Nature finds a way … into my path

John Liechty

The ringing of the alarm clock shatters my deep slumber at 3:30 a.m. It is day nine of 10 straight days waking up before dawn and heading to the lake for another outing. During the summer months, the best opportunity to catch fish is in the first few hours of the morning. Like the saying, “The early bird gets the worm,” in this case it’s, “The early worm gets the fish.”

I leave the driveway and pull out onto a barren road ahead, while often never seeing another single sign of life on my 22-minute drive to the water. But on this ninth day, I found plenty of life. However, not of human origin, but of Mother Nature’s beings.

This day-in-day-out routine can tend to become a bit hazy and many mornings prior to fishing seem to blur together. On this particular day, I find myself out of rhythm and following a completely different order of operations.

It starts with a left turn out of the driveway to the nearby gas station to fill the tank when I always turn right and head toward the lake. Within seconds, out of the corner of my eye, I spot something flying in my direction. A large silhouette contrasts against the glow of the moon. I begin to slow down and then stomp my brakes to a grinding halt, as a giant owl lands in the road ahead of me. He pauses in the center of my headlights, stares me down for a brief second, and then takes flight. I say to myself, “That was weird.”

Nature finds a way … into my path

As I begin fueling both vehicles, I reach to my cupholder for my coffee and realize that I left it on my bumper. Thank goodness I chose this station because at least I could go back up my street and find my Yeti thermos. It was lying in the middle of my driveway, lid still on and not a drop spilled.

As I went to turn around in the nearby lot, a black cat scampers from the tall grass right across my path. Once again, I take note of these odd occurrences that had taken place in such a short time. I gather my composure and travel onward, only to have a possum try to slowly challenge me for the road ahead. I’m able to swerve and spare his life. Instead of being superstitious and taking these signs as a bad omen, I think that hopefully the fish are behaving the same and will cross our paths all day.

Well, that proves to be true.

On our first stop we have two grand catches and the day is made. But that’s not it. Later in the afternoon as we race across the water, we spot something unusual swimming ahead. It was a large buck with antlers still in felt. We watch it climb ashore and bound up the rugged hillside.

I make it back home without any other odd encounters. But as I stand on my front porch with my wife that evening, after completing a detailed description of my day, a large hawk flies just overhead grasping a slithery serpent in its talons. I shake my head in disbelief and bewilderment.

These random encounters with wildlife happen every once in a while, but all in one day makes for the oddest day to and from the lake and one of the greatest days to Xperience fishing.

John Liechty is the owner of Xperience Fishing Guide Service in Angels Camp. Contact him at 743-9932.

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