January 19, 2020

"Chasing Rainbows"

I was working midnight shifts at Elroy and going to college during the day in Lacrosse for Police Science. I slept a little when I got off school and did it all over again.  I worked every other weekend and was on call.  It was my first real Law Enforcement job out of the Army.  I had been a Military Policeman for seven years one month and eleven days. I worked in Elroy from May 87 to May 88.

It is a very small town and I spent most of my time shaking door handles and writing parking tickets. The day of the no picture was late April 1988.  I had a film camera in my squad.  It was before digital cameras and cellphones.  I had just taken a college course in Photography.  I didn't particularly like the class.  It was focused on black and white and film development. 

It was a Sunday morning and it was raining buckets.  No one was out and about.  It was my weekend to work so I was going to make an appearance on the "mean streets" of Elroy that morning.  Elroy has a population of just over a thousand folks. Most folks in Elroy were still sleeping off their Saturday night and no one was out on that rainy morning.

The rain abruptly stopped and the sun caused this huge double rainbow.  It was beautiful and it seemed like it went to the ground right out on the edge of town.  I grabbed the camera and put it in the trunk because I wanted a photo of this.  The Chief had cleared me using the camera for other than work if I paid for the film I used.

The rainbows kept moving.  It was like they were teasing me.  I followed them out of the city limits into a new subdivision about a mile out of town.  I was out of my patrol area.  I often went out in the county to do car deer accidents for the Sheriff's Department and back them up on a variety of calls.  I was deputized for the county.

There the double rainbows were out in a pasture going right into the ground not 50 yards from the road. The colors were brilliant and it seemed like I could almost touch the rainbows.  I got out of the squad and grabbed the camera out of the trunk.  As I readied the camera the rainbows abruptly disappeared.  I was so disappointed I did not get that photo.  I stood there for a short time waiting to see if the conditions might be repeated.  They did not.

I got a call on my head held radio as I stood there from the Sheriff's Department.  A local had seen me out in the county and called in to dispatch to inquire what was going on in their neighborhood. They asked me why I was out in the county and if I needed any back-up.  I told them no and I would be calling them when I returned to Elroy.  Because the county was alerted I was required by Elroy Police policy to generate a report.

I called the Chief later in the day and explained what had happened.  He told me he would have done exactly the same thing.  He told me to make that report and title it "Chasing Rainbows."

January 15, 2020

Wednesday Visits

We talked about many things on our Wednesday morning visits.  I typically took sweets for her because I was always worried about her getting sick and becoming skinny and frail.  I thought if she had a little meat on her bones she could withstand illness better.

I would typically go fishing prior to our visits.  It was a tradition almost. If I caught a keeper I quit fishing and drove to her house and I would show her my catch and she would always "wow" at it. If my morning outing was not successful I would go again after our visit.  If I caught something I would return to her house.  If she saw my vehicle pull in for a second time she would meet me on her front doorstep because she knew I caught something worthy of admiring.

 She always had newspapers handy by the door so I could clean the fish on the picnic table near the outdoor spigot. She had a couple folks in town that always asked her about fish I had caught.  They were on an informal list for my fish.  My Dad had an actual list at the gas station in town 50 years prior. My Mom liked me carrying on my Father's legacy.

In the last couple years I would take my Mom out to eat for our visits.  We would always take the rural backroads.  She liked the backroads because it was where her memories of my Father were the most strong.  He was a hunting and fishing nut. I would go on photographic missions with her.  She saw this huge thistle on the side of the road and insisted I turn around and take a photo.  She told me to take lots of photos of the thistle because it was so unique. This is a Musk Thistle.

Ma always told stories about Dad on our adventures on the backroads.  She repeated the same stories often.  I did not mind.  It made her happy and that was all that mattered.  We even went back to the bridge "we" found the thistle on for 2 more years afterward.  She was disappointed it did not grow each year and was gone after that only time "we" photographed it.

We did find a nice flower to take photos of on another trip.  She liked it if I would find out what I had taken photos of.  This a Spiderwort.

Not so long ago our Wednesday visits changed.  Her vision and balance became poor and she moved in with my sister Deb.  She developed pneumonia and became more frail.  Her health was a constant subject with my sister Deb and I.  Deb took her to all of her doctor visits. I had to visit when Mom was available and not going to the doctor.  I remember checking the answering machine each time I came home because I would always worry about Mom.  The phone rang at an odd time this April and I was certain it was bad news about Mom. It was bad news about my sister Kate.

We started our Wednesday eating out again.  My Ma's balance was terrible and I always held her arm to and from places we went to eat. We talked about Kate going to heaven and being with Dad often on our long car rides out in the country. My mom is very religious.  She realized her health was failing and it wouldn't be long before she was reunited with her parents and Dad and Kate.

We had a really long conversation once about her seeing Dad once she went to heaven. She wondered if he would see her as a frail old 91 year old or as he last saw her in 1967. She thought he might not even recognize her.  She was very happy when I told her he would see her as she was on their wedding day.

I still look at the answering machine every time I walk in the house.  I still catch myself planning our next Wednesday adventure.  Mom's funeral is this Saturday.

January 11, 2020

Another Dog Story

I have had many encounters with dogs on stream. Most have been pleasant. I had another on Sunday that was interesting.

I was gearing up roadside and there was a house about 30 yards away. I heard a dog barking so I called out to it. I did my standard here puppy....puppy....I do this to assess the situation so I don't end up bitten.

The white lab came to the road and barked really loud at me. I was uncertain whether this was an aggressive dog so I went down to one knee and called come here sweetie. The dog seemed to calm down a little and came part way across the road. It then went on the other side of my car in the road. I am a dog lover and it made me worry about the dog being in the road and maybe getting hit by a car because I called it. I called some more thinking it would come and get out of the road. It stopped barking and I could not see it anymore.

