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Norfork Fishing TripThe weatherman lied…again! The wind, they said, would be gentle-northerly at about 5 mph. After I made the 90 mile drive and launched the boat in the dark, the breeze picked up a bit, more like 15 to 20. It was one of those days where the waves would lift the front end of the boat so high that the trolling motor would spin in the air before plunging deeper than I wanted in the water. The north wind carried cold temps too. I woke up to calm and 62, and by 8am it was knee-knocking shivers with a wind chill in the 20’s. I did throw in the insulated rain jacket and that helped out a bit. The shorts that I wore did not. It was April and the crappie spawn should have been in full swing. Under typical conditions, I would have eased the boat around in 4 to 6 foot water, vertically jigging standing timber and caught my limit of 25 crappie within a couple of hours. These cold blasts just kept coming in the spring of 2021-one per week. Perfect spawning water and conditions for 3 days, north wind and cold moisture for the next 3. The fish never really “patterned”. They just kinda went with the flow of things. I’m sure that some spawned out in 10-14 foot water and others in less than a foot.

On this particular day, the north wind didn’t kill the bite, but I certainly had to work for my fish. The bois’ d’arc tree jungle gave up one fish in 6 foot water. A trusted brush pile in 12 feet of water yielded a few more. The bridge was holding some fish in 12 to 14 foot depths. Moving the boat was cold, wet and time consuming. I caught my 25 keepers but not in a couple of hours. This took all of the morning and half of the afternoon. Patience was the key.

I love the part of fishing that requires some thinking...trying to figure out where they are and how to get them to bite. Now I’d rather not do it with numb hands and cold tears running from my eyes, but it worked out. It would have been a lot more comfortable to load the boat at 7:30am and head out for a hot breakfast and home, but the fish fry wouldn’t have been nearly as good. I’m not patting myself on the back or saying ”look at me”. I’m simply pointing out the fact that many times, the guy in deer camp that comes back with the venison is not necessarily the best hunter in camp, but the one that will be patient and wait it out longer.

My wife, Robin, and I were fly fishing a beautiful stream some years back. This place was loaded with rainbows. She studied a short, shaded stretch of the little creek and spotted 6 trout. She patiently worked the less than eager fish for what seems now like half a day. Robin never spooked them and patiently delivered her fly to each individual fish again and again until she had held each one in her gentle hand. I don’t remember what her fly was that day, but the magic ingredient was patience.

They say that patience is a virtue. Ol' Daniel Webster says that a virtue is “a beneficial quality”. Yep. If our kids learn to possess the power of patience, not only will they experience better hunting and fishing successs but better relationships, careers and lives too. Ecclesiastes Chp 7 Verse 8 says, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, likewise, patience is better than pride.” God, in His grace, is the definition of patience. As He watches (and He is) this sinful world circle round and round, He patiently waits to hold us, one by one, in His gentle hand.

Billy Kinder

May 26, 2021

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