By Ken Schultz
If you fish often and long enough some unusual, funny, and potentially dangerous experiences will happen. If you fish at night, the chances of having such experiences increase significantly.
I often fish just before and after dark. On many nights there are wonderful sunsets, which are generally obscured from my view by tall trees around the ponds I fish. But just before darkness falls, there’s a pinkish glow in the sky that lasts a short while, and white wispy clouds turn pink against a marine-blue background. I’ve stopped fishing to admire this, especially on those nights just prior to the full moon, when it rises early and is perched just above the trees out in the painted sky.
The fishing’s often pretty good, too. Some nights nothing more unusual or odd happens than a slew of bats foraging mightily. Some of them may even strike the line. I’ve been startled a few times when
fish have lurched after my surface plug when it was a few feet from the boat, usually reacting too fast and pulling the lure away, even though I have told others not to do this a hundred times.
The other night I caught a bass when the lure hung from my rod tip into the water. I’d pulled the lure in and before making another cast had looked at something across the pond, letting the lure dangle into the water by my kayak. There wasn’t more than 3 inches of line out.
But these are not the kinds of unusual moments that I was referring to earlier. Before the summer is over, something really out of the ordinary will happen.
Like the time Glenn Kessler and I were stalked along the shores of a lake by an animal that we could not see or identify. We were fishing our way out from a narrow bay toward the main part of the lake. It was a black moonless night and Glenn periodically flashed the shoreline with a light to check on our distance and help prevent us from casting onto shore, into thickets of laurel and berry bushes.
Midway down the shore the weak flashlight beam caught two red eyes. “Hey, did you see that?” asked Glenn. I had, but when he flashed back the creature was gone. Further down the shore, the beam caught two red eyes again. Again it melted away. At the point it happened again. We moved to the other side of the lake, returning back past this point several hours later. Along the shoreline the red eyes were there again, although we were not followed to the dock.
It was probably a coyote, acting unlike most coyotes, which disappear in a hurry when they encounter humans. But we’ll never know and often wondered.
My favorite offbeat night-fishing experience occurred years ago when I was a relatively new angler, fishing on a midsummer Saturday night on a busy small lake with older friend Kenny Fisher.
Kenny was a dyed-in-the-wool surface fisherman. I don’t remember him fishing anything but a Hula Popper. He was a smoker, too.
On this night, he and I had taken my boat, with an electric motor, across the lake and had been behind a point, fishing the back of a cove with lots of lily pads. It was dark, probably about 10 o'clock, when we slowly fished our way back toward the point, the tip and immediate sides of which had been a productive location.
There were houses along half of the lake, but not near the point, which extended from the hillside that was then undeveloped, overgrown former farmland. As we got closer to the point we could hear several people talking. Then laughter. Then splashing in the water.
There was no sense fishing there so we kicked the motor up and gave a wide berth around the point. Kenny took a drag from his cigarette and it glowed in the dark.
“Hey,” yelled one of the people in the water. “There’s some !@#$%!@#$ fishermen out there.” That was followed by frantic splashing as people rushed out of the water.
Kenny grabbed the flashlight, which had a strong beam, and we watched the scrambling butts of two guys and two gals, quite unclothed, rush onto shore.
He shut the light off and we laughed like crazy for a while.
Then we heard a plinking noise. Then another. And another.
They were throwing rocks!
We put the motor into high gear and headed straight away from the point, still laughing.
But the fishing was shot after that.
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