Outdoors Column

The first cast was perfect

By Bill Howard | Jul 24, 2014
Photo by: File Bill Howard

The first cast dropped perfectly into the location I was trying for. The offering must have been ideally suited, as the beetle spin immediately took off before I could even begin to reel. A robin, or red-bellied sunfish, struck hard and quickly. The hook was set with a flinch of my wrist and the first battle was on. The micro-lite rod and reel responded with each tug, pull, and dart the fish exhibited. Soon, he was breaking the surface of the water coming into the kayak.
I knew fish would be located here. Several years ago I got permission to take my youngest son fishing in this very spot in order to catch his first fish. Not only were we given permission, but the landowner offered his pink Barbie tackle box to assist in the historic and memorable event. My son did turn down the Barbie box, but he also caught his first fish, much in the way I used to fish the same spot when I was his age.
Silver Lake offered many more memories than just a fishing hole though. This place was a long lost friend.
I paddled down the shoreline that ran parallel with the highway. Just past where the dam ended was a mysterious land for my friends and me decades ago. Once, we were riding our bikes on the embankment, maybe five or six of us. Just as Johnny approached the dam we noticed a tree limb that began to move. Yes, the moccasin was well camouflaged. Although we all got a jolt of adrenaline from coming so close to danger, we were somewhat accustomed to it. Snakes were plentiful all around the lake. We once stood in amazement as a copperhead over 6 feet long and as thick as a grown man’s forearm was beheaded by the men at the Wildlife Club. He was caught at the boat shelters.
On the other side of the embankment a small stream ran from the corner of the lake to the lower waters of the dam. There was a small island in the shape of a triangle there that we called Arrowhead Island. We made camps there, played with army men in the flowing waters, and just generally got away from real life to continue our youth fantasy worlds as explorers and adventurists.
The head water of the stream sprouted from an underground waterfall. Several times we tried to go up into the underground stream. We envisioned a massive river system flowing beneath the earthen layer. It was nowhere near that big. A child’s imagination is a wonderful thing to behold though.
The corner of the lake used to don lily pads as big as a truck tire in circumference. We would toss soft plastic weedless frogs and salamanders on the pads and let them gently slide in. Usually a bite would ensue. My favorite bait was a Mister Twister purple worm with a red wiggly tail. Largemouth loved the spot. Now the pads are gone, but fish beds are plentiful. Panfish ruled the corner now.
Paddling the back side of the lake, I approached the second Wildlife Club’s location. A log cabin used to host the club there. The cabin still stands but is now dressed in ivy and other vines.
The boardwalk and piers still stood as well, though they resembled old bridges from movies where the hero always steps through a rotten board and hangs for his life. My family’s business supplied wood pallets for the makeup of the piers. Lots of volunteer hours were spent in making the club a place of beauty and function.
A hundred yards offshore stands an island of trees. There is no land, just the trunks towering through the water. I spent some time bringing in crappie and shellcracker both as a kid and now as an adult here. I could not help but picture the boat dock busy with boats and kids with their dads. I could almost see Dennis pulling up on his small Chevy pickup anticipating another great day on the lake.
The lake was sharing many stories of our past together.

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