Got Drought?

Friday, March 27, 2009

By Roger Emile Stouff

Got a drought? No problem. Let me plan a fishing trip.
†† Oh, yeah. Months now Iíve been planning this, the first expedition to the Louisiana creeks for 2009. Intricate, detailed study of maps and collecting the various items Iíll need: New flies, good equipment, a few bucks to pay for the gas. It was to be Saturday.
†† Not now.
†† The thing has been completely inundated. Thereís people in Natchitoches Parish building arks, I kid you not. The little streams there must look like raging rivers, and the little terraces and waterfalls like Niagara.
†† Thatís all it takes. I just have to plan a fishing trip and the clouds turn black, the thunder rumbles and the skies split open to release sheets of rain like hallelujah, brethren. Inundation. Saturation. Complete and utter wet.
†† Rain like that hits them hills and the little creeks and rivers ďblow outĒ like I do after Thanksgiving dinner. Iíve never seen it, but I can imagine itís awe-inspiring to see that little stream, pretty gentle in normal water, crashing and tumbling along like a runaway train.
†† Those are Miocene deposits, no more recent than 5 million years ago and old as 23 millions years ago. We live on very young earth down here, but those hills are an uplift of rock that was later covered by Mississippi and Red River deposits. Streams and smaller rivers ate through the deposits, some harder than others, and the hills were formed.
†† Make no doubt about it, despite the cheery pines. dogwoods and such of those hills, this earth is old. Ancient and brooding. The Indians used the uplift as safe travel between Louisiana and Texas.
†† Thereís something haunting about earth and rock that old. I remember the first time I went there I fished until twilight, and in a deep bend of the stream, down in between bluffs rising 20 feet above me, I felt I had stepped back into somethingÖlong forgotten. As the cold, clear water rushed around and past my legs, I saw that the stream had, as Harry Middleton said, ďpeeled back the planet's history exposing the texture of time itself.Ē
†† So now weíre not planning on going next weekend. Nope. No way, Jose. Thereís no way Iím going to try to go fishing up north next weekend. Uh-uh. Forget it. What, you think Iím crazy or something? Ha! Nope. Gonna sit home and watch Buffy and pretend I donít even like fishing. Thatís what Iím going to do all right. Yep. Umm-hmm.
†† What is it about spring that makes such interruptions more unbearable? Like a cold front. Thereís a cold front coming through tonight. Granted, itís not all that cold, and I realize itís only late March, but Ma Nature shouldnít mess around with me that way. Itís been too warm and pleasant, and now a cold front? Gimme a break. I might as well go live in Colorado.
†† Come to think of it, I donít need much of an excuse to go live in Colorado, anyways. All I need is a winning lottery ticket, or a bestselling novel, and itís trout country here I come!
†† I went to the Smoky Mountains last fall. They were in the throes of a three-year drought. The rivers were lower than memory could recall.
†† Know what happened? It rained more that week I was there than memory could recall. I thought about sending the fly shops and guides a bill for services.
†† Buddy of mine quit his job with a major oil company when they wouldnít let him go fish the brown trout in the fall in North Carolina as he did every year. I say wouldnít let him when in fact, they did let him, because he went anyway. Thatís a fisherman, ladies and gents, and sometimes, itís all I can do not to throw responsibility to the wind and do the same. Luckily, I am a coward too, so I stay put.
†† And thatís kinda funny in itself. Iím scared to death of dropping all this fiscal prosperity (tongue firmly embedded in cheek), comfort and prestige (tongue poking out of cheek now) but Iíll jaunt merrily down into a streambed I never saw before in country inhabited by copperhead and timber rattlers, often dotted with quicksand and deep, deep holes of water, my fly rod waving over my fedora, looking like a lunatic sorcerer gone amok. But suggest to me that I uproot myself, the little lady, the dogs and the cat and go find a new job in Bozeman, Montana? Iíll crawl under the bed and dream about it wistfully in terror.
†† Anyway. Got drought? I can fix it. Rain dance? We donít need no stinking rain dance, meester. All I gotta do is plan a fishing trip. Which I am not planning for the weekend of April 3-5, be very, very clear on that.
†† Adieu, mon amis.