Pond Memories

Anglers Journal - - FIRST LIGHT - BY CALEB RE­GAN

There’s a place in south­east Kansas that con­jures images of loved ones, liv­ing and gone, blood rel­a­tives as well as friends who might as well have been.

I can see my grandpa in a fold­ing chair in front of his RV, my mom sit­ting on the bank, pole in hand, her bob­ber 10 or so feet out in the wa­ter, a live worm sus­pended be­low. And I clearly re­call my three broth­ers and me rough­hous­ing on the banks while my dad backs his 1966 Chevy pickup to the wa­ter’s edge and low­ers the tail­gate.

As a young­ster grow­ing up on a 160-acre farm in Mid­dle Amer­ica, I made some of my fond­est memories around the 3- or 4-acre pond about a quar­ter-mile from our house. That farm pond is where I learned to hunt for craw­dads and bull­frogs, and where my broth­ers and I dis­cov­ered what na­ture could pro­vide if we were dili­gent and pa­tient. In its hey­day our pond was chock-full of crap­pie, a tasty pan­fish that fights with the best of them.

My pas­sion for fish­ing has taken me from the Deschutes River in Ore­gon to north­ern Arkansas and be­yond — but no sin­gle lo­ca­tion makes me feel more child­like joy than a small pond un­der a huge Kansas evening sky.

It’s not ad­ven­ture fish­ing, but work­ing a soft bait or a pop­per on a warm sum­mer evening is a nice way to un­wind.

I’ve lost my share of good fish through the years on some travel trips, but I can’t re­call beat­ing my­self up over a crap­pie or pond bass that shook it­self free. There’s al­ways plenty more where that one came from.

It seems I’ve al­ways car­ried a travel rod in my Toy­ota 4Run­ner just so I can swing into my fa­vorite pond for an hour or two. I pull right on down to the wa­ter’s edge, peel off my T-shirt and go af­ter it. Some­times I might have to dig a lit­tle deeper into the truck for a stringer, but of­ten it’s sim­ple catch-and-re­lease fish­ing for the joy of it.

The nice thing about a small pond you fish rou­tinely is get­ting to know it re­ally well — its struc­ture and bot­tom, its quirks, its moods and the fish. Other times, I’ve been sur­prised by the re­la­tion­ships I gain by stop­ping at a pri­vate landowner’s house, knock­ing on the door and ask­ing for per­mis­sion to fre­quent his or her pond. A mess of fil­lets later, and who knows where things will go? I’ve even gained deer­hunt­ing ac­cess this way.

To some, a farm pond is sim­ply a wa­ter­ing hole for live­stock or a drainage area for a pas­ture. To me, these ponds are their own lit­tle worlds, with their own char­ac­ters and idio­syn­cra­sies, places well worth learn­ing over time.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.