Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Big Fish, Beaches & Bloody Knees
This past weekend the wife and I took a quick trip to Flyfishmagazine.com's North Myrtle Beach, S.C. branch office for a little rest and relaxation. The weather was absolutely great with temps running in the 70's and the beaches relatively uncrowded. This trip I was anxious to show off my skills for the wife so I managed to sneak along the salt water set up and got in a bit of what amounted to casting practice, while my beautiful bride renewed her interest in photography. Not much in the way of catching fish but my casting arm got a workout and I was able to practice something a blueline trout angler rarely gets to practice, a double haul.
The next day we drove further North to the Cherry Grove area with the plan of wading some of the salt marshes that boarder the intercoastal waterway. As soon as we arrived I could see schools of baitfish being busted in the shallows by what I imagined to be some sort of big predator. I gathered up my gear and hurried into the marsh. I have caught bluefish on the fly before and was excited at the prospects of fighting one or maybe even casting to a tailing redfish.
I picked my way along the muddy edge of the marsh trying to get into position to cast into one of the many boils. It was then that I saw the pressure wave of what seemed to be a very large fish cruising the shallows about 75 feet in front of me. Rather than make an immediate long (and for me questionable) cast I hastily decided to try to move into a better position. I looked down and saw a flat spot of shells and mud about 2 feet below me. It looked pretty solid so I took the plunge and suddenly found myself with both legs thigh deep in sucking, sulfur smelling, marsh mud. I contemplated attempting a cast from this position but the thoughts of impending high tide and bleached bones drying in the South Carolina sun made me turn my attention to escaping my predicament. Easy enough I thought. Just work your way out slow. Wiggle left then right and out pops one leg then the other. Leave the shoes behind if need be. No problem at all, or so I thought.
It seems this muddy spot had once been the home of an extended family of oysters. When they moved away they left their razor sharp shells embedded in what I now was thinking might be my own muddy tomb. Every mud escaping wiggle of my leg caused a painful gash in my once pristine appendages. "Oh well, my legs never really looked that great anyway," I thought as I painfully used the marsh grass to pull myself up and out of the muck. Once extricated, now dirty, and bloodied, I started back towards the parking area. Along the way I saw another fish and proceeded to wade out into the salt water to attempt at a half hearted cast. As the mud washed away from my legs I was reminded that salt water on open cuts really stings. I decided to go get my bloody stinging legs cleaned up and fish another day. Worse than the stinging cuts was having to recount the story to my less than impressed spouse. I thought about telling her that I was attacked by a school of tiny shark but took the high road and fessed up to what really happened. As I climbed into the car, the sulfur smell of the mud must have been pretty bad as she remarked, "that really stinks." At that particular moment she had no idea just how correct she was.