As promised, I am back to report on the neighborhood fishing rivalry. And, up until this morning, I didn't have great news from my dock. That Jerry has been hammering the bass! I hate to admit it, but I have to. When he comes on Friday nights, he barely gets his car parked before he's out on the dock with his fishing pole casting away. His poor wife. The driver's side door is hanging open, and she's staggering in carrying the suitcases and dragging the dog. But, that's not my problem - beating him at fishing is.
The man is a fishing machine. He runs out to the end of his dock, casting to the right, casting to the left, casting straight out. You hear a squeal of delight and then see him pull in a small mouth bass on a rubber worm. He unhooks the fish and releases it, only to cast again. Another squeal, and the process is repeated all over again. I'm beginning to wonder if it's the same fish and if that fish is a slow learner. Probably not, because then he trots over to the other neighbor's dock and does it again. Fish to the right of him, fish to the left of him, fish straight off the end of the dock. It gets a little annoying to watch, if you know what I mean. Nevertheless, I am not congratulating him as the winner - yet!
We have been dock fishing, but not for bass. I want to catch something I can eat, and small mouth bass are not my favorite type of fresh water fish to deep fry. Yellow perch, crappies or calico bass, walleye or blue gills are what I prefer. When I tell people that I like blue gill, some of them crinkle up their noses, but if you can catch ones big enough to fillet, they are a delicious, light, flaky fish. A week or so ago, we had enough in the fish basket to clean and cook - and were they ever good! When kids come to my house, they love to fish off the dock. If they catch some, and if they are big enough, I always cook the fish for them. Most generally, it will be blue gill and perch.
The writer’s “fishing rivalry” continues. Here, her friend Ted shows off his catch of two huge bass in Chautauqua Lake.
Photo by Susan M. Songster-Weaver
We did get the boats in the water last weekend. Company from South Carolina came for a few days, and we spent some time out fishing. The younger ones didn't do that well, but the adults did and had a ball. We were not able to cook the fish before they left, but I know that they will be back to fish again. Hopefully, they will come earlier in the year, when the pan fishing is better. Anyone who has come upon a school of crappies in the spring knows how much fun you can have.
Now, back to this morning's events. I'm finishing up writing this article when I get a phone call. "Hold the presses! Don't send in that story yet!" My friend, Ted, is calling me from his fishing boat. He's up the lake by Colburns and has two huge bass on his stringer. "Aha! I knew we could give Jerry some competition!" I thought to myself. "But I'd better take pictures so he'll believe us - you know how fishermen are!"
On a side note, if you have not been out on Chautauqua Lake yet this year, I want to let you know that the lake conditions are so much better than what we have experienced the last few years in Burtis Bay. We did have some weeds earlier this summer, but they have died down. There are no huge mats of Eurasian Watermilfoil, which have plagued the Bay since the late 1990s. Depending on the direction of the wind, we have been a little green toward shore because of the algae, but that is normal for this time of year. I am not seeing the slicks of dreaded blue-green algae that I have in the past. I don't know if we have the harsh winter, the persistent rains, the lake critters or the hard working shoreline clean-up crews to thank for it - but it's all good. I feel like I have my lake back again! So, now there isn't any reason for you to stay inside. Grab a pole or a kayak and go enjoy the lake. See you on the trails and on the lake!
Susan M. Songster Weaver is a retired teacher, nature lover and longtime CWC volunteer and supporter.
The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local nonprofit organization that is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. For more information, call 664-2166 or visit www.chautauquawatershed.org or www.facebook.com/chautauquawatershed.