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An evening spent fishing on the lake

The lake at our place is a part of a flood-control project that protects the farmland downstream.

This means, whenever there is a heavy rain, rather than my neighbors cornfield flooding, my lake gets larger, cloudy, and the fishing is lousy for several days. If a person is to look at the big picture, saving someone's crop investment is more important than my fishing pleasure, but it still annoying to not be able to fish when we want to. It takes about three days after a heavy rain for the water level to return to normal and the fishing to start to pick up.

We have been blessed with plenty of rain this year. It seems we get a good downpour about every third day. Fishing trips to the farm have been few and far between. Last Friday, when I got home from work, I was thinking we should go out to eat. Before I could make the suggestion, my wife said, "It has not rained for almost four days. Let's go fishing."

I could not argue with that. One has to take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself.

The new, tall grass brushed the bottom of the truck as we drove down the hill toward the lake. Shadows from the tall oaks on the opposite hill were just beginning to touch the water as we launched the boat. The water was as calm as a sheet of glass. Humidity hung in the air and formed clouds on the water in the protected coves. I wanted to start fishing the downed trees near the middle for some crappies but my wife thought it would too hot and muggy. She wanted to go over by the island where we would soon be in the shade. Bass should be in the shallows waiting for a nice plastic grub. With a few years experience on my side, I have learned to follow my wife's advice. Right or wrong, women are always right.

We glided silently near the shore. A great blue heron that had been frogging just around the bend was startled into flight when we suddenly appeared a few feet away. Fishing was not great. Over the next hour, we each caught a couple of bass, but nothing big. It was just enough to keep us interested.

The temperature was dropping and the shadows were stretching out almost to the downed trees in the middle. I suggested we go try to find the crappie. Crappie tend to school. If a person starts catching them, the fishing can be fast and furious. I was sure that would be the case. I sure was wrong. We caught one bluegill and another small bass out of the best crappie cover on the lake.

I decided to go close to the nearest shore and see if we could tie into a few more bass before it got dark. We left our lines in the water as we motored quietly toward the shore. I looked up to see three deer coming down to the lake for a drink. It appeared to be a doe with her two fawns from last year. The one had bumps where his antlers soon would be. The big doe was pregnant to the point of bursting.

I switched off the motor and we continued toward the threesome in total silence. The old mother deer noticed us first. She did not recognize us as an imminent danger so she snorted and stomped her foot. Her almost-grown offspring looked around to see if they could figure out what was bothering their mother. The little doe did not like the looks of us. She spun and ran up the hill. Her mother and brother followed, not sure why, but that is how deer remain safe, by reacting without question.

We fished for a few more minutes with no more success, but content in having spent the time getting out on the water and enjoying what nature presented to us. We could go home satisfied with our evening out.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.