Flotsam

September 12, 2020

I have been looking for a way to get my sow bugs in the water for the last week.  I have gone out several times, but the locations have been adverse for fly fishing.  This time I decide to try the Arkansas River near me.  The river is high, but not nearly the record flood stage of last year.  The Kansas and Tulsa rains that filled the reservoirs upstream have not been as dramatic and the Corps has been able to lessen the flow that brought our damage.  We have received quite a bit of rain this year, but that only causes short-lived flash flooding and problems for downstream and not us (lucky downstream, right?).  I drove into a park that had been under water much of last summer and found what looked like the perfect spot.  The minnows were schooling on the surface and the shad were rising.  I fished for an hour and got no bites.  I did not bother to try my sow bug.

I had read an article in the newspaper about the log jam that had formed at the hydroelectric plant across from the park.  One of the secondary effects from last year’s floods was it killed a lot of trees.  When the waters rose again this year it washed the dead trees into the river.  Just like the barges that broke away from their moorings last year, the trees flowed downstream until something stopped them.  In this case, it was the hydroelectric dam.  The article mentioned they were using a giant crane to scoop the logs out of the water, they hauled them a short distance, and burned them beside the river.   They had been working on this project for a week and estimated it would take at least two more weeks to clear the debris.  I stopped to watch.  This truly was an impressive operation.

As I was leaving the park, I noticed a small pond I had not noticed before.  This was not the impressive Arkansas, and it did not even look that deep, but I figured what did I have to lose?  I put out my cat pole and my bobber, intending to set up my fly rod while I waited.  I never got the chance.  I got a bite and quickly had six bluegills.  While not huge, they were a nice size.  This was my chance to try my new flies.  I brought in my bobber (it was taking all my time) and replaced it with the flies.  The bluegill loved the worms, the sow bugs, not so much.  Still I had caught fish.

THOUGHTS:  Throughout history life along the river has always been tenuous.  This began with the first cities built along the Tigris and Euphrates in Iran 5000 years ago.  When it floods, it can wash crops, and you, away.  If it does not flood, the silt that nourished the fields is not deposited.  Flooding picks up anything unlucky enough to be in its path.  This resulting flotsam is carried along creating further hazards.  Flotsam it a good way to consider much of what flows through the river of our life.  It may have been good at one time but can pile up when we try to stop life from going forward.  We cannot wish our troubles away or hope for them to disappear.  Like the crane operator we need to take as long as it needs to do the work to remove the hindrance.  Follow the science.  Do the work.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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