Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mini-Sargasso

The humidity hung in there on Monday. The kayak was loaded up, and I was headed out in the afternoon. En route I decided the destination would be Fitzgerald Lake, for a little paddling and maybe a couple casts. I made a quick stop at Dave's Pioneer Sporting Center for some night crawlers on the way...



I've never been in there before, but I have noticed the various displays Dave prominently puts out front, on the edge of Damon Road. It's usually a mannequin, dressed in the heighth of the season's hunting or fishing fashion. But today it was a big wooden fish cut-out at the side of the road, with a fishing rod and line hooked to it's mouth. Good omen, I thought...

I parked at the North Farms Road entrance to the Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area. To get a canoe, kayak, or other watercraft onto the lake, you have to huff it for a little ways down the trail, and then down a long wooden walkway, to a small dock at the end. It's not really far, but juuust far enough, where I was beginning to think I wasn't going to make it, without having to put the thing down and rest. But putting the kayak down and picking it up again would have been an even bigger strain, and time consuming, so I gritted my teeth and trudged on, swinging the kayak around and switching shoulders a few times...



It was a bit of a workout, but at last I made it. Getting ready to launch, it seemed the water on Fitzgerald Lake was kind of low, but maybe it was just that the grasses were so incredibly high. Launching from the dock required navigating through a particularly narrow opening through the grass.



And just breaking clear of the tall grasses, a morass of vegetation as far as can be seen, suddenly surrounds the craft.



Sargasso Sea. I don't know why, but that name has always stuck with me, ever since I first heard of it in the fourth grade reading about Columbus' voyage. A vast sea of mucky vegetation. Add dead winds, and sailors went mad...

The madness might have taken this unfortunate fellow, as he risked standing up in his little boat...but I suppose the thick weeds made the boat more stable for standing.



After pushing against the vegetation, rather than paddling, I finally found a kind of pathway. It was like a trail through the woods, in a watery sort of way.



The lilly pads, and clouds of gel-like eggs that coated the perimeters of the water trail, had made the water below appear black, for lack of light.





One thing I didn't see was any Water Chestnut. The invasive species was recently the focus of a couple volunteer efforts over the past couple years, to rid the lake of the pesky weed...

Following the water trail for a bit, it finally opened into a much more rewarding, wide open paddling environment. The wind also happened to pick up at this point, and pushed me northeast, exactly where I want to go, to the far end of the lake. There is a small dam there, and I let the wind push me right up against the bank. I cast out a night crawler, and leaned back to enjoy some of the waining summer sun, and some peace and quiet...

High up above, Swifts and Swallows swirled around in a dogfight of epic proportions.



Closer to Earth, a Blue Heron slowly gained speed and altitude, as it lifted off for new hunting grounds.



Just over my shoulder, a dragonfly hung on tight to a cattail; waiting for the latest gusts to subside.



Just then came a tug, tug, at the end of the fishing line. Reflexively I gave it a strong tug back, and the rod bent over, and the line moved across the water. Aaaah, Got one..!



I reeled it in after a short fight and admired the catch for a minute. Setting the fish free and reaching for another night crawler to bait the hook again., I pulled out this poor guy, who must have seen what happened to his cousin...setting his stomach in knots...



The night crawlers definitely did their duty today, as I then reeled in a small bass, and four bluegill/pumpkinseed type fish; kind of large for their type, but no trophy catches. Still, I was hooking them often enough to keep myself happily preoccupied. I'd used to occasionally take home what I caught, and miserably destroy the fish as I attempted to cook or fry it. But I haven't done that lately. I probably will again, but for now there's a lot of talk against eating them. Are the fish really dangerous to eat? I don't know... You decide. Either way it's a real chore to scale, gut and cook them...This much I know for sure.

The sun was dropping low, and before I knew it, it was time to head back in...



I made my way back up the water trail, and was back in home port in no time.





The peaceful, (well, not for the fish), kayak outing worked, and a sense of relaxation had fallen over me. But now...time to lug the kayak back. Oof. Back to reality...

4 comments:

Mary E.Carey said...

Feels like we just dropped into Huckleberry Finn for a lazy summer afternoon.

Tony said...

Rather more like Tom Sawyer neglecting his fence painting duties...

maloccludedmom said...

This looks very much like the place where my mother, or her ashes, now resides. If you liked this trip, try the Basher Kill in upstate New York. My father took my mother there every evening at sunset for a canoe ride while she was alive. It is beautiful in its quietude and its otherworldliness. I hope you will go there and enjoy it.

Tony said...

Thank you for the tip...I just looked up a website for it:

http://www.thebashakill.org/bkgallery/

it looks beautiful, perhaps I'll incorporate a visit into a trip out to the Catskills at some point...