Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Sneak (05/12/16)
- TITLE: Who is the sneakiest?
By Mike Hill
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A premonition causes my adrenals to send out wave after wave of irresistible and overpowering adrenaline. I perceive that my palms are becoming sweaty yet, hardly noticing that my breathing has become short and shallow. My senses are on full red alert! I am in full concentration mode. I must keep tight control over my want of immediate action. I have to wait! I call on every ounce of discipline I possess.
I know he’s there! Don’t ask me how, I just do! Maybe after four decades of observing, I have finally got it figured out! Maybe it was what I ate for breakfast! Whatever - I can feel it! It’s the perfect hiding place. That gap in the weed-line. I know it is occupied, it’s the perfect sneak place for the perfect sneak. A perfect place from which to launch an ambush. A place easily overlooked by the casual observer, or the careless. Just the place he had in mind when he came across it and purloined it. The overwhelming thought in my mind was whether this time if I was to be the sneakiest sneak, or was he?
This was no normal fish I was after, here was the satan of the freshwater fish world. The Northern Pike was the meanest, baddest, sneakiest critter swimming. “No” was not a part of his vocabulary. Being afraid was something he expected of others. He sneered at the concept of brotherly love. He was three foot of finny devil. He didn’t come in a pretty red suit with cute little horns. He was a long, muscular killing machine with a big toothy grin full of flesh ripping teeth. He killed to eat. No pleasure was involved – It was pure survival.
He was in stealth mode. No blinking, no movement except for the occasional fin flick to maintain position and the almost imperceptible movement of gill covers pumping fresh water over his gills. He could stay this way for hours. To the careless and carefree, he was but a log in the weeds. But he had not had a good day, nothing had gone right and it had been a while since he last ate – he was hungry and he was mad! He wasn’t picky that morning, he was going to devour the first thing that swims past.
Making sure the sun wasn’t behind me highlighting what I was about to do, silently, I picked up my fly rod and unhooked the long black streamer. With two false casts and a single haul, I placed the fly six feet past the gap. With senses on full alert and ready to spring to action, I slowly retrieve the fly, hoping that the sinewy movement of those long feathers were appealing enough to elicit the hoped for reaction.
Instincts took over. FOOD! He was hungry and had to have it. As the fly passed the gap, I noticed a faint jostling of the water surface, then an ever growing bulge of water approaches the fly until the explosion occurs. Water erupts everywhere, fly line, pike, and teeth seem to be everywhere. There is now a hole in the water where the fly had been. Time seems to have stopped, or at least it seemed my heart had. Everything was slow motion. Mouth wide open, he came out of the water, flailing that long body to and fro, making sure that the meal he had just ambushed wasn’t getting away. My instincts now take over, I pull the line tight and rear back on the rod to set the hook into his hard toothy mouth. I felt the tug, I felt his power, and knew I had a struggle on my hands, but all I could think of in the moment was that I knew he was there! I knew it!
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