Prolog: It’s only the worst when I need it the most
This is a personal best at this lake and I wish it were a good thing. The other morning I arrived at a lake with some folks and it ended up being the worst experience for them. The discarded trash, the line strung from trees, the story of someone who took possibly ten to twenty fish out in a garbage bag last year…it all was a blending of horrors for people who regularly fly fish high mountain streams. They looked at me and said,”You really fish here?”
The rest of the story is probably more dismal than I make it sound but suffice to say the place needed a cleanup. It is absolutely crazy how some places get a cleanup every year or so and you could never tell after a few months. Once upon a time this lake was great for largemouth bass and I may or may have not done some Youtube videos here for catfish. This post is about one of my toughest cleanups for 2011.
“Red Five I’m go…what the @#$% ???”
Pull up to the lake after work trash bags, secret weapon and no fishing poles. This is a lake I hit a few times a year on the morning route but rarely visit on the evening shift. I figured there would be a small crowd but I didn’t expect five vehicles at the small lot and then two more coming in as I geared up. The two “anglers” rolling in looked at me like I was from another planet.
First hour doesn’t go to bad. There was little to report until I reach the illegal trash dump of construction material. This is the kind of thing that is beyond my scope and makes my effort seem completely futile. Nonetheless I purge forward filling up bag number one focusing on the trash I could pick up. The second hour goes by and the first bag is full. Things are going pretty smooth and the day looks like it could wrap up sooner than expected. For once a trash haul into this location wouldn’t be so bad.
“This run is going to be easy.” One of these days I will learn to stop saying that. As soon as I thought things were going to be easy I ran into Trash Cove.
Trash Cove…every lake has one of these it seems
The top part of the area was filled with loose paper and items not too tough too grab. The bottom was much worse. Here is where I have to really dig in. So many plastic bags, water bottles, cans, and one freshly placed trotline. A vinyl plant box was also pulled out and had to have been there for several months. It could have been much worse and I have seen much worse here. Ugh…every year. The more I pulled out, the more junk I found. Some places you almost want to give up on.
No good deed goes unpunished.
I am turning the corner and nearly half the distance on filling up bag number two when I feel a slight twinge of pain in my lower leg just below my knee. It was so subtle at first. Maybe a small thorn or even a plant-prickly say from a thistle. I checked my pants and saw a spot of mud with some plant debris. I brushed it off and thought nothing more of it. A few steps later my leg began to throb and I stopped once again. This time I felt inside my pant leg for a creepy crawly. Through denim it was tough to feel much but there seemed to be nothing there. Usually you expect to feel some sort of crunch, right? Nothing. Like an idiot I kept walking thinking it was just a lingering pain from the thorns and easily fixed later. Minutes later my leg was on fire and the memory of this strangely pulsating pain that has occurred several times in my life came flooding back to me.
“Red ant.” I muttered rolling up my pant leg and pulling off a half dead red ant with mandibles the size of bear claws from my leg (ok maybe not bear claws).
The escalation of pain stopped as soon as the ant was removed and the throbbing subsided. I continued to pick up trash while reminding me how intense the red ants are at this location. Fierce may be too mild of a term and they control a vast amount of the shoreline at this lake during the summer season.
Final Lap and pull out the secret weapon (ok it is just a cart)
By the final lap I have cleaned up the north side of a lake that gets zero attention unless the city wants to cut down all of the trees due to some invasive species policy. No this is not bizzaro world. This is where I fish sometimes and well it kinda sucks the way people treat it and even the local management is not on my side. The only thing I can really have any impact on is releasing fish and picking up trash, just so happens that by now I have three trash bags nearly filled up. One is a little light but I am still going to count this trip as a full three-bagger. (Who knows? After a few beers I might tell a story about three sticks, some fishing line and a large piece of plastic that nearly kicked my ass.) Lugging all of the bags out would be difficult at best. So I leave the bags at one location and deploy my tooner cart to do the heavy lifting for me.
Limping back to the truck on one good leg my arms grudgingly load the trash bags into the back of the pathfinder. Driving off the frustration of so much litter starts to fade and my mind lends focus to next trip.
“May that trip actually have some fishing involved.”
Good luck and good fishing