Ragged Ass Fishing
Ragged ass fishing. That's how I feel when I'm at the end of the season. When the cool winds come off Lake Erie, that gets my senses stirring. The days get shorter and I start getting anxious for another steelhead season. I had all summer to rest and relax. I'm not a summer angler as I rarely wet a line. When the streams get high from the rains in September, I hit the road and head out east. My step is quick as I hit the trail and head for the river. But as the season progresses, I start to lose a little in my step. Probably because I'm not in the best of shape. Next year, I'll be 40 years old and I keep telling myself I need to hit the gym and lay off the junk food. Some winters I catch a break when the streams are frozen over. But I need my fix, I have to get out. Usually it's the power plant but I would prefer the streams. By spring, I'm tired. Tired of getting up early, tired of tying sacs and tired of walking the endless miles.
Today is no different as it's early April. The weather feels more early March as I leave my place. I'm heading out west to the Vermilion River. The V as we call it the westernmost stocked steelhead river in Ohio. The Vermilion is a rural river running along fields and gradually into forested areas near the lake. The lower section of the river is where I'm today. The river here is lazy and meanders about. Large sections of the clay mud banks have been carved out by years of ice and floods. My ragged ass is parked in one spot as I'm fishing a pool. The cold water helps dull the pain in my one knee. I tweaked it a couple weeks ago when I slipped on some rocks on the Grand. The walk down the hill didn't help as I grimaced all the way down. Nearly every year I get some type of injury usually my ankles or knees. My weight doesn't help as I'm pushing 220 pounds. Something has to give, because I'm going through another year of this.
The fishing is slow as I pick off some fish and I start getting antsy. But that means having to walk back up the goat hill. The long time in the water has made my knee feel better. I decide to head to another spot farther upstream. I walk on the trail and mutter under breath that some of these have deliberately fallen across the trail. I huff and puff as I negotiate over and around the trees. Then I'm at the bottom of the goat hill. The goat hill as we call it is very steep but short. It's nothing like the hill on the Grand at Hogsback Ridge, that one is a killer after a long day.
The trail is very narrow, one misstep and you're tumbling down to the bottom. I make to the top, but I'm disgusted that I winded. My knee is fine for now as I drive the down the road to another metropark. Even though the landscape is grey and lifeless in a few weeks, the steelhead run will be winding down. As I walk down, I see several trillium peeking through the leaf litter. Next week the temperatures are supposed to be in the 60s. The trees will be sprouting leaves and the woods full of bird songs. I welcome spring as winter dragged on, just like my ass is dragging as I shuffle my way down the hill. I cross over and I sink into the gravel bottom. I struggle to make it over and I'm finally on firm ground. The river is narrow here as it runs tight along the bank and eventually spills into another run. Not hard to figure out where the fish are holding as I toss the float out. It runs right down the middle and it gets sucked under. I set the fish the bulldogs on the bottom. It becomes a battle of attrition and I start to wonder if it run under a log or branch. Finally it starts to yield and I see it come to the surface. It's a pretty large male probably pushing 30" and I beach it on the gravel bar. I bend over and pop the hook out. I push the fish back into the water and I when I stand up, my lower back starts to seize up. Lately, I've having back issues and my gut is the culprit. I pretty well have no core and the bowling ball I carry has got to go. I catch more fish and I don't bend over, instead I'm on my knees and slowly get back up after releasing the fish.
I bounce around the lower end until I run out of bait. I had a great day and that makes those aches and pains a little more bearable. I make my up the hill and when I finally get to the lot, I crack open a water. I guzzle the entire bottle and because of my back, I sit on the grass and take my boots and waders off. It's a pathetic sight. I toss everything in the back and hit the road. On the way home, my stomach is grumbling and usually I would stop at Wendy's. I resist the temptation and continue head home. Because I'm single, I tend to eat out a lot, probably too much. I pull into the grocery store and I buy some mixed greens and vegetables. I also pick up a rotisserie chicken. When I get home I make myself a nice chicken salad and drizzle olive oil over it. I plan on starting to eat more healthy and exercise more. Will I follow through? I'll give it my best shot as we all know that the majority of people that go on diets often succumb to temptation. Maybe, I'm starting to get fed up with being so ragged ass when the season comes to end. I have a summer to shed some of those pounds and hopefully I'll be a little more fit this upcoming fall.