It was to be the first outing of the trout fishing season. My new "birding" hobby had somewhat detracted from a lifelong love of troutfishing the previous summer. This year, I was determined to find a reasonable compromise between the two interests. I would do the fishing thing on cloudy days, when the fish were more active and go birding on those bright sunny days, when the birds were busy and me and Baron, my GSD, could tromp the woodland trails, binoculars and camera in hand.
The day seemed perfect. Mid sixties in temp, with a heavy overcast and little or no wind. I headed off to the Root River, east of Forestville State Park. It was one of my favorite "home waters." A place where I could usually count on success. Sometimes great success. Mr. Baron was left behind that day, as his love of romping in the water was bound to scare my off my prey. Parked along the gravel road, I headed across a plowed corn field towards the stream. It was in the tree line about a quarter of a mile away.
Watching my footing on the uneven ground, something caught my attention. I looked up and a mature Bald Eagle was heading straight for me. Startled, I raised my hand in protection but the seemingly huge bird soared over me by maybe thirty feet. Relieved, I watched it gain altitude and it turned behind me and headed off to some cottonwoods lining the river bank. It was then that I saw the new nest. A new pair of Eagles had made a home right above my favorite fishing hole. I circled away from the nest after taking a picture with my little "fishing camera" and settled down on the bank to rest and see what was going on. This is the moment when a trout fisherman takes stock. Are there any hatches going on? Are the fishing rising? What kind of rises? How clear is the water after the recent rains? Actually what caught my attention was a large number of small birds, mostly warblers, flitting among the shrubs and trees on the opposite bank. I strained to identify them, but they were just a little too far away. I couldn’t see the details. Where were my binoculars when I really needed them???
A flyfisherman carries all his stuff with him. Pants pockets and a vest are filled with a myriad of vital items to meet all contingencies, ranging from hooks, flies, and Vaselene floatant to tippets and a snakebite kit. No room for birding field guides and binoculars though. Darn!!!
It was some time before I noticed the trout rising upstream below a riffle in the river. Looking downstream the eagle pair were looking quite settled and domestic. One stood guard, the other on the nest. Perhaps they had finished their fishing for the day. Time for me to start......