Barefoot Ramble

As sorry as I always am to see Summer slipping away, I must admit that early Autumn is a spectacular time of year. The days are warm now, rather than hot, and growing shorter. This starts the cooling of the waters, and these signals tell almost everything in Nature to move or shift tactics. It’s migration time for many, time to beat tail for those faraway winter quarters. Others stay put, but start their dormancy preparations. The new crispness in the air renews energy. As a fisherman, I relish the start of the Fall feeding and migration runs.

Today was just one of those Beauties. I headed off to a favorite Beach along a small Bay in the Lower Chesapeake to catch the change of the mid-day Tide. Intercepting some Trout as they gang up to sample the pre-migration smorgasbord, but mostly, enjoying the Day, was my plan of action. Warm and Sunny, with a moderate breeze, it was a great day to leave the shoes in the car and meander down the Beach a ways to a likely spot.

Stayed a few hours, wading mostly knee deep in the still warm waters, soaking up the Rays and just giving myself to Nature and enjoying all of her intertwined delicacies. The small baitfish were the key to the scene, they’re food for everybody. Gathering in ever larger schools, mullet and menhaden prepare to run the gauntlet down the Coast, as the predators gather to stock up on the proteins and fats they’ll need for their migrations. A big part of the day’s pleasure was watching the parade of bait assembling and leaving their Summering Grounds, heading to the Ocean, to turn south towards the warmer winter waters.

A Parade of Moments. Wading and casting, waiting for the right stage of the Tide to turn the fish on. Ospreys glide by, hauling their catches back to the nests for lunch. A few Kingfishers let loose with their high-pitched chatters, celebrating their success. It was mesmerizing, watching a pod of dolphin glide through the channel, sleek black backs and hooked fins slipperyin’ through the surface and back down again. It was one of those Moments that lets you know that you’re Doing Life Right.

A sharp tug on my line brought me quickly back into focus, and I enjoyed the spirited fight of a nice Speckled Trout. Carefully, I worked him back to shore and slid him up onto the sand. My Inner Artist reveled in the sight of the glistening wet fish throwing out a prism of reflected colors in the strong Sunlight. I knelt to subdue the fish and remove the hook, enjoying all the flashes and tints playing over it’s scales and spots. Those beautifully bold colors and patterns actually serve as camouflage in the watery world of mirrored light that they inhabit.

It was time to head back. Standing there barefoot and dripping, at the edge of the water, I looked up at the incredibly blue Sky over the magnificent green Pines. It was a moment for drinking deeply of the Essence of another Wonderful Day in the Woods and Waters. Gear in hand, as I always make sure to do, I turned to the Waters and thanked them for the Beauty, for the Fish for dinner, but mostly for the Opportunity to just Be There. Then, I smiled at the Sky and the Pines and walked the half mile back to the car. Barefoot… Enjoying every step.


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