“April is the cruelest month.” — T.S. Elliot.
ROCKFORD — So was old T.S. a fisherman? If so, I’m with him. April can be tough on an angler.
We arrived at the banks of the Rogue River a good hour before sunrise and there were already two trucks parked where we were going when we pulled in. My partner, Al “Jigman” Dakin, said he recognized one truck and after we waded across the river and made our way to the holes we planned to mine, he found he knew the other guy, too. We rigged up, under the light of headlamps, and waited to start fishing until there was enough light so we could see our bobbers. We fished with small jigs — Dakin, an iron worker and sometimes fishing guide builds his own because he’s never found a small commercially made jig with a hook strong enough to hold a steelie, he said — and wax worms. It was a typical drill: Cast it out, let it float downstream, reel it in, repeat.
After a half hour or so, Richard Heiss (the guy in the truck Dakin recognized) saw his bobber go down, struck, and wrestled with a bright hen. Dakin waded out past a downed log, and the fellow steered the fish into Dakin’s landing net. A nice fish.
A short time later, Heiss struck again, but this time the battle lasted mere moments before the line broke.
We’d collectively run the baits through that hole 100 times before the first bite and probably another 25 before the second. And both times the same guy hooked up. How does that figure? That’s fishing.
It was cold — in the 20s — with a steady wind that at times gusted enough that you had to brace yourself against it. Shouldn’t it be spring by now? That’s the thing about April. Many years (if not most) those fish would be up on gravel by now. Still, we were catching them in holes deep enough to float your hat.