Editor’s Note: This is a column written by Switzerland County’s David Hewitt. The articles center on all things ‘outdoors’, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.
The shade of the creek bank feels good after an afternoon in the high 80’s – too warm for this early in the year.
The green-blue water of Upper Grants Creek looks inviting as I gingerly step down the rocky hill to the edge of the water.
Armed with my ultralight spinning rod, an old pair of tennis shoes and a ratty pair of cut off shorts, I slip into the cold, clear water. The initial shock of the water feels like needles in my feet, but soon, I get used to it and wade slightly deeper into the pool. First cast and the small jog lands with hardly a splash near a likely looking rock.
“Twelve o’clock, two o’clock”, I twitch my rod tip back and forth causing the lure to flutter and spin. An upward tick and I feel a quick tug on the other end of the line. With a flick of the wrist, I set the hook and the fight is on.
A few seconds later and I haul in a brightly colored pumpkinseed – all five inches of him. Hardly a trophy, not even a keeper, but with his glowing orange sides, covered in nearly neon blues and teals dots of color, he looks more like a fish that should be along a reef in the Caribbean. Not a more stunning fish swims in our freshwater.
I drop the little fella back into the cool, clear water and watch as he rushes back to his hiding spot behind the rock. A perfect spot with a little eddy to ambush his next meal. I underhand cast the lure under some brush and immediately, weight on the line.
I yank back and the surface of the creek explodes as another fish fights on the end of my line. A little heftier than the pumpkinseed sunfish, the scrappy warmouth fights much harder than his size lets on. I reel him in, pop the hook from his over-sized mouth and slip him back into the hole and watch as he makes his way for a deeper part of the pool.
I wade a little deeper, the cold water hitting my thighs and taking my breath, letting me know I’m still alive. I cast over and over, the small plastic lure hit hard by the panfish swimming in the creek. I cast, catch and reel, not sure how many of the little guys I’ve pulled in. This fishing trip isn’t about fillets for the skillet, but rather to relax.
To slow down from the hectic pace of the day to day we all live.
I wander up and down the creek, stepping lightly as I go so as to not give up my presence to the fish. I think back to how many times I’ve waded the creeks around here as a kid and all the way ’til today: the upper reaches of Laughery, Southfork, Grant’s and Arnold’s creeks. The Indian/Kentuck, Indian and others that I don’t even know the name of.
Sneaking along the creeks reminds me a more simple time, a better time – few responsibilities, no work, no cell phones, no Internet or social media. Only me and a couple of pals, walking miles up and down the creeks, searching for deep water pools and hoping to catch a nice smallmouth or fat spotted bass.
The shadows along Grant’s Creek are getting longer and dusk is telling me it’s time to pack it in and head back, but part of me wants to stay at the creek. The kid in me says “Just one more cast. Just a few more minutes”. My mind instantly races back to seining baitfish and setting minnow traps with my dad when I was a boy – I can almost feel the cold, slimy, gray, clay squishing through fingers that I would always play with as a kid in a creek.
I’ve hiked farther up the stream than I realized and by the time I’m back to the car, it’s nearly dark as I stumble up the rocky bank. The insects and peepers are singing their tunes. I smell my left hand and scrunch my nose at the strong fishy odor and grin as I hop in the car and head for home.
- David Hewitt