My deer lease is my happy place. Tucked along a rural county road in East Texas, lies about 400 acres of land that I hold very closely to my heart. The camp house setup is picture perfect, a 70 year old wooden cabin with a stone fireplace and an open porch looking over a pond. I have spent many hours on that porch looking out over that pond, and many hours in the pirogue catching bass and bream. Conveniently just five miles or so down the road I have a fishing membership on a much larger piece of land which includes about 40 ponds. In this write-up I will touch on paddle fishing and my fondness of both places.
Fishing at the deer lease pond is very simple but quite fulfilling. The pond is maybe three-quarters of an acre when its full and no more than a few feet deep. A pirogue lies on the bank near the cabin and we have a broken old paddle to scoot around with. I usually throw a plastic lizard or a Zoom Fluke, but the hungry bass will eat just about anything. Lately I have been bringing my fly rod out and giving that a go. I only have the 8wt setup mentioned in last months article, a bit oversized for the pond fish, but I make do. Still a novice at working a fly, I have been practicing with a small popper fly. I have managed a number of strikes but have only landed a couple of fish, even at that, Im gaining skills I can take to the coast. During deer season, I usually paddle around for 30 minutes or so between the morning and afternoon hunts. I even go to the camp during the off season, just to get away from the world. Paddling around the pond catching a few bass on a calm spring morning or even during the summer provides a moment of serenity like none other.
It is interesting to me how much fun I have fishing in the deer camp pond. I mean with all the coastal waters and big fresh water lakes and rivers available, I get just as big a thrill catching a 10 inch bass from a dinky little pond. There is something special about that place that is hard for me to explain, though I imagine many of you readers are nodding your heads right now, knowing exactly what Im talking about. Id bet most of you have a passion for the outdoors much like I do, otherwise you probably wouldnt be reading this magazine.
Down the road, at the fishing camp, lies a completely different beast of a fishing opportunity. Fishing at the deer lease is more for relaxation. Fishing at the fishing lease is relaxing but also more sporting. With dozens of ponds at my fingertips, pond hopping never gets old. Ponds range in size from what are just barely puddles up to seventeen acres. During the summer I make weekend trips up there and hit as many ponds as I can. Every pond has a different personality and look to it. Some ponds are chuck-full with crappie, others with catfish, and most have a nice population of bass.
A few of the ponds have jon boats on the banks ready to be launched. I remain true to the paddle boats and bring a couple of small kayaks. The kayaks are perfect for easing around the ponds and working the banks and other structure. I have posted a couple of simple videos to Youtube of my bass fishing (and saltwater). Search Casting with Cade and you should be able to find them.
The memories made at these places will last forever. From the stories told, to the wisdom handed down, to the quiet moments just sitting on the porch or in the pirogue or kayak enjoying the serenity of the outdoors, all make my heart feel complete. The photos of fish caught by smiling outdoorsman are testament to the blessing we have in nature and the quality interactions of the activity. I think back to the days when my dad would take me fishing as a youngster. My obsession with fishing and the outdoors today all started in a little pond in the woods.
I am pondering (pun intended) a couple of new goals for my coastal adventures in the coming months, a trophy trout from the yak and a cast-n-blast trip or two. I have never landed a trout over about four pounds. I have always primarily sought reds and caught trout as a consolation prize. My research on winter trophy trout tactics has already begun. I will put what knowledge I gain to the test in my search for a true trophy. Also, with duck season in full swing, I am planning some kayak duck hunting.
Until next time; have fun, be safe, and bring a friend.