- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 1, 2006

A friend recently granted me permission to fish in his family’s farm pond, so I wasted no time visiting the glistening jewel that, as pond anglers like to describe such things, is two casts wide and five casts long.

With morning temperatures hovering in the 50s, a bit of a fog hovering only over the water, I arrived just in time to watch a large raccoon scamper up the pond’s earthen dam. That was followed by the honks of one Canada goose that swam about in a corner of the little impoundment. Suddenly, there were answers from other geese overhead and before I’d finished rigging a plastic worm to one of three fishing rods, four Canadas descended through the fog and landed with audible splashes.

They noisily greeted the lone bird, but for some reason began to squabble with it and soon swam away, ignoring it. It was plain as spring water that they wanted nothing to do with their previously beckoning cousin. Did they know this goose? Was she (or he) a pain in the tailfeathers and they couldn’t stand being near it? The incident will remain a mystery.

I began to cast a 1/4-ounce lipless rattle-bait and on the first retrieve hooked something that wildly objected to being attached to the lure. It was a large red-breasted sunfish. How in the world that critter wrapped its gums around a treble hook that was twice as wide as its puckered mouth I’ll never know. But who can’t recall catching critters on lures that certainly were not intended for them.

(My friend Dick Fox hooked a beaver with a Rat-L-Trap lure not long ago; I, too, snagged a beaver some years back using a Mepps spinner. Luckily, both beavers were able to shake off the lures that became stuck in their fur. I’ve caught bluegills and yellow perch on plastic worms that were longer than the fish. In fact, I’d like to have a crisp $10 bill for every channel catfish and carp I’ve caught on bass lures.)

Meanwhile, back at the pond, a largemouth bass looked at my rattle bait and slammed into it. There was no guessing about how it was able to snatch up the offering that looked like a tiny, crippled bluegill. The mouth of the bass was big enough to hide a soda can.

Within the next 10 casts I latched onto three more bass and a large crappie that popped free just as I tried to lift it from the water.

All this while a vegetable stand across the road from me was selling pumpkins, tomatoes and fall flowers.

All this as gentle autumn breezes blew across already harvested corn and tobacco fields. Only the soybeans remained on various adjacent farms.

And all this made me feel wonderful and hopeful about the days and weeks ahead — the fishing, the hunting and simply enjoying rural surroundings in a place free of the kind of worries so many people on this planet currently experience.

I have much to be thankful for.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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