by Shawn Strasburg
“Somebody caught a couple nine pound walleyes.” That was all that was needed to finally motivate me to dust off the fishing poles for the year. I had been contemplating a fishing trip for the last month, it wasn’t that I had better things to do, it was I had things I had better do. But when I heard that story and that they caught the fish only a mile from my house at the tail race, I decided it was time to throw the dice.
For those of you that do not know the location of the tail race, it is between Cody Go Carts and the north campus. You drive north along the canal and generally fish between where the water spills down the rocks and flows into the South Platte River.
Fishing is a lot like gambling. It is generally a waste of money, nearly everybody brags about the elusive prize, and evidenced by the trash on the ground, smoking and drinking abound. I was neither drinking, nor smoking, but I was after that one in ten thousand fish. I have only caught a few master angler fish and that seems to be the odds, but their scarcity seldom deters me.
Not knowing exactly how the fish were caught I grabbed any tackle I thought would work, two poles and three dozen minnows. The air was warm, the sun was shining, and I had that little giddy feeling that today was the day. I parked beside five other vehicles and wormed my way between a few anglers. Now, I never appreciate when another angler saddles up too near me, so I gave them a fair half cast distance.
Remembering an old co-workers advice to “drift a minnow over the rocks”, I tied on a hook, put a bobber up two feet, and added a weight for good measure. I wrestled a minnow out of the bucket and cast out and let it churn it’s way down stream. I repeated this at varying distances, sure that I would have Mr. wall hanger soon.
Then my neighbor downstream came alive, whooping and hollering, while his pole made an inverted u. Of course I had to watch as he danced and fought and came up with at least a six pound walleye. On the next cast I caught one of the more common species of concrete. With my line busted off, and spying that he had on a white lure, I commenced to tie on absolutely everything white that I could drag out of my tackle box.
For the next 90 minutes I cast and reeled, determined to catch a big fish, but only managed to deposit more and more tackle on the bottom of the canal. My lucky neighbor even offered advice, “Tie on a polly.” I am still unsure what a “polly” is. Yet he caught another fish with his lure and unfortunately lost it after another elaborate show of dancing and hollering.
By supper time one of my reels was broken and I had lost all of the line off of the other pole. The canal was at least sixty dollars richer and I was cold and hungry. I left with my head hanging low determined not to waste any more money on this bad habit of fishing. And I held steadfast to that promise for two whole days, until the fishing fever returned and I once again thought I had a chance at the big one.