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Grasshoppers clung upside down on the leaves of grass swinging out and over the trail leading down into the creek bottom where, my best friend, Gary and I planned to fish. Their jaws seemed to be chewing in several different directions at once as they munched heartily on the green leaves of the tall swaying grass. The edge of the tree line was beaming with thick bunches of white flowering Queen Anne's lace standing high and proud, that would soon sadly turn into one of the biggest nuisance in nature's autumn, by literally covering a shirt sleeve or pant leg with its sticking barbed seeds when one happened by and brushed it.
We had discovered a "goggle eye" hot spot while fishing here the previous year and had planned to revisit it. Green mosses covered the big rocks on the creek floor that provided suitable cover for big red eyed bass known as "goggle eye". There they lay in waiting for unsuspecting prey to happen by and then striking out with lightening speed to capture and devour it. Those rocks and crevices is where my partner and I planned to jiggle our tiny spinner lures down into and watch for the swift strike of the red eyed hermits. They rarely grew to more than eight or nine inches in length, but are ferocious when hooked putting up a mighty fight and are most delicious pan fried.
As we neared the creek we noticed a ‘crow congress' had gathered in the peak of a tall oak tree standing alone on a nearby hill. The squawking and cawing by the unruly flock of black pirates could be heard for miles into the valley. ‘Crow mayor', perched in the very top seemed to be clicking off daily tasks for his subjects.
Cloud cover began facing the sun, improving the chance of excellent fishing as goggle eye seemed to shy away from bright sun rays, slinking deeper into their lair. We stopped near the creek bank to perform a final check of our tackle and discuss the plan of attack. Gary is left handed and I right, so the most sensible strategy seemed to be for me to fish the left side and he the right while wading upstream, making casts close to the bank more precise and productive.
We stepped off the low bank into the cool creek water and began making our way up
Stream, wading against the currents and around deep blue pools.
A blue heron blasted its non-musical squawk as it suddenly raised great wings and took to flight, only to settle down a short distance from the departure point and resume its spear fishing. The sharp drawn out clicking chatter of a pair of bright blue and white king fisher filled the air as they sailed from tree limb to tree limb between dives into the water with a minnow's tail usually protruding from between its beak as it took to wing again. A pair of wood ducks kept at a safe distance upstream paddling along and feeding in the shallows.
Gary and I had learned years earlier that wading on slick rocks was a dangerous bet and had since began gluing traced out pieces of thick felt to the bottoms of our sneakers that would grip the slick limestone bottoms. Slipping and loosing one's footing in and around those big boulders is not fun and could easily result in broken bones or a flushed face.
As we lay back on our backs resting on one grassy spot, the strong smell of honey drifted to my nose and as I look up at a huge oak I could see honey bees busy coming and going from a hole in the side of the tree. The hole was a rotted out limb base and the bees had adopted the hollowed out center for their hive. Dark honey and pollen wax had dripped down the side of the tree and was giving off a powerful scent of honey.
The geography of our expedition lies in the foothills of the Appalachian chain and is mostly woodland with dogwood, hickory, oak, and several other species of hardwoods. Early summer color is brilliant from the wild foliage clinging to the sides of the bluffs and overhangs making a trip up one of many creeks in the area a double pleasure for sight and smell. Grumpy bullfrogs bellowed and cattails stood at attention in small marshes near the confluences of small springs and wet weather ditches cut deep into the bank along the streams edge from generations of bountiful rainfall. Silt in the eddy areas sometime made wading difficult and occasionally when one stepped out of the silt and submerged leaves small leaches would cling to skin that had been exposed. A buck knife would do the trick, just press the blade flat onto the skin surface and shave them off. Muskrats lived in the same areas and their presence was known by the slick trails running through the vegetation they had made dragging and pushing tender greens shoots of preferred food items to their nests. One could occasionally be seen paddle swimming along the mud banks with its tail streaming behind pushing his cargo of goods in front not unlike a tugboat.
One or two anglers usually plan a creek-fishing trip. They park one pickup at the take out site, then, both anglers ride to the next bridge downstream where they abandon the second pickup and step in the creek. They fish upstream wading for several hours and eventually return to the initial vehicle. Here they will crawl out of the creek up the bank dragging their catch, usually through bull needles that sting like white phosphorous. They toss their catch into the first pickup, still on the cotton stringers used to muffle sound. By this time both are boasting that they would pay, at that very moment, exorbitant amounts of money for a cold brew.
They land in the first angler's pickup and drive back downstream to retrieve the other pickup with fish flopping around in the truck bed. By this time both anglers will overwhelmingly vote unanimously to head for the nearest pub for a frosty brew where one will follow the other. They pop into the beer joint and sit for a great while telling tales and lies about the catch until the fish spoil in the hot sun and green flies dominate. The end