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The quietness is staggering, no one is anywhere near the saltpond, and there are feeding fish. I wonder where the fishermen are?
The Spring is a special time for fishermen for it is a time of rebirth. It is the time when there are hot days and cool nights, when the wind quickly alternates between East-Northeast and West-Southwest and back again. There seems always to be a perpetual haze where the earth and the sea and the sky meet and that haze sometimes is dark but mostly it is light. It's a time when fishermen are out fishing, others are working on their boats, and a some are scouting out their terrain to see what damage the winter has done.
I decided today that I would shirk all other responsibilities and go and see what is going on in some areas near Boston where I live. I hadn't been down to them since the end of Extended Goose Season last February so I set forth to hit the areas at low tide. I drove down to Quincy and saw the saltwater pond off of the Neponset River. It is a good early season small fish spot and it used to be an even better late season duck spot. The Nursing Home plans evidently came to fruition and the foundation has long since been poured and the rough framing is complete. I will no longer fish or hunt in those areas and will instead dwell on the memories, particularly of a flight of teal at Christmas.
Around the corner heading towards Thompson's Island is a little back bay that is worse for the wear. The Winter Nor'easters have filled in the bay and it will be useless for fishing, even on a Spring Tide. The sand spit juts out further now, and the current will be negligible. There is some eelgrass that is growing up pretty quickly and if all goes well this spot has the potential for some great duck and brant gunning. Like the tide, today is an ebb-and-flow kind of day. They all are, in fact, this one just seems to be grouped more closely together.
I drive down Wolloston Beach towards Black's Creek and the salt pond behind. The beach is a typical beach scene. There are a few clam shacks that will open for business any day now. A couple of guys are working on a six-pack and waxing down a couple of cherry muscle cars. One is an orange GTO in mint condition and it reminds me of my neighbor Jeff who lived on the other side of the cow pasture some 30 years ago. I sit at a light and watch these guys working hard on their cars and pause occasionally to check out some good-looking girls roller blading by. The light changes and I drive slowly working the beach in my own way.
There is a cluster of birds by the yacht club and one tern is working hard. The gulls are sitting on the water watching the tern at work. He flies up and down the beach looking, looking, but he does not pause and his wings do not skip a beat. Further down the beach, the muscle bed is fully exposed. It seems like you could almost walk to Hangman's Island, though you never could get that far, but it seems like you could. The water is flat, the sun is opaque, the wind is slight southwest, and there are big flocks of brant everywhere.
I pull over and get out of my truck and watch. It's got to be in the mid-80's and with no wind it seems like it's near 100. I watch the seam around the end of the muscle beds and a fish rolls on the surface. I watch for another ten minutes and I see another splash, then a tail. All gets quiet for a time long enough for my shirt to start to soak up my sweat and I think back to a lot of years ago in mid-August when Al and I stood out here against our better judgement and saw no fish break except when they thrashed on the end of our lines. Today looked like it would be one of those days and if I had a rod with me and if I called up Al I bet we would get into them big time.
I ditch my shoes and socks, throw my shirt and wallet in the truck and head over to check out the saltpond. There is a marsh that I have to cross and were it any time of the year except for the early season I would wear shoes to keep my feet from getting cut on the broken stalks. But now everything is smooth from the winter, the stalks are trampled down from the heavy snow and ice, and there is smoke pouring from the marsh as if it were on fire.
I check out the mosquito ditches and the mummies are packed in tight. They scurry away as mummies always do when a fisherman approaches and the ground is hot. I stick my feet in and sink them into the mud. The water is warm, very warm, but down deep the mud is cold. I tug out my feet and there is a wafting smell of marsh that anyone who has spent time in a marsh knows well. I leave the mud on my feet and walk towards the pond.
A lot has changed. There are a few deeper guzzles that weren't there before and a few long shallow areas where sand and mud has deposited. The sun is hot now and I can feel that my skin is starting to tighten and burn. I sit down and watch along these new areas and make note of where they are on land. I can line up one between the bridge and the phone pole, another by the third ditch and the picnic table across the pond, and so forth. This information will be critical later in the season and it's good to make note of it now.
About 15 feet from where I am sitting a fish rolls. This fish was not like the ones in the bay, it is better. It's back is thick, it moves deliberately, and it pushes a lot of water. It is a good fish, I think, and now I wish I had my rod for I'd rifle out a cast just in front of him and see what happens. It's good that I don't because I now notice another fish about ten feet away pushing water and two more fish in front of them slapping around like they're crushing a herring. The quietness is staggering, no one is anywhere near the saltpond, and there are feeding fish. I wonder where the fishermen are?
I laugh at myself because it's funny that I hadn't thought of it before, but where are they? Maybe they are waiting for stories of blitzing fish and fish-per-cast outings, but there are fish here waiting to be caught. Maybe they drove down to the early season spots on the Cape or the Vineyard and drove past these fish trying to get to Route 3. Chances are very good at hooking a big bass right now but no one is here.
Perhaps they are waxing down their cars, checking out pretty girls or mowing the lawn but they should be out here. I think about it for a while and can't come up with any answers so there is nothing left to do.
I dive in.© 2001 Tom Keer