After a long winter, they all look promising

“We have a farm pond you can fish,” my brother-in-law’s cousin said. It was frigid cold, dead of winter, and we were sitting in the Taj Mahal of pit blinds waiting for first light and some geese to fly over. In the Northern Neck of Virginia hunting is king. And that’s good news for me because it means overlooked water and dumb fish… my favorite.

The conversation in the blind moved on, but looming in the back of my mind was this farm pond and magnificent visions of monster blowups on poppers. As time passed the geese didn’t comply. I helped gather the decoys and mentioned the pond again. The guys were more than happy to tell me about it and a few others I should try. There were so many suggestions it was hard to keep track of whose pond was where. I love these people.

This unseasonably long winter was made longer by my anticipation of the bass that would hold me over until the striper run. But spring finally came and I grabbed the long rod for a quick recon mission after work. I set out to the closest pond I could remember directions to. And, for the first time ever, it was as good as someone remembered it to be.

I quit on the tenth bass in the short hour I could get away. All on poppers. All eager to take a fly with the reckless disregard of a freshman frat boy at a sorority social. On my ride to pick up my daughter I called my fishing buddy from back home and told him about the new honey hole. We immediately started scheming and decided his family would come down and the kids would play and the mom’s would talk while we fished; then we’d take the kids so the moms could have their evening out, kid and husband free.

The weekend came and both families hadn’t been sitting in the living room for more than 15 minutes before I sheepishly asked if we could go fishing. We got the okay from the wives and we loaded the truck. The pond is no more than 10 minutes away and we were soon walking the water’s edge. I gave my buddy my 6-weight with a CK baitfish already strung up. On my rig, I tied on the fattest popper I owned, thinking that it would entice one of the bigger bucketmouths.

“Fish on” was the phrase of the day and when we got home we had the pictures to prove it. That night we grilled steaks and drank beers as our kids played and our wives enjoyed their night out. I was posting the ceremonial bass shots on social media as we were trying to figure out how to ask the wives if we could hit the pond at dawn before the kids woke up. We decided they were probably inclined to acquiesce after their night out. It worked, and the next morning it was on once again. We fished for an hour and a half and we got home just in time to start breakfast.

While we were cleaning up and getting ready for the day I got a phone call from my brother-in-law. He was just the guy I wanted to talk to. I assumed he saw my pictures online and was calling to congratulate me. I pick up the phone and he greeted me on the other end, “Hey man, nice fish… but that’s not our pond.”

[Preston Ailor teaches high school physics in the Northern Neck of Virginia.]
Tom Bie

Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.

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