life at the moment. It was serene.
Welcome back, spring. Please stay a while.