The Curse of The Agitated Angler

If all goes according to plan, Saturday morning I should be near Beaufort, SC shooting ducks on a private, seldom to never hunted pond at sunrise and chasing redfish and speckled trout with my fly rod the rest of the day.

The weather north of where I’ll be will be cold, windy and miserable which should push the ducks down. The temperature in Beaufort is supposed to be in the mid sixties, the sun is supposed to shine and the wind isn’t supposed to blow too hard.

On paper this should be a great day.

I don’t know how this will work out in reality.

See, when it comes to out-of-town fishing/hunting trips I’m notoriously unlucky. Usually I don’t even get to the destination. And on those rare occasions that I do, things always seem off enough that the locals are commenting on it.

This particular trip seems like it’s going to work out though.

Of course my wife was complaining about a sore throat this morning.

And the three year-old has been extra whiny today for some unknown reason.

And the baby has been crying all morning because he seems to be teething or something.

And it’s predicted to start sleeting/snowing here about the time I should be leaving tomorrow…

Autumn Fishing and Why I Never Get to Enjoy it

Deer.

That’s why I don’t get to enjoy that fall fish feeding frenzy (and don’t act like y’all don’t enjoy the alliteration).

I realize it’s my own fault.

Why don’t I just leave the poor deer alone and go catch a fish?

I know the bass are feeding aggressively. And the browns and brookies that live a short 2 hours away are getting ready to spawn. This is the best time of year for me to fool a truly big fish on the fly. They want to get fat and they want to do it fast.

I went out just the other day and the bass were already charging around chasing minnows and just feeding hard in general, and it’s just starting to cool down here in the South Carolina upstate. (As a side note I caught very few of these bass due to my insistence on fishing a popper in a very passive way, like it was still the middle summer, instead of putting on the big articulated streamer I finally switch to right before dark and started catching fish. I’m an idiot.)

Large articulated streamer or as I call it my “bigass bass cougar”.

And yet, even though I know the fishing is going to be awesome here in the near future and I should be tying flies and planing trips into the mountains, I can’t stop, even as I’m writing this, from worrying about all the things I still need to do to prepare for the quickly upcoming deer season.

I need meat in my freezer. Not want but need. I have a lot of mouths to feed and I don’t like buying meat from the grocery store for a bunch of hippy-ass reasons I won’t delve into at this particular moment. And I’m kind of unlucky when it comes to deer hunting (read as “I suck at hunting”), so this causes me to spend most to all of my free time during deer season, which is one longest in the country, in the woods.

I think this year though I’ll make a vow – I will not let fall fishing pass me by. I will not obsess about killing a deer. I will chase the hungry bass. I will find the big browns and brookies. I WILL FISH…

Except on Saturdays. Saturdays I’ll hunt. And during the new moon… And maybe right before a big cold front comes through… Or right after…

 

Emotionalism

Well, it’s only the second day of the Every day in May challenge and I’m already having problems. This does not bode well.

The subject is Home Waters and it should be a relatively easy topic for me to write about but I’m having a hard time putting how I feel into words. This is probably because it’s an emotional subject for me, as was what I wrote about yesterday, and honestly I’m not one for… sharing. Not real emotions anyway. I’m fine with bitching about things. Most of my agitation is mock agitation and I’ve always thought of ranting as a sport, but I try to stay distanced from anything that elicits any sort of poignant feelings. Yet, when thinking of the rivers, creeks and bays I fished the majority of my life it gets me a little verklempt. Being relatively recently removed from these waters I guess some deep feelings are to be expected, though I didn’t expect it to feel so close to mourning.

I’ve lived farther away for longer periods of time but I was younger with more money and fewer children and making trips back to what I’ll always consider my home was no big deal. If I was desperate for the reel screaming pull of a big redfish (which in my heart of hearts will always be a spottail bass), the smell of pluff mud or the taste of shrimp that were caught within hours of when they were eaten, I could make plans and be where I wanted within a week or two. I would often make the fourteen hour drive from Brooklyn to Charleston just to spend a long weekend. Didn’t even think that much about it.

Now I live three hours away and planing a trip to Charleston is akin to making a shuttle launch; everything has to be just right. How much do we have in the bank account? Is everyone feeling well? What needs to get done at home before we can leave? Is anything else scheduled? Where we going to stay? And god help me if I try to head down to do something that involves timing the tide and weather because, so far, it’s proven impossible.

I guess that’s why I get emotional about my home waters; they’re so close but still so far away.

Tailers and Exes

This upcoming Friday afternoon water will flood onto my favorite stretch of marsh for stalking tailing redfish on. The time of day, time of year, weather and past experiences all tell me that the fish should also be flooding onto that particular piece of marsh that afternoon.

I can’t be there.

And I was cool with this.

I don’t live in the area anymore and trying to make the trip that afternoon would be a giant disruption in my families rut routine. Never mind that I’d, at one point in my life, schedule everything around the “tailing tides” and go as far as making-up family emergencies to get out of work so I could meet the spotted-tailed ones as they made their way into the grass. You know, that’s all in the past. It’s a different point in my life. Everybody moves on. Blah, blah, blah…

Then I watched this video:

This video isn’t just some guys catching fish in the Charleston area, this is a video of some guys catching fish in the Charleston area where I used to catch fish in the Charleston area!

