Along The Trail 5-8-14

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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.

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The woods are greening up, trees budding, leaves popping. There is something new and fresh this time of year. My drive down Antioch Road each morning is always filled with scenery that most take for granted, myself included.

I lose myself on the way to work, thinking about what lies ahead, what needs to be done. Phone calls to make, reports to review, emails to return. I round the bend and approach the bridge spanning Grant’s Creek, like I’ve done a thousand other mornings…

But something catches my eye.

The Ohio has risen and with the rise, Grant’s has backed up into the bottoms. Slow, steady, muddy and warm, it can only mean one thing, the carp will be rolling and spawning once the sun warms the water’s surface. I grin and know where I’ll be this afternoon.

A nice break from chasing turkeys through the woods.

The work day drags by, things are done, business taken care of, but my mind is on the backwaters. I can picture the rough fish rolling and splashing. Finally 4 p.m. and I’m free from the chains of the job. I race home, throw on some old clothes, grab my recurve bow and head to the creek.

I slip in my parking spot, hop the bridge railing and make my way towards the shallows covering a flooded hay field. As far as I can see, the water ripples and splashes with the movement of the big fish. My left hand tightens instinctively on the bow’s grip. The old Shakespeare brand recurve has seen better days. Dents and dings, a few deep scratches from years worth of work. A relic from the early sixties, it still performs well and shoots the heavy fiberglass fishing arrows with a thump.

The water is cool as I silently sneak in up to my knees. I barely lift my feet trying not to spook any of the carp.

Hundreds of fish boil and tail in the water, backs and fins exposing themselves. I make my way closer to a pod of the big minnows and wait for my shot.

A strange combination of two of my favorite activities, hunting and fishing.

A large spawner cruises my way with a passel of “bucks” on her tail, all siding up to her trying to pass on their heritage. Seven fish total surround the sow. Ten or 15-feet from me, I pull the string back and let the arrow go. The water explodes with fish racing all directions. A strong pull on my line lets me know the heavy arrow has struck true.

I wind the old gal in, fighting and tugging hard, the carp puts up a good fight.

I bring her into me and hoist her up. A solid ten pounder, taken squarely just where I had planned. I carry her over to the water’s edge and lay the fish in the grass. Carp generally get no respect from the outdoor world, but they are solid fighters and have a beauty in their own right, the sun bouncing off the over sized silver and gray scales, tail bright orange, almost fluorescent.

While not my list as table fare, I have a friend that will make good use of some of the fish I can take to him.

The next couple of hours play out much the same way and dozens of the mud stirring fish fall victim to well placed shots, but many more swim free and find safety in the deeper water. I gather my haul and hike back to the truck, bogged down by the slippery, slimy carp. A last look over my shoulder, the sun setting for the evening across the shallow water, fish still rippling and roiling the waters surface.

A smile of satisfaction crosses my face.

It’s been a good day.

– David Hewitt