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These are strange times indeed

Is it just me or does the world seem a bit tilted? This virus, the hot weather, the unusual amount of rain have all resulted in life rearrangement it seems. The most visible occurrence for me is that I have caught more fish this spring/summer than I can recall for several years. I didn’t fish very much after my best fishing buddy passed away, but this year I have some new exciting eager fishermen to share time with and we are doing it with gusto.

We have night-fished at Cedar Bluff a few times and have cleaned some fish. We have a smart 10-year old that has lots of ideas and such to keep us busy. Kids always make fishing better.

My boat has a leak that is being very tedious about being located and repaired. The first attempt flunked, so we are in phase 2 of locating and fixing the leak. It isn’t dangerous because it is slow and the bilge works great. I am sure everyone needed to know about that. 

Boats always have something — a hole in the water that always requires money. My friend Jimmy New said the happiest two days of his life were when he bought and sold his boat. I’m headed in that direction.  

The Bottoms are in high water. The muskrats are busy, carp are everywhere, and finally some shad are showing up. Shad are the finest bait for almost any fish. They congregate in large schools in the reservoirs and at the Bottoms. It seems strange to see cowboys flinging cast nets, but that is the way to get your bait. 

It is always later in the summer before the big balls of shad show up — they have to grow. One of the more amazing sights at night is the huge balls of shad that gather around the lights that we hang in the water. It is very precise process — the lights attract bugs and very small fish and such, the shad show up to feast on that, and then the crappie, white bass, wipers, stripers, catfish, drum and even large-mouth bass show up to gobble the shad.

More than one rod has disappeared very suddenly when unattended for just a moment. Night fishing is spectacular — it is quiet, cool, very entertaining, and there are no jet skis whizzing around. I like not having to wear sunscreen.

There are some birds at the Bottoms that we don’t see all that often, and are pretty secretive. These are the Grebe family. They are often mistaken for ducks, but a close look will show you a really neat bird. 

Most have red eyes, and are just beautiful. The mating dance of the Western Grebe is one of the best ballet performances in the world. Clark’s Grebe is very similar to the Western, but if you look close it appears that he is wearing a toupee. 

They migrate through here like so many others, but they aren’t hunted or even bothered as far as I know. They can dive faster and swim farther than you would ever expect.

There isn’t much else out there except cattails and mosquitoes. It has been a stellar year for mosquitoes. They might be getting used to the repellants. If you go frog hunting, wear lots of that stuff — they really are pretty awful. A quick freeze is closer than you think.


Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast. He can be reached at