Spring leads from one thing to a mud­der

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - OPEN COUN­TRY

HIS­TORY BUFFS MIGHT RE­CALL that in the Sec­ond World War, Gen­eral Ge­orge S. Pat­ton was nick­named, “Old Blood and Guts.” Well, I’m pretty sure that had he been cam­paign­ing in On­tario in early spring, that name might have been changed to “Old Mud and Guts.”

Mud, af­ter all is the one thing you can count on this time of year in the out­doors. And it does take a lit­tle bit of guts to ne­go­ti­ate your way through the bush along trails that look like they could swal­low a school bus.

As a short, rel­a­tively heavy out­doors­man, I have a par­tic­u­lar dis­dain for mud. For good rea­son too; like all out­doors­men, I have had muddy patches of trail steal the boots right off my feet or ce­ment my feet in place un­til I could fig­ure a way out, which gen­er­ally in­volved a very undig­ni­fied front crawl. The good news is we have no true quick­sand patches in most of On­tario. Here, you are more likely to sink into a mud patch for a fi­nite depth which can be mathe-

mat­i­cally de­fined as hb + 1, where hb equals the height of your rub­ber boots and 1 is the depth ex­ceed­ing it in inches.

Of course, there are some sick folks – I’m re­fer­ring to ATV and dirt bike rid­ers as well as Jeep en­thu­si­asts who ac­tu­ally set off in search of mud. The rest of us, how­ever, do our best to avoid it.

That, how­ever, is im­pos­si­ble. At best, you can walk around the dan­ger­ous patches.

What most out­doors­men don’t re­al­ize, how­ever, is that mud can also be your friend. For in­stance, if there is a muddy trail lead­ing to your favourite fish­ing hole on a good trout creek you can use this to your ad­van­tage. Sim­ply place an old fish­ing hat fes­tooned with old fish­ing flies in the mid­dle of a par­tic­u­larly scary patch of mud. Leave one old rod there too.

The the­ory be­hind this is the next an­gler walk­ing down the trail who hap­pens upon this scene will nat­u­rally as­sume an un­for­tu­nate an­gler ac­tu­ally found the one over-the­head deep patch of mud in the prov­ince and sank un­til all that was left show­ing was his hat and fish­ing rod.

The an­gler dis­cov­er­ing this will nat­u­rally take the kind of prompt ac­tion we an­glers are known for. That’s right, he’ll im­me­di­ately check to see which fly was tied onto the leader of the fish­ing rod.

And here’s the ge­nius part – you tie on a pheas­ant tail nymph in size 8 with a hot pink tho­rax to that leader, even though you know full well the brook trout on that stretch of wa­ter pre­fer hot or­ange tho­raxes and noth­ing larger than size 12! Or worms.

To ce­ment the ruse, when you see an an­gler com­ing down that trail to the creek, you need to say some­thing like, “Well, I thought you might be old John! He was sup­posed to meet me here and fi­nally show me his killer fly! That guy al­ways out­fishes ev­ery­one on this creek with it but he never tells us what it is.”

Af­ter that you can en­joy a fun day of an­gling that in­cludes you catch­ing brook trout and the other an­gler feeling the si­mul­ta­ne­ous ef­fects of guilt and get­ting skunked.

Clearly, this is not a tech­nique you should brag too much about. But fish­ing can be com­pet­i­tive and some­times in spring with all the mud around, it doesn’t hurt to play dirty.

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