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Dan Geddings: A morning on the lake

BY DAN GEDDINGS
Outdoor contributor
Posted 6/7/20

The water was almost as smooth as glass. Occasionally, a series of low swales from the wake of some distant boat would roll through and gently rock us. The air was cool, and there was no wind. A brilliant blue sky arched overhead. The sun was not …

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Dan Geddings: A morning on the lake

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The water was almost as smooth as glass. Occasionally, a series of low swales from the wake of some distant boat would roll through and gently rock us. The air was cool, and there was no wind. A brilliant blue sky arched overhead. The sun was not yet above the tree line along the shore. It was a beautiful morning.

When I finished tying a line on Ginger's bream buster, I handed her the rig and picked up mine. We were just drifting along in a very slow current. Before I could put a cricket on, she had a bream in the boat.

Her laughter surprised me, and I wondered what I had done that was so funny. But I soon realized that she wasn't laughing at me; it was just an outburst of sheer joy. She was catching fish, and it was fun!

We had put in at Packs early Saturday morning. The parking lot was almost full when we got there, and I supposed that the lake would be a little crowded. But it wasn't. The upper lake and swamp is a big place, and there was plenty of room for everyone, with only a few boats in sight.

The lake was calm, but a soft breeze was now putting a slight ripple on the surface of the water. To the east above the tree line, some fluffy white clouds were keeping the summer sun at bay. A wood duck hen called out somewhere nearby.

We had followed the railroad trestle out from the landing, then turned right, down the side of Packs Lake. Ospreys soared around overhead. I happened to look up and see an osprey making a dive; "Look," I whispered and pointed. Ginger looked up just as the big bird snatched a small fish from the water's surface, 20 yards in front of the boat. "Breakfast," I added.

A big flock of white Ibis flew over, headed to some unknown feeding spot farther up the lake, toward Sparkleberry. They sparkled in the early morning light. We saw little green herons and black-crowned night herons fly past, headed to some secret spot.

I was anxious to get started while the open water was still somewhat calm and the sun was not blazing. So, I turned the boat in toward the turnoff to Longpond, shut off the motor and let the boat drift. We started fishing around the lillies and cypress trees.

Ginger had caught the first fish. A hand-sized bluegill. I used one of the paddles to steer and keep us moving back toward the open water. She caught two more, and I hadn't got as much as a nibble yet. I figured it was time to move, and I had a destination in mind.

We motored on up the side of Packs Lake and stopped again at a small island that blocked the breeze and offered some shade, as both were becoming factors now. I lowered the anchor to hold us in position to try a fishy looking spot. But we had no luck and soon pulled the anchor and motored on.

Packs Lake ended just ahead, and Sparkleberry Lake could be seen through a narrow band of cypress and ash trees. It was just what we needed. Calm and shady on the eastern side, toward the heavily timbered Tiller Ridge.

The water was cleaner looking and slightly brown colored, about like a glass of sweet tea. In the sunlight, you could see down several feet below the surface. There was just the slightest hint of a current. I knew this would be the place. I used the paddle to keep us parallel to the shore of the ridge and to keep us moving slowly along. I caught my first fish here, a big Redbreast. What a beautiful fish! We picked up one here and one there, all the way down the lake. Most were bluegills. Ginger was so delighted that she laughed out loud, and I laughed, too.

We threw back all the smaller ones but kept a nice "mess" to take home for supper. We could have stayed all day, but it was getting pretty hot, and we soon headed back to the landing. We vowed to go again, soon.

Email Dan Geddings at cdgeddings@gmail.com.