March 25, 2004

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

I now know what a kite feels like. Wouldnít you know, the first Saturday that I can actually get out and go fishing is the day northeast Missouri gets struck by the typhoon. Okay, so it wasnít a tropical storm Ė maybe tornado would be a better description, but then the winds werenít rotating up to the sky. Instead they were just blowing, and blowing and blowing.

Of course, Iím not going to let a little wind stop me on my first fishing outing. I just wished that I had been a little more prepared.

Iíve always read that wind can be an asset in fishing. It gives you direction, as the fish tend to stack up near the shore or around structure where the wind is blowing into them, bringing baitfish and other food to them as sort of a drive-up window.

But the experts that suggest to fish into the wind didnít warn us about whitecap situations. If Iíd been prepared I would have stopped by the fire station and got my helmet, the one with the hard protective visor that covers your face. It would have been helpful about that third cast when the wind blew my cast right back at me. That heavy spinnerbait definitely left a mark on my forehead.

So, by the time I had a headache from a few too many casts getting thrown back in my face, I gave in and moved to the other end of the pond.

If Iíd been prepared I would have worn my waders. I guess I donít have my sea legs, or my wind legs, yet. A few casts on this end and the wind caught me flush in the back and caused me to loose my balance and stumble right into the water.

Even with all of my problems, this diehard fisherman persevered. I stuck it out, cold feet, headache and all, and lasted a few hours.

I tried three different ponds and caught fish in them all. By the end of the afternoon I had caught and released a dozen bass. I had wanted to try to catch some crappie, but the wind just made it impossible to use the light-tackle needed for those guys. At least thatís what I thought. My brother-in-law caught two nice crappie on his bass rig. So as soon as the hurricane leaves the region I hope to get back out and try to catch some crappie.

I just hope there are still some left. On our way to the second pond I noticed a rather large varmint loping across the field from one waterway to the next. At first I thought it was a raccoon or a skunk, but it proved too big. When we popped over the ridge we came into sight of the first wild otter that I have seen on the farm. I tried to get ahead of him to snap a picture, but those creatures can scoot when motivated. Now Iíve heard they are hard on fish, and we found a few remnants of his handiwork on the pond bank, so we might suggest to him to start looking for a new home.

If I was a gambler, I might be looking for a new home since my NCAA bracket has gone south. Iím happy that I didnít give my annual predictions. Then again, by now readers know not to trust my opinion and would probably have done very well to pick opposite of my selections. Honestly, if they would have done that, I believe someone would have won the office pool because my picks just plain stunk.

I managed to pick just 21 of the first 32 games correctly. I got worse in round two, with just six of the Sweet 16. I only have three of those six advancing to the Elite Eight and only have one chance in the Final Four. I donít have any chance left in the championship game, meaning I canít get the national champion correct.

Oh well, maybe it wonít be windy this weekend and I can go fishing since I wonít need to be watching any of the basketball games.

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