Somehow I have managed to survive on this planet for over half of a century never having known the thrill of catching a fish. It’s not for a lack of trying or an aversion to worms. I’ve sat in a boat and drank beer with the best of them, yet for reasons unknown the fish always seem to bypass my hook and move on to the next.
But this past weekend I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to get schooled by some expert anglers. As is usual, instead of taking notes I took pictures. These fishermen don’t need a trolling motor, spinners, lures or flies. They rely solely on their long legs, keen eye and quick reflexes. Without the aid of a tackle box or a trip to Bass Pro Shop, they pluck fish out of the water as easily as I pluck Doritos out of a bag.
I’ve witnessed Great Blue Herons at work in the past, but what made this occasion so special is that it’s spring. Usually they are pretty solitary birds, preferring to be loners and not share their fishing grounds with others. However, in the spring a young man’s fancy tends to turn to thoughts of love, and his affairs are governed more by his heart than by his hunger.
Although Herons don’t normally mate for life, they do stay with one mate throughout the breeding season. For the better part of the year it’s a little difficult to tell the males from the females, but during this season it’s the males turn to shine. Whole flocks gather in groups at the local fishing hole and the menfolk do their best to impress the ladies – who in general, tend to remain rather aloof and indifferent to the whole display.
At this pond there was one gentleman who was definitely the big man on campus. With his chest puffed up and his long colorful plumage tousling about in the spring breeze, he strutted across the water like an avian Mick Jagger. Surely, this guy could have his choice of all the lovely ladies, and he did seem to be intent on wooing one in particular. However, she seemed more interested in catching fish than in courting. I’m not sure if she was being coy and playing hard to get or maybe she was just hungry. Most likely, it’s all part of the game of love. Yet even with moves like Jagger, she remained unimpressed by all his obvious charm and charisma.
The fishing and the flirting continued on throughout the evening. At one point some Egrets stopped by to check out the local fishing scene, but they were soon carefully escorted from this exclusive club by a couple of male Herons on bouncer duty.
Before long, the sun started to drift lower on the horizon. One by one the Herons retreated from the pond, flying back to their nests to contemplate and strategize their next maneuvers in the courtship dance. We decided it was time for us to fly, too. But, like the Herons and the sportsmen, we’ll soon be back to try our luck at the fishing hole. Although I plan on getting my catch of the day with the snap of a shutter rather than the cast of a pole. Forever in pursuit of the one that got away.