Different approaches, different outcomes

Apr. 29, 2013 @ 08:33 PM

It is not as much a walk as it is a shuffle, and this is how he moves down the bank.
He is not as old as the trees around him, and he doesn’t hear the birds above him as he once did.
He shuffles; he pauses. His breath sometimes is too quick, his knees too tight and the fishing pole and bucket are heavier now.
This path from his house to the cove on the lake is familiar. He fishes beside the water, sitting and watching the water. He looks to the clouds, the tree line and though he cannot hear the birds, he sees them.
He has caught fish here and knows where and when they hide. He is retired. He saves his money, eating canned tuna with salted crackers while sipping half-sweet, half-unsweetened tea from a jar.
He sit on his bucket, baiting from the carton on the ground before casting into the water of this suspiciously quiet cove.
He watches, waits and notices. The ripples in the cove grow, and he sees the boat approach.
On the bow of his boat, the young angler efficiently works the structure. He took vacation time today, for the wind is light and the sky is blue. He is in his late 30s, his knees are not sore and he ran five miles this morning.
His boat is sleek and silent, and he stands to cast, adjusting his visor and glasses often. He hears the birds and knows the underwater ledge, and he drinks cold water from a plastic bottle.
He studies the bank, casts along the edge and leans back, missing a strike. He casts. He changes rods and casts again. Right to left. Slowly, the boat follows the outline of the opposite side.
They watch each other.
From the bank, there is tension and drag as the crappie fish resists, then is pulled to the bank. The man in the boat sees the catch and casts farther until every part of the far bank is fished.
From the bank, another bite, another fish and another single cast into the water. At the end of the cove, he turns the boat. He has had one strike, no fish and for a moment, he thinks of leaving this cove for other places.
While changing his lure again, he looks up to see the man on the bank and the splash of water from another fish. The man sits on his bucket. A lure sails forward, and the boat turns to fish the near bank.
It is quiet here. There is an occasional breath of wind, the birds are with tune and the afternoon sky is soft and blue.
The boat is closer now. The pole in the man’s lap bends and another crappie is coated with mud.
“You are having a good day,” the man in the boat said.
The old man clears his throat and says, “Thank you.” He pauses before saying, “Nice boat.”
The boat is only a few yards from where the old man sits, and small talk becomes life talk as the anglers converse. They talk of fishing, the weather and this cove.
The man on the bank points to where the trail up the hill leads to his house and talks of how quiet the boat is across flaccid water.
They talk about fish, problems of the world are addressed and he asks him about the way he fishes.
“I cast all along this bank, and I only had one strike,” the man said from the boat.
The man on the bank looks to the water, then to his single pole.
“When I was about your age, I could run without my knees hurting,” he said. “I complained and ate those pills to make the pain go away, but in the end, I used the stiffness in my knees to fish.”
The man in the boat looked at the bucket, the man, his fishing pole and the crappie fish scattered about.
He accepted the invitation to shake hands with this man on the bank. He sat on his cooler and only brought the one pole from the boat.
From his bucket, the old man reached inside the carton and handed the man some bait. Two lines entered the water, and they sat and watched.
A few fish were caught, and they watched the sun escape the sky.
From his boat, he watched the old man shuffle up the hill. A few days later, as they agreed, the man from the boat followed the man from the bucket down the hill from his house. And on the bank of a cove, they fished.
Enjoy your time outdoors.

You may contact Jason Hawkins at hawkinsoutdoors@msn.com.