It was a trip of timing really. In order to do the father-son annual trip to the Maumee river to catch some eyes we needed a weekend when the kids could be watched and school wasn't in session for either my dad or me. Once the date was picked the travel and gear grabbing left the date in concrete and as the date approached I wished it were in more of a soft clay. The cold front rolled in and stayed, paired up with freezing rain all week, and a pretty lousy batch of no-visibility, cold water fishing was planted. The river had just received an ice beat-down and the quick warm rain caused a lot of thaw and river levels to rise. The temp never really got anywhere in the spawning range for walleyes so I knew we had to be spot on in presentation, location and tackle and luck to bring something ashore. Saturday morning, off we go.
The crowd wasn't much so that was the first initial win, but staring at the remnants of high water and scarred ice-pelted trees clued me into the river conditions of last week and why most of the locals weren't there. We started the morning out determining our presentation depth against the force of the river and the jagged bottom. 7 of my jig heads still remain on the murky bottom next to side-cut park. Fished for 3 hours from sunrise on and not a nibble. After some banter and talk the light hearted discussions started to give way to more tactical fish based strategies. It was time for lunch. Burger King and a couple rodeo burgers (These burgers are the cream of the crop in BK!) lead us into switching locations and put the "monkey see monkey do" strategy on deck. If someone is catching... lets ask about, or just spy their tackle. Turned out the only jig hitting was a white twisty-tail rubber jig, fished pretty low, a whisker from the bottom.
I had seen the light. First my fishing neighbor 30 yards to my right had landed one. I casually glanced over like it was no big deal but in conditions like we had that guy was my hero for the next 30 minutes. Spattered throughout the next 3 hours I saw 2 more fish hauled in by the guy 30 yards to my left. Hitting on the left side, same color and pattern for all. I flailed that white jig late into the afternoon and then bid farewell to it as I made my latest snag. No more white jigs in my box. I switched to a chartreuse and as we got to our departure time the realization of skunk started to stink in the air. I wasn't going to land a fish that day. I knew these days existed and had been waiting my turn for quite some time. Not because I think I'm an excellent angler, I've just been lucky.
On the last cast of day the realization set in, and I accepted it. That skunk looked me in the eye and I nodded in affirmation. On the ride home we discussed the strategy of the day and talked about what we saw and learned, usual post fishing trip talk. The skunk in the back seat didn't make much of a sound, in fact I realized that I enjoyed the whole day.
The cold and wet muddiness of it all was smeared into a smile across my face, but I found my skunk and made peace with it.
I don't ever welcome the skunk on my fishing trips but who am I to shove the guy out into the cold?
The taste of defeat isn't as bad as you might think. The real positive is not only what I learn success or not, but I feel affirmed that maybe the success I've found before wasn't just luck after all. You can't land fish everyday, sometimes you have to deal with the skunk, take it pridefully, your doing your turn as some other guy is lucking out of his mind somewhere else. Fishing Karma.
Robbie is the creator of WF and loves to spend time in the outdoors chasing steelhead, upland birds, and the beauty of nature.
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