Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

From the front of the boat

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I saw this one before the cast, from the front of the boat.

The freshly budded and slightly leafing willow branch falls just inches short of touching the water. I can see the gap from the front of the boat. Through the Polaroid lenses of my glasses, I can also see the fish finning slowly under the willow branch. I see her from the front of the boat.

The lightweight jerk bait is hard to cast. It will be hard to hit the gap from the front of the boat. Mostly the cast will depend on luck. I lean out and cast sidearm. The silver bait glints in the sun as it flies toward the narrow gap. I watch it from the front of the boat. I see it as the wind riffles the water slightly and sends the bait four inches high. The back hooks hang in the willow branch. I see it from the front of the boat. From the back of the boat comes my partner’s chuckle.

They are very young, just starting to turn brown with still plenty of yellow. I count them, six, seven, eight. I guess they are tame ducks from the nearby boat dock. They swim following mama, just past the front of the boat.

They should be glad there are no muskies in this lake and they’d better watch out for big bass. That’s just what I am doing from the front of the boat.

The sun is starting to top the ridge, not yet high enough to warm us much. I watch it from the front of the boat. The boat shakes and I recognize the feel of a hook being set. My partner is into a good one. The rod bends, silhouetted against the rising sun. I see it from the front of the boat. It is a largemouth, a good one. My partner admires her, the lure still in her jaw. The sun highlights them both. I see it from the front of the boat. Then, I too set the hook.

The hills, some high, some not so high, stretch out from the front of the boat and their reflection in the mirror-flat water provides an identical image. I lean back in the chair and admire the hues, especially the redbuds and the dogwoods. In the watery reflection, they touch the front of the boat.

From the front of the boat, I can see the jump coming. I’m helpless. There is nothing I can do to keep the fish in the water. The four pounds of bronzed smallmouth rocket into the air.

From the front of the boat, I see the water droplets frozen in midair. The sun shines through them and they become tiny prisms, split down the middle by the small jig and twister.

From the front of the boat, I see it coming, airborne and free of the smallmouth’s jaw. I know it won’t hit me but from the front of the boat, I can’t be sure so I duck anyway. It plunks into the clear water and begins to sink. I watch it from the front of the boat.

Silent laughter shakes the boat. It is coming from my partner in the back.

Somewhere on a ridge behind the hollow, a gobbler sounds off. I cannot be sure of exactly where he is. I sit quietly in the front of the boat and listen. He does not repeat his challenge but the crows that brought it on are having a ball. I can hear them causing a ruckus; probably they found an owl to torment. Crows remind me a little of young kids on a playground. I hit the trolling motor and watch for large, submerged rocks. I can see them from the front of the boat.

She comes first, the young doe. Behind her is the older doe. I can see them from the front of the boat. They are not coming to drink from the lake, just taking a look. Maybe they’ll browse a little on the new green growth along the shore. Soon, they will be ready to drop fawns. I hope they stay a while.

Just up the bank are two raccoons. They are heading home from a night of pure raccoonery. They are not in so big a hurry they can’t stop to preen and look at their reflections in the water-mirror. They also have time to play a little with a loose stone. I see them from the front of the boat.

It has been a nice morning sitting in the front of the boat. I saw a lot. I even caught a couple bass, as my partner did.

This afternoon just before sundown, I’ll be in the front of the boat again, casting and describing what I see. There is a lot to see from the front of the boat.

Contact John L. Sloan at -- jsloan1944@gmail.com

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