Spring leads from one thing to a mudder
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.