It makes me feel homesick, jealous and little disgusted all at the same time. It’s been a long time but it reminds me of that feeling when you find out your ex is now with somebody else…

Actually it’s more like finding a sex tape of your ex and the new person they’re with on the internet. And it looks as if the new person is better at it than you.

If it Wasn’t For Bad Luck…

I’ve been avoiding posting anything lately due to the old “if you don’t have anything good to say…” adage, but I remembered that I gave myself the moniker The Agitated Angler, not the Happy Fun-time Always Say Something Positive Angler. So this post is going to be nothing but a married, over-weight, middle class, white American male, in his mid-thirties, bitching about how bad his life sucks.

If you don’t read past this point I won’t blame you. Being somewhat of a liberal I realize the ridiculousness of someone like myself complaining about his lot in life when there’s the horrible plight of the who ever, where ever. But you know what? Fuck it. If I can’t bitch to strangers over the internet, who can I bitch to?

If you’ve managed to read this far without rolling your eyes, clicking off my site and looking for something useful to read, you may be asking yourself, “Agitated, why do you seem so agitated?” Well, like most things in my life it revolves around fishing and family. Or more specifically the lack of fishing and maybe too much contact with family.

It wasn’t all that long ago that in my life that I was the guy who had a line in the water at least two days a week. I didn’t need to look at a tide chart to tell you when grass would be flooded or when the mud flats would be dry, I knew the spots, and I could tell you what species a fish was just by the way it fought.

Now? Well, now I’m lucky to go fishing once a month. Hell, I haven’t caught a decent fish since June. And it’s not for my lack of trying.

See, I keep planing fishing trips, but things just keep happening.

The latest was (not)fishing the mystery river I wrote about here. I was told there was a river within walking distance of the cabin my friends and I were staying at for my buddy’s bachelor party. The “river” was little more than a glorified ditch and it was posted.

Okay, no big deal, I had a really good time anyway and found out that trout fishing could be had within a couple of hours of my home. So when I returned from said trip I made plans to head back up that way later in the week all by my lonesome and actually get some fishing done. My wife was totally cool with that. Her sister was down from New York to help with the kids and new baby, so a fishing day would be no problem. I tied up some more flies (because you never have enough flies), made sure I still had all my gear in order and my sister-in-law gets sick.

Terribly sick. Hacking, snotty nose, running a fever, stay the hell away from my two-week old baby kind of sick.

And that was the death of that fishing trip.

Remember, this was just the latest fishing trip that never happened. I won’t get into the long list of failed missions but let’s just say there have been a lot.

Then there’s the fishing related activities that I haven’t been able to do. I was planning on joining a fly fishing club but the birth of my newest addition has kept me from going to the meetings and a complicated set of problems involving the IRS is keeping me from going to a fly fishing show this weekend in Raleigh, NC.

I know that things could be much, much worse in my life but damn it, I want to go fishing. No, I need to go fishing. It has become a necessity for my sanity and for the safety of my family that I go out and try to catch some fish soon. I count myself lucky that I’m not at the point that this whole post isn’t me repeatedly writing “All children and no fishing makes a very agitated angler”.

Oh, and the very worst part? The thing that’s really killing me? If I have the shack nasties this bad in up-state South Carolina, my dreams of living in Alaska are dead.

Experience Needed

I need to go fly fishing. Seriously, I need to wet a line, sling some string, throw some tight loops, what ever your preferred colloquialism is, I need to go do it.

It’s been getting bad. I’ve been snappy with my family (my wife would say snappy-er). I’ve been twitchy. I occasionally find myself watching our pet beta in an unwholesome way. Even most of my dreams have been about fly fishing lately.

Some are wonderful dreams featuring tropical islands, thrashing tarpon and clear blue water. Most though are nightmares of Lovecraftian proportions. In the last one, I went to fish a fast, clear mountain stream that morphed into a muddy pond as I watched. I remember thinking in this dream that I could still salvage the trip, all I had to do was find my streamer box. I rummaged through the cyclopean depths of my bottomless pack for what seemed like aeons until I pulled out a tattered and broken foam fly box that had one unraveled, black woolly bugger in it…

Now, I won’t claim that I woke in a cold sweat, screaming over this nightmare, but it sure as hell wasn’t a pleasant feeling.

The worst part of all this is that I can cure my affliction with a simple formula: me + fly rod + water = a much less agitated Agitated Angler. But, and there’s always a but, this formula won’t work without time + $$$$$, nether of which I have in great abundance at this particular moment.

There is some relief in the foreseeable future for my ailment though. My buddy who wants me to teach him to fly fish is coming over this weekend so at least I’ll get in some casting practice.

I also get to go to Charleston, SC at the end of February for a wedding. The redfish will be schooling on the flats and I get the mornings to work on catching some of them.

Not to mention that I found someone who wants to float the upper Broad river with me, which is one of the few bodies of water here in South Carolina with a population of smallmouth bass.

And in May I should be heading up to Wisconsin, where my wife will attend WisCon, “the first and foremost feminist science fiction convention in the world”, and I will spend time floating, drifting and swinging flies throughout the driftless region.

So, with these planed trips and the spur of the moment trips that I know I’ll make to local ponds to hit the spring spawn(s), I should be able to shake off this nasty case of what-ever-you-want-to-call-it and get on with my life. Unless the waiting kills me first.