Footloose and Fancy Free

Surely you remember way back when you were a teen and you had the entire afternoon with nothing to do. Chores were done and dad didn’t get home for another few hours? You were truly foot-loose and fancy-free…and it felt great. Then along came college or a job, kids, bills, more kids, more bills and before you knew it life became very busy.

I have now moved into my era where ‘less is more’! Don’t get me wrong I am still very busy…but more and more I cherish those times when I can literally be on my own…oh, and have very little on my plate, besides fishing. Just recently I found my newest ‘toy’; it’s a small-one person camper that I can tow with me anywhere. I had been looking, reading, etc…for a while and when one popped up, used, in Indy, well, I jumped on it. I can now drive to the lake or stream, fish all day…then spend the night. Spending the night is key because I don’t have to drive home, then get up early the next day just to be back on the water. I fish, go to bed tired and wake up either on the water or just a few minutes away at another lake.
Fly Fishing with Jeff CamperThis summer, specifically the month of June…has seen me with several days to be foot-loose and fancy-free. The freedom to fish and not have to be anywhere at a specific time, well, let’s just say this is a habit I can get used to. Recently I made my way south and west to Greene-Sullivan State Forest where I fished most of the morning; it rained, but it was a ‘soft’ rain and the fishing was fantastic. I made my way back to the truck and decided to venture out and find a new lake I hadn’t fished in many years. I turned out of the lake parking area and onto a small gravel drive that led me down a one-way. What happened next was one of the most special outdoors scenes I have ever been a party to. There before me was a half dozen hen turkeys walking the road; their broods were also on the road. There were chicks of all varying sizes, running, flying, chirping, moving from side to side, trying to find the right mom. All told I would venture a guess that there was close to 50 poults, on the road, standing with the hens, roosting in trees…they were everywhere!

During the day I was able to view more than a dozen hens and all had broods from 3-4 chicks all the way up to one group that had to be close to a dozen. The time I spent just driving slowly, watching nature and fishing a few new lakes was amazing.

The next day I awoke, shuffled off to another lake and started fishing…a few minutes later I heard a sound that no fisherman wants to hear, thunder. If you’ve been there then you know that while fishing you are always optimistic; maybe it will go the other direction, maybe it will blow over-no such luck. Within a few minutes I was kicking my way backwards off of the water as fast as I could; no one wants to be caught in the middle of a lightning storm with two, 9 foot, graphite fly rods attached to a small tube. I made it back to the truck with about 5 minutes to spare; stowed away my gear and watched what became one amazing storm. It looked like a scene from The Weather Channel as a huge super-cell blew up and started to spin, spit lightning and roar its way off to the east. On a normal day I would’ve been bummed or even upset but…then again, I had the entire day to myself.
Bass 1717I eased my way across from the Dugger West Unit to the East Unit and decided to fish Bass Lake…for two reasons, first there wasn’t anyone else on the lake and second, I might just get lucky and hook into a musky? Well, there weren’t any muskies but what I did see while rounding a point in the lake…was quite amazing.

I had been seeing carp breaching all day as they were feeding and rising to the surface. I made a cast and over my shoulder I thought that once again I was watching a carp, but it couldn’t be as it was way too big? Honestly it took me another 30 seconds to figure out that I was watching a deer; she was walking from the mainland to the island that sits in the middle of the lake. Yes, I said walking. What was completely odd looking immediately made sense when I figured out it was indeed a deer. Apparently she had this figured out as a few feet later, there was more and more of the deer…and less and less water actually covering the deer. She knew what she was doing as she walked the land bridge that spanned the gap between shore and island and made her way to her own private island. My day of being on my own had given me two awesome outdoor memories that I won’t soon forget.

OK, so I am still a few, maybe many years from being totally “foot-loose and fancy-free” but my summer isn’t over yet! For me nature takes me to another level. It frees me up, those moments and hours spent kicking around in a float tube, flinging a fly at what are usually unresponsive fish…those moments are golden. Come on along this summer; grab your fishing gear and go find a spot where you too can relax…all while Enjoying the Great Outdoors.

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