The land used to be pastureland, purchased by my father’s family in 1841 to graze dairy cows. In the early 1900s they converted it for recreation, building cottages along the banks of the river in sight of the rapids that existed before construction of the Seaway.
Two islands that were named for dad’s ancestors have been disappeared under the surface since the Authority raised the water levels for the shipping channel. A hazard to navigation buoy marks their presence.
My grandmother planted pine trees in the boggy land between the road and the river and they’ve grown tall in the decades and harbor deer and the occasional family of red foxes.
A nesting pair of bald eagles has made a home in the islands across the river and loons come in the spring before the boat traffic gets too heavy. Wild turkeys run on the islands too and when the great blue herons spread their wings overhead they look like flying dinosaurs.
The water is as clear as it has ever been and you can see the pike waiting in ambush or the bass hugging structure by the dozens or the giant carp or the chub schooling on the shoals like bonefish. Put in the time, you think, and they’ll be there. They’ve adapted and survived over the centuries but you can never shake the feeling that at any moment one doomed freighter can take it all away.
The sun came out and the shallows warmed and fish moved into them. Others held fast in the current rips, poised for ambush, and still others patrolled the drop-offs or took cover in the newly thickening weeds. The fish hit the flies of those who were there and the pics are for those who could not be.
The water temperature held fast at 44 degrees but the air temperature dropped precipitously below that. The wind brought snow flurries into the occasion. Spending 12 formative years in Florida tends to diminish appreciation for that sort of clime.
Matt Smytheis a Western New Yorker with steelhead tendencies and one day to get it done. Cold could not be an impediment.
Things got worse before they got better but by that time the only trace left of Matt was a half-empty bottle of Maker’s Mark.
Downloaded the underwater shots from my recent pike fishing expedition. Some people see ugliness in her face, but I see cold calculating elegance. Even here, subdued, her eye has a look like she’s sizing up the possibility of biting off my fingers.
The North Country beckons. The big nasties are aligned in the fly box, ready to endure any sharp-toothed ambush tactics in the shallows. ZB touches down at Idlewild and we take to the interstate highway system. Boats will be launched, lines in the water, by the PM. This is the 12th Annual, attended by family and friends who roll from way back in the 20th Century. This is a good deal.
I stopped into Atlantic Outfitters yesterday for some supplies and mentioned to John Thompson, the owner, that I’m getting ready for my northern pike outing next month. He pulled this from his tying table, a creation from one of his weekly tying classes, and gave it to me to test for results. Looks to be pike nasty, maybe even muskie nasty, so we’ll see what goes down.