Old Man Winter and the 4 Hopes of Fishing: Part 1

My most recent reawakening to fishing struck me sometime in December of 2009.  Unfortunately, December is not the most welcoming month of the year to fish unless you live in the Deep South.  Other than some stocked trout in a couple of rivers and small lakes, most of the game fish ain’t really bitin’ in middle Tennessee in the winter.

With Old Man Winter sitting stubbornly and grumpily above the Nashville skyline, I sat in the back of a Ford Econo-line passenger van (yet another preferred vehicle of many musicians I know) with a hopeful and sly grin on my face as I travelled I-65 South toward Jackson, Mississippi to begin a winter tour with Matthew Smith along the considerably warmer Gulf shore. Matthew is a good friend who delights in Ryan Adams, old hymns set to new tunes, I-phone apps and his band-members pursuing their hobbies and interests on the road (as long as we are not late to the gig or need bail money). Bassist Adam Keefer likes to pursue photography, bassist-guitarist-pianist John Davis enjoys skating in local skate parks and parking lots, and I like to fish. Matthew believes that a happy, well-rounded band is a rockin’ band.

I had packed 2 rods and reels and a small tackle box in the back of the van and had a folder full of Google maps in my tour-book.  I had a pretty good shot at some “road fishing” on this run and I was looking forward to escaping to milder climes. After a couple of days of gigs around Jackson, we arrived at the home of Heber Ethridge Jr., father of Matthew’s beloved drummer and mo-ped enthusiast Heber Ethridge the Third (or Tripp, as many in Nashville know him). Tripp had mentioned that his grandfather, Heber Sr. had a nice little pond in his front yard and that we were welcome to come and fish it.  So, with some free time in hand, off we went.

Though it was mid-January, the temp was probably about 65 degrees and the sky was a bit overcast. Upon arriving at Heber Sr.’s estate, I took note that the water in the pond was relatively clear with just a shade of murk. The variables appeared favorable for a good morning of fishing.

I started with a Zoom 7” u-tail plastic worm rigged Texas-style. I went with the chartreuse pumpkinseed because I have typically had good luck with that color in farm ponds, and this pond was no exception. Upon casting toward a submerged tree-limb, I felt that old familiar tug that releases endorphins into my system like few things I know.

After a light crank of the reel to check the tension, I set the hook and I began to participate in the ancient ritual of hope. Actually, the ritual really began with the first cast. Every aspiring angler should understand that with every cast, there is the hope of a tug; with every tug, there is the hope of a struggle; with every struggle, there is the hope of an acquisition.  My hopes were all realized when I landed a nice 1-pound largemouth bass. However, this inspired another hope: with every acquisition, there is the hope that it has friends (hungry friends).

To be continued…

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