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Last Cast Oct 24 08

“Young man,” laughed the farmer, “you’re sort of a fool!

“You’ll never catch fish in McElligot’s Pool.”

—Dr. Seuss, McElligot’s Pool

I must be crazy to think I’m going to catch fish today. That, or just a fool like Marco, the main character in the Dr. Seuss picture book.

Then again, I really don’t expect to catch a thing. I may hope to, but that’s different from actually believing—on this chilly, bright day near the end of October, with a stiff breeze sending miniature wavelets against the scalloped edges of old lily pads—that I stand a virtue’s chance in Vegas of actually hooking a fish. Not on a day like today with a skill level like mine.

No, I’m really here to say good-bye. Good-bye to fishing for the year. Good-bye to warm-weather activities, as autumn wanes into the short days and long months of another Michigan winter. Here in this small park in my hometown of Caledonia, surrounded by pied maples, I stand at the edge of both Emmons Lake and the first snowfall, preparing to make my last cast of the season.


My lure slices sideways through the breeze, which catches and carries it toward the edge of the lily pads. It’s a bit dicey casting across these southeasterly gusts, but that’s part of the package of fishing on a fall day.

I retrieve my lure without so much as a nibble—in that expectation, I am not disappointed—and cast again. If anything in my tackle box has a hope of producing, this is the lure. It’s the one favored by my buddy, Big Jim Borreson—a white-and-chartreuse, shallow-water lure that never seems to fail him. There’s nothing scientific about ol’ Jim’s approach. I don’t know why he even bothers to bring the rest of his fishing tackle with him, as he never uses anything other than this one lure, and apparently doesn’t need to. We’ll be out on a lake, casting toward the weeds, and I’ll be throwing everything under the sun into the water with no results, other than tiny bubbles rising to the surface where the fish are laughing themselves silly. Meanwhile, Jim will proceed to haul in mule-sized bass as methodically as if he’s on an assembly line. That’s the power of this white-and-chartreuse lure. It borders on the miraculous.

Today, though, even the miracle lure seems to have lost its pizazz. I move down the shore a bit, try a different spot. Here…maybe by these reeds.

Swiiiiiish…splut! Retrieve…

Then again, maybe not.

Nope, a change of location isn’t going to do it. But that’s okay. It’s enough that I’m outdoors, taking in the freshness of the air, the brilliant blue of the October sky, the silhouette of dark reeds against cobalt waters. This is a good day, a very good day.

And it is time.


Last cast.

I can feel the lure wriggling through the water, catching at the bottom as it nears the shore. I guide it through remnant clumps of old algae, lift the tip of my pole, and bring in the miracle lure minus its miracle. It will not touch Michigan waters again this year.

But beyond the snow and ice of the coming months, next year beckons. It will be a good one—I just know it. Somewhere out there is a miracle bass that missed its opportunity this year. But I believe in second chances.




Written by Dave.