If you could bottle a fisherman into a prescription and sell it in your pharmacy, the pharmacist would warn you of the side effects. Blood, sweat and tears. Yes, my friends. To be a fisherman is to be life threatening. Your doctor may tell you that things will never be the same when diagnosed as an avid angler. He’ll sit you down in his office and hand you a pamphlet. There he will go over what to expect as a fisherman…
- Loss of income due to multiple episodes of BassPro and Cabelas
- Loss of hearing but only in cases of your wife/loved one speaking words of “Don’t you dare go fishing” or “Please stay home and cuddle with me”
- Impaired sight leading to spats of distraction to shiny objects
- Swelling in the hands due to intense reeling
- Memory loss but only in discussions of matter of size of catches and locations of fishing hot spots
- Heightened strength of balance and focus
- Slurred speech due to loss of big catch
- Chest pains due to multiple catches
- Insomnia due to hours in river
- Loss of social life due to disappearing for days on end
Yes being a fisherman is like being diagnosed with a lifelong terminal disease. Because it will always haunt you and you pray someday it kills you. Like the fisherman, a smallmouth is also diagnosed. A diagnosis to survive and keep surviving. We’ve talked before about how smallies are the Vikings of the rivers. They fight and fight and fight and when there is no fight to be had, they go looking for more fight. A smallmouth will swim up river all day if it has too in order to find the most fulfilling of meals to keep surviving. Enduring the strongest of rapids, the murkiest of river waters and the hottest of temperatures. Seeking solace beside a boulder or beneath a tree for a moment catching breath in order to move on. Perseverance, my friends. That is the true nature of a survivor. And smallies are the kings of river survivors. Tough, eager, optimistic, and crafty. These freshwater Vikings know what it takes to keep going, even in the worst of conditions.
And boy, could we relate? A riverbum lives on the edge of disappointment and ecstasy. One minute the river is perfect, the weather is heavenly and the fishing is to die for. The next, a tornado/hurricane/monsoon befalls just in that one place you wish to fish all weekend and stops just as soon as 6 am alarm goes off Monday morning. Why God? Why? But persevere we must, like the smallmouth we seek.
So, Friday morning started off like any other summer Friday morning with sun and warmth. Our newest member just happened to be turning 26 that day so of course the Riverbum with the most Y chromosome and pink in her closet was in charge of planning. The destination for the weekend? Starved Rock to fish the Illinois and do some rock climbing. But, God had other plans for the Riverbums. For he knows what is best for us. Friday night, it started to rain in Oglesby Illinois and wouldn’t stop (unbeknownced to the 2 youngest Riverbums) until noon the next day or so. As we woke up in our beds floating down the small town of Utica we decided, we would have to seek less swollen waters. So, we ventured to the River that shall not be named.
But, the road blocks don’t end there. 5 hours into the road trip and still 3 hours away, a gnarly storm hit just as the sun went down. AC at the helm, she did her best to steer their trusty 2012 Honda CRV but the roads were too dangerous. After 40 hotels calls and one sketchy consideration of a rundown motel, we found safe harbors in Sheboygan for the night. With our hopes quickly diminishing on the river being flooded we fell asleep with our phones set for 5 am.
Being awaken by a streaming sun is always a good sign for a fisherman. When we saw the dawning sun we quickly checked the DNR water levels and to our surprise saw the river was holding at a stable level. So we zoomed out of there and headed to the river. We were pleasantly amazed to find the river super clear and at the level we were hoping for. So, AC took Ben by the shoulders and after signing his contract and swearing an oath, she bestowed on him the official River God blessing right before he set his first step into these magical waters. And he never looked back…
Yes, my friends. Just as Jesus made the dead rise, as Moses parted the red sea, and Schwarzenegger came back…TWICE! The newest Riverbum encountered a true river miracle and was hooked. Smallies galore, gorgeous steady 70’s weather and one awesome day. Just goes to show, persevere and the river shall deliver.
Until next time, we’ll see ya on the other side of the river.