I was still kneeling so I tied by boots and adjusted my gravel guards. I thought about the quiet dog and worried about standing up abruptly and getting bitten. That worry went away quickly.

The female lab had come around behind me. She was very quiet. The way I found out she was there was by her shoving her nose in my bent over behind and sniffing me. I was scared at first because she was so close and I had not evaluated her body language yet. I let her do her sniffing and then did the come here sweetie call and she came to hand and I petted her. She followed me on stream for an hour and then went home.

January 10, 2020

Trip Report "Trout Were Not Hungry"

Matt Malyuk and I fished today for the first time ever for 4 hours. He landed 5 and I landed 3. Was really hard to buy a bite. I caught one worth a photo.  Matt had a big get off after 2 violent head shakes.

Caught this one and 11 more at second location.

January 05, 2020

Opening Weekend Sunday "Solo"

Was planning on going out with Chris again today.  He called at 8:30am and told me he was a no go due to his knee aching.  He over did the day before.  I was also sore and contemplated staying home and resting.  I sat n the recliner for a bit.  I checked the weather and saw Sunday and Monday were going to be good for fishing.  I got dressed and decided to hit an easy close stretch.  As I drove north I thought about alternative places in case my close pick was taken.  Three of my close places were taken.

I had procured some new permission in December about 30 minutes away.  No one was on the stretch.  I was on the water by 11am.  Was partly cloudy and water clarity was good.  Was 34 degrees when I began.  It got up to 39 in the middle.  I had to unbutton my coat.  Later in the outing the wind picked up and I closed the coat.

The first short stretch was open pasture.  It was old permission.  I scored three right away.  I was excited about the adjoining stretch and zoomed through the open pasture. The other side of the fence there were tall brown weeds and greasy banks.

When I see a nice bend, I typically take a photo prior to fishing it.  This bend had a spring "Thermal" feeding in about half way up the curve on the left.  I banged 11 browns out of this hole.  Most were small.  One of the first casts I rolled a big fish.  I was angry at all the littles getting in the way and spooking the big dog that rolled.

None of the fish caught in this hole were in the fast water.  I walked up to the 90 degree turn and dropped a short cast on the slow water just above the bend and was rewarded.

I was still kinda worn out from Saturday and these tall weeds really made it hard sledding.  Typically when I am tired or the fishing is poor I take scenery photos.  I was tired.  I had caught more than Saturday already.

Not sure what this is.  Maybe "Old Man's Beard."

The next bend looked good and I could hear another spring. It fed in at the corner again.   I landed 13 browns in this corner.  Nothing big.  My legs were telling me to take a break. I could see another pasture about 60 yards upstream.

The pasture made me forget about having tired legs. The wind picked up about now.  I was really close to the road.  I could see the farmhouse where I got my new permssion.  There was a field road with ruts right near a hole that looked like it had promise. I thought to myself that this hole was too close to the road and the house to hold anything decent. I never walk by good looking water.

Sorry no photo of this hole. Too good to let someone recognize it from the photo..   I caught a smallish brown near the bottom of the hole.  The banks were slippery and I was a little lazy and tired and fished the hole from up higher on the bank than I really should have been.  I had a medium brown follow and I took it away from it at shore.  I did this on purpose because this hole really looked good and I did not want the little ones to spook a potential monster from the hole like happened in the other two corners.

Had a couple bumps but no hook ups.  I went up to the 90 degree bend again and threw into the slack water on the inside of the bend. I slowed down my retrieve because this hole was deep and it was a little slower than the rest of the stretch. I was still up a little too high on the bank. The edge was greasy and I did not want to end up in the water. My spinner came to the surface and I saw a huge white mouth opening right under my lure. I stopped my retrieve and the giant hook jawed brown stuck his whole head out of the water and it literally looked like it kissed my spinner and dropped it immediately. I was worried it saw me so I crouched down to make less of me visable.  I did not feel the trout touch the spinner so I thought this trout might come back.  I had on a gold panther martin deluxe on with red and black accents.  I took the lure away from a couple other littles on the edge purposely to try to avoid spooking the hole. 20 casts in there and no more hits or follows.

I decided a change was in order.  I crawled downstream 10 yards and slowly got closer to the water. I sat there and tied on a yellow body with red spots with a silver blade.  I opened my can of pop and drank it slowly.  I wanted the big fish to forget about me.  The pop was done and I sat there for about another 10 minutes. I was on the water's edge in the seated postion. If I hooked up on the kisser I wanted to avoid sliding down the greasy bank to net it.

I threw in twice and nobody home. The third cast it happened.  I had a violent hit and my rod bent in half.  I could feel the trout's power and it was big. It ran around the hole but hung close to the bottom.  I gained the upper hand and got it coming to shore. It was still hugging the bottom and I could not see the whole trout. I saw its bright yellow side with loads of spots  I smiled and that smile got slapped off my face when it dove again.

 I was being a little too gentle with this fish and decided to end it and muscle it to the surface.  Before I could muscle it I felt the damn trout wrap around something. A tree limb or something.  It was welded to the bottom.  I tried lightening up on the battle so the fish could swim out of the mess.  I could see flashes of its giant side down 6 feet. I could feel it was wrapped on something.  I thought about going into the water but it was too deep.  No swimming on a 38 degree day.

 I had a pang of guilt go through me.  If this big head male brown broke off with that panther in its mouth it would surely die. I stood up and tried to get a better angle to free it from the branch. My panther came screaming back at me.  No break off. I was so relieved. I fished my way to the next bridge. I landed 34 brown today.  Most of them were on the small side. When I got back to the vehicle I thought about if I did anything wrong with the kisser??  The fish just wins some of the time I thought.  We will dance again.