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Gone Fishing

By Diane DeVaughn Stokes

That was his mistake because by the end of the day I had caught fourteen bream and two decent sized catfish, and he did not catch anymore.

After seven crazy weeks in the house avoiding personal contact with the outside world except to visit our moms daily, Chuck and I were more than ready for an adventure. By now the beaches were all open, but we wanted to do something we had not done in ages to perk our withering spirits. We decided to check out our fishing poles and gear, which had collected spider webs in our garage for fifteen years, to see if we could get our act together.

Chuck rigged up our cane poles with new line, bobbers and hooks, and even rigged up one of our fishing rods in case we spotted an area that looked like a good home for bass. Then he tried to find a bait shop open in Myrtle Beach with no luck. However Google sent him to Stalvey’s in Conway where he purchased crickets and worms. Unfortunately in his excitement Chuck forgot to bring our mini cricket cage with him, and the employee laughed and said, “Well what do you want me to put the crickets in?” Chuck, feeling a wee bit embarrassed, had to purchase a new one.

Meanwhile, I packed the picnic basket with a jug of iced tea and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Oh no, not just any ordinary peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. These were made with strawberry preserves and Jif Peanut Butter stacked thickly on Hawaiian Rolls. But let’s face it; even cat poop on top of those delicious sweet rolls would be a fabulous feast.

We put a sign on our front door for laughs that said, “GONE FISHING!” The day was gorgeous, and we set out to a friend’s farm at 9am, even though we knew that most avid fisher-folks (my gender correct word) would have been up and out by 6am. Forget about it! That’s too much like going to work. As we unloaded our gear, we realized there were several areas to fish. We started in a channel off the Intracoastal Waterway, but not a single bite. However, waving at people in their boats as they passed by made us feel like we were back in the human race again having been locked away for almost two months due to the pandemic.

Then we moved to a nearby farm pond where I caught the first fish. It was a small bream but it got my adrenaline going. Then I caught two more before poor Chuck caught any. Finally he caught two and realizing they were all so small, he decided to fish for bass the rest of the day. That was his mistake because by the end of the day I had caught fourteen bream and two decent sized catfish, and he did not catch anymore. Needless to say this was a catch and release day for us. Even if they had been bigger, I could not have brought them home to eat like I used to be able to do when I was a younger fisherwoman. I think the older you get and the closer you come to death, you realize even more the sanctity of life for all living things. Frankly for the first time ever, I felt guilty putting the hook through the worm and the cricket! Yet, we had a blast doing something out of the box and being outdoors while still social distancing and being safe.

However, just as we were packing up the fishing gear in the golf cart, which our friend allowed us to borrow to traipse around the farm, we heard a “thud!” Something hit the top of the golf cart and bounced on the ground. I rushed over to see what it was and there lying stunned on the ground was the most beautiful bird I had ever seen. Most of you know I am a bird-lover and bird-watcher, but I had never seen anything like this. The Painted Bunting locally, and many birds in Costa Rica, have taken my breath away but here before us was a yellow bird with a lime green band of feathers and blue-gray wings. She was stunning. Chuck took some photos of her as she remained stunned and then rubbed her head and belly. Magically she opened her eyes and just watched us as we watched her. I talked softly to her and promised not to leave her until she was able to fly again. There was no way I was leaving her on the ground to be eaten by a predator!

Ten minutes later she stood up, not appearing to be frightened by us. She hopped around a bit, and then flew to the limb of a tree right above my head. I continued to talk to her and took more photos for the next twenty minutes. She just kept posing and seemed to enjoy the interaction with me. But when I told her Chuck was getting antsy and ready to go, and I had to say goodbye, she nodded her head as if she totally understood me and flew away. And I started to cry. I knew what just happened was a gift given by one of God’s most spectacular creatures. One I will treasure forever.

When I arrived home, I headed straight to my bird book to identify the species of my new friend. She was a Prothonatary Warbler and even though we were not FLY fishing, our best catch of the day was surely FLYING once again! Gotta love Nature.

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