Jan 6, 2013

Be Prepared

     One of my favorite things about fish are the endless combinations of shapes, colors, and patterns that they can have. I'll admit that some of them are dang ugly, but others seem to have been painted by a very creative artist.

     During most of 2012 I was trying to finish up my degree at the University of Idaho (in Moscow, ID) while living in the Tri-Cities, Washington. I had to make several trips back and forth between Moscow and the Tri-Cities. Now I don't know if you've ever made that drive, but it's not exactly full of things to look at, unless you really like sage brush and wheat fields. Sure there's the Palouse River, and they even named part of the road the Palouse Scenic Byway.  I suppose it has its moments, but by and large it doesn't do anything for me and it's about all I can do to stay awake during the drive. There is however one small little pond that always catches my eye. I decided to check it out one trip. I discovered that it's called Pampa Pond and from what I could glean from the internet, it is stocked with rainbows when the temperature permits. In fact it's supposed to be decent at the right time of the year - for hatchery trout.

     I've got no love for hatchery rainbows, or hotdogs as they are called by those in the know. I do my best not to catch them. They serve their purpose, and I'm all for that, but they just don't do anything for me. However this was August and I was pretty sure the hotdogs would have cooked in the warm summer temperatures by that time, and I was curious what else was swimming around in there, so I pulled over.
     Since this was a spur of the moment excursion, I hadn't brought much gear. In fact I was relegated to using my emergency fishing pole that I keep in my trunk. What, you don't have one of those? I began casting small jigs and lures with nothing to show for it. I could see lot's of little sunfish, but they were all too small to eat my stuff. I could also see a LOT of bullfrogs. Did I mention that there were a LOT of them?
      After going through most of my tackle box with nothing to show for it, I decided to downsize my offerings and catch the tiny panfish. I searched the box for anything small enough. It took me a while since this was my emergency tackle box that I keep in the trunk next to the emergency fishing pole. You don't have one of those either?? I tied on a tiny little ice fishing jig and right away started catching the most vibrantly colored pumpinseeds I have ever seen. They were clearly badly stunted since the large ones were barely pushing 4 inches, but they sure packed a lot of color onto their small bodies.
Whoever painted this fish did an excellent job.
     I picked through probably 20 of these little guys hoping for something bigger or maybe a different species, but as far as I could tell, there were only pumpkinseeds and bull frogs in the pond. Speaking of bullfrogs, one cocky little one didn't seem to be afraid of me and stood his ground. I waived my jig in front of his face thinking he would jump away. He jumped alright but he also opened his mouth and ate my jig!
I don't think Kermit here thought his little predicament was as funny as I did.
It's not easy being green...
     The moral of this story is twofold: always be prepared for you never know when an opportunity to fish will befall you (trunk tackle is handy for just such an occasion), and if you're only going to be a four inch fish you can still at least be well painted and make a good showing of yourself. The frog may have different ideas as to the morals of this story, but you'll have to ask him about that.

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