Some look upward with their palms to the sky to seek answers to some of life’s most basic questions. Others use a completely different methodology to unlock life’s riddles. My daily life is bogged down with just as many what if’s and mental scratch tickets as the next fella, but most of my questions tend to be more transactional in nature. Like, “when is the new battery charger for my camera going to arrive?” The workhorse camera for providing you blog content has been the now classic Panasonic Lumix TS3. I don’t need to tell you that these little waterproof point and shoot cameras have been game changers for “fish gropers” everywhere. More to the point, my battery charger and I had unexpectedly parted ways recently, leaving my camera a lifeless pile of microchips. I placed an order for a new charger using the ultra-reliable eBay as a means to furnish me with a replacement. My friends at the USPS placed an envelope at my doorstep providing a new dimension in customer service. The “received without contents” and “received unsealed” stickers might as well said, “we hope you enjoy your empty box”, or “we’re sorry for your loss.” The mantra of “through rain, sleet and snow” took on a whole new meaning as I considered my next move.
Selfie nation has become the bane of our collective existence. The power of phone-based cameras have allowed the self absorbed to put themselves into context, and I have been not been guiltless in this crime. This wasn’t a simple case of hollow self indulgence. Action fishing shots are hard to come by when you have a tendency to fish by yourself. Originally it was an attempt to sprinkle a few humans (me) into the endless ribbon of woods, water and fish. Eventually I’d just throw a good one in from time to time to annoy Mrs. Adrift. Hello world! I offer up this shot in the spirit of photographic experimentation. In my estimation this portal is little more than a personal scrapbook of my fishing pursuits anyway.
With my Panasonic down for the count I grabbed a Nikon DSLR with every intention of bringing you some Brookie action in “full HD.” Unfortunately I wimped out and decided to capture the day via an iphone and a GoPro. Call me lazy, but fishing, handling the catch, and snapping away with a real camera is just too much of a chore. While a GoPro does a nice job of capturing video, it’s a crap shoot when relied upon to shoot still photography. GoPro results, and iphones to a lesser extent, are an exercise in guesswork. It’s a push the button and hope for the best endeavor. With the blown out highlights and the wide angle lens, I find the shots to be almost cartoonish in their appearance. It doesn’t help that my first generation GoPro has a few scratches in the lens that create predictable blurry spots in the frame. Don’t get me started on iphones. Even though I always carry mine in a waterproof case, I’ve managed to kill 3 of them on the water. But enough of the shortcomings (and silly camera banter) let’s get to the results portion of the equation.
It’s not like this year’s spring runoff has left us up shit creek, but let’s not count our chickens before they hatch. Reports have run rampant of a notoriously poor start to the Wisconsin trout season. As I went fishless for the first hour of the day, I was building confidence that I’d succumb to another lackluster excursion. There was just enough remaining stain on the water that I couldn’t see the bottom of the deeper pools.
I swung a juicy looking Shirley Temple into a medium paced run, only to watch a decent looking chunk emerge to lazily inspect my offering. I threw it back into the spot and allowed it to sink all the way to the bottom. Without hesitation the char snatched it up like a Scooby snack. This was the key that unlocked the remainder of the afternoon. The bites weren’t particularly plentiful or aggressive, but if I allowed the fly to dredge the bottom, I’d occasionally pick up a hit or two. In the deepest spot of the afternoon, I picked up two or three solid Brookies, but not anything to get too excited about. It’s funny how we can adjust our expectations. An eleven or twelve inch brown trout is as common as passed gas, but in the midwest spring creek brook trout paradigm, it’s a respectable result. After another handful of fruitless drifts, I highsticked the heart of the run one more time, garnering a solid take. As I set the hook, it became immediately apparent that a more substantial opponent had stepped into the ring. After gingerly clearing him from any potential pitfalls, I slid down the bank and into the drink, spooking every trout in the tri-county area. But it mattered little as I netted the brute and waded down into shallow water for closer inspection. I snapped a few pics and sent him on his way. At this point it dawned on me that the needle had conclusively moved to hit from miss.
I forged a path further upstream into clearer water. The clarity didn’t seem to help the situation, and the fish became less cooperative. After picking up a few more quality participants, the hits eventually gave way to a series of frustrating short strikes. It mattered little because my time had run out. In an uncharacteristic display of restraint, I didn’t “one last cast” myself into the danger zone.
There are many times that I set out with fairly low expectations, but you always have to at least hope for the best. I’ve had a fairly serious case of Brookie on the brain the last few months, but I hadn’t taken the time to partake. This little jaunt was enough to temporarily tamp down the urges. Rolling around at night and simply dreaming of brook trout won’t bring them to hand. A little elbow grease and solid plan was enough to exercise these demons. It makes you wonder who coined the phrase “expect the unexpected?” Ask and ye shall receive?