View Full Version : 'Tis (Almost) The Season

09-13-2010, 01:33 PM
Well, the hunters are getting themselves ready. They’re like kids at Christmas.
Teal season, dove season, squirrel season…I can smell the gun oil on my pals, and discern the bright eye of autumn in their pupils.
For me, it’s coming up on creek season.
Ah, autumn! The days are shorter, and the longer nights provide better dissipation of the heat in the water. The little spotted bass on the sandy, gravel-bottomed creeks are going to be coming up soon, leaving their cooler, deep pools and searching for lunch.
Creek season. I never knew there was such a thing until about five years ago. A bayou and swamp boy, I only knew of creeks from the movies, and had no real appreciation for them. Not until I first put my feet into one and realized that was what I had been missing all my life.
Creek fishing has turned me from a minor-to-moderate miscreant into a full-fledged, Grade A No 1 USDA-inspected Reprobate. I admit it freely.
There is no ten-point program for my disorder. I am careless and preternaturally consumed by the thought of fall, cool air, cool water and creeks.
Harry Middleton asked his grandfather, Emerson, to teach him to fly fish:
“Have you really thought this through?” Emerson asked, his words thick as though coated with molasses. “Again, I say, look at us…look at the way we live. Take a good, long look. These are the rewards of an outdoor life, son, sad and paltry as they are. Take up the fly rod and the shotgun, and before you know it, you’re an outcast, a social leper, rejected by your family, despised by your neighbors, mistrusted by your community. Unaware that your soul is quite safe, in the best of company, your church will pity you, pray mightily for your redemption from this hideous sin. The final question is, should any man turn his back on ambition, profit, security and a parking place in the city just to pursue fish?
“And look at Elias Wonder. Yeah, take a gander at that buzzard. Forty years ago he was happy, generous, charitable, tall, dark and handsome. Then he took up the fly rod. Now consider him. Uglier than fresh road kill. Evil-eyed, cantankerous, sullen, mean. An anti-social misfit that causes a groundswell of spleen wherever he goes.”
Yes, that’s it exactly. Once I was a wannabe Yuppie (Young Urban Professional). Having failed miserably at that, I became a Yuffie (Young Urban Financial Failure) and not long after that threw everything to the wind and became a fish bum.
My heroes used to be Ed Murrow, Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Breslin. Now they’re fish bums mostly.
I got responsibilities out the ears, little cash, even less time, but it’s creek season! Suzie’s going to kick me to the curb if I don’t finish the new bathroom I started building for her three years ago. My dog’s going to forget who I am and bite me. I may end up unemployed. But…it’s creek season!
Almost creek season, actually. A couple more weeks of cooling, and it will be. If it warms up considerably again, you can set the clock back a bit and I’ll sink into a depression deeper than Karen’s Pool on Starlight Creek.
“There comes a time in every man’s life when he is either going to go fishing or do something worse,” Havilah Babcock wrote. I could be a drinker. I could be a gambler. I could be a thief, a liar or a politician. I could have any number of horrid compulsions. But my worst vice is fly fishing.
Babcock might have said, “…or do something better…” but there is nothing better than creek fishing in creek season, sorry. A night at the opera? Please. A pleasure cruise? Eek. Any of the normal social posturing and maneuvering upon which so many of us establish our positions and our identities? In a pig’s eye, for sure.
I can’t help myself. It’s a character flaw. For want of a creek, the kingdom was lost!
Truth be known, I have been working on my old house for 12 years now. I am less than half done. That’s because I tend to work on it for a few months then go fishing, for two, three years. You can’t get much done that way. But like the hapless werewolf victim who survives the lycanthrop’s attack, I am transformed not by the full moon but by the tug of autumn, the turn of the leaves. All sanity leaves me. All dignity, duty and diligence flee.
Creek season! Ah, could it be so soon, this early? I hate to even hope that it is. It feels like creek season. It smells like creek season. I am getting as scatterbrained and distant as I do when it’s creek season. Something must be happening.
Hey, whatever floats your boat, you know? I ain’t high-falootin’. Could be golf, could be football. Might be anything that makes you crazy. For me, it’s creek season, when I can make my way back up to those slump-shouldered hills north of here and, as Harry said, “find some stretch of bright water, full of possibilities, including the possibility of trout, perhaps one that, when hooked, will haul me in and out of time, in and out of life’s mysterious and frightening, wondrous and incomprehensible continuum, even to the edges of the universe.”
Except for me it’s little spotted bass and pumpkinseed perch.
You can’t imagine how I look longingly for it all summer and all winter. Spring creek season is just as achingly sought after.
What’s out there? Well, it isn’t just fish and fishing. Folks that can’t quite figure out that by now probably won’t.
Out there, in and on and through and around the creeks and hills, my troubles fall away like the leaves tugged down by autumn; out there, my shoulders unknot and my back relaxes; the creases in my brow smooth again, and I swear by jumpin’ Jehoshaphat, my hair quits falling out, my vision gets better by at least a diopter or two, and my waist line quits expanding. No foolin’.
“Here I am fact rather than parenthesis,” said Roth Comers Tewksbury, a financier, of the Smokies, to Harry. Oh, well said, Roth, well said indeed.
I’ve only a narrow window. From after Labor Day weekend to the first weekend of October when squirrel season starts and the hunters take over the hills on weekends. The creeks are calling, and I am like a starving sailor on a windless sea, hearing the siren’s call.
I can think of little else. When I close my eyes, I see clear, cool water, white sand bars, sandstone terraces and fractured rock, smoothed gravel. I dream of the little creeks north of here and wake feeling saturated with spring water.
All right. Enough. I’ve went on long enough. Look for me when you see me coming, and if you don’t see me…well, you know where I’ll be!

09-14-2010, 08:49 AM
Excellent. I've never visited your creeks in person, but now I've been there.

I read your piece and last night I dreamed of my own autumn, October and early November shuffling through falling leaves to the little lakes where brook trout cruise the shallow water near the shore.

erics beetle
09-14-2010, 09:49 AM
[quote="rstouff"] my troubles fall away like the leaves tugged down by autumn; out there, my shoulders unknot and my back relaxes; the creases in my brow smooth again, and I swear by jumpin’ Jehoshaphat, my hair quits falling out, my vision gets better by at least a diopter or two, and my waist line quits expanding. No foolin’.

Brilliant and very well written. Wish I had a creek season this side of the big puddle...I suppose we have Grayling season but I have to say that creek season sounds bloody good....


09-14-2010, 10:51 AM
Much appreciated.
There are few such creeks in Louisiana, just a mere handful. And summer is hard on them. And on me! :)