Season's End Brings Mixed Emotions

Summer's winding down, August fading into fall. Days are shorter, cooler, the bass moving into the shallows, herding and bashing massive schools of baitfish, gorging, fattening up before the cold, lethargic winter months ahead.

It’s an exciting and somber time

as I hitch my Triton to the Silverado

and cram the bed with the tents,

sleeping bags, cots, cookery,

coolers and everything in between

in preparation for the seven-hour

trek down to Buggs Island for the

final fishing/camping trip of the


The water’s down at least 10 feet

from our last trip just over a

month before, a product of the

summer draw through the turbines

powering the millions of A/C units

that make the oppressive summer

bearable along the Virginia-North

Carolina coast. But the bassin’ is

good, the topwater bite lasting

into late morning and picking up

again in the final hours into dusk.

My older daughter Dana joins my wife Jan and our sweet, gentle bichon Mickey and me, taking a break from the New York City rat race. We let Jan and Mickey sleep in as dawn breaks, powering up on plane for five miles to our “secret” spot, a huge, jig-sawed cove bristling with dozens of pipe-stemmed inlets with jutting points and the unmistakable musky fecundity of hungry hawgs cruisin’ below. By nine we net and release a half dozen decent fish, reminiscent of the morning we discovered the cove nearly 20 years before.

That night the four of us huddle around the blazing firepit in our folding chairs (Mickey included), the sweet oak scent wafting up through the trees and the leaves that won’t be there in another month, the angry toads screeching from the water’s edge. All is right with the world as we argue politics and toast each other with our illicit adult beverages cleverly masked in plastic “merica” glasses.

We break camp after a couple of days and head back, Jan, Mickey and me to the sedate Northern Virginia suburbs, Dana to the noisy chaos of the world’s greatest city.

I’ll put into the Potomac a few more times before stowing my fly rods for winter’s long, barren months. For now, I’ll fish these final days of summer as if they were my last. God willing, they won’t be.