116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Balancing work and fun, reconciling our innate ant and grasshopper personalities, is a source of tension for most of us.
Should we be like the hardworking, providential ants or the profligate, fun-having grasshopper?
Ever since kindergarten, when the fable dominated the curriculum, I have subscribed to the then-prevalent ethic that work should take precedence over fun.
This eventually carried over to my adult interests in fun and fishing and evolved into the bizarre corollary that fun as it relates to fishing should be work.
The corollary manifested itself in heaps of chest waders worn out in the pursuit of fish in remote river stretches reachable only through arduous wading and hiking.
There is merit in this belief. Fish in remote waters are subject to less angling pressure, which tends to make them larger, more numerous and easier to catch than fish in so-called community holes.
Moreover, wading anglers with both feet on the river bed can more carefully and thoroughly fish a section of river than boat-bound anglers, who must divide their attention between fishing and controlling their craft.
My belief in fishing as work, and my identification as an ant with moderate grasshopper tendencies, has been sorely tested this fall by ridiculously easy bass fishing.
From Oct. 10 through the last week of November I have caught several hundred mostly adult smallmouth bass while standing in street shoes on an easy-to-drive-to bank of the Wapsipinicon River.
It was no-brainer fishing — cast out a light jig tipped with a plastic minnow, wind it back, wait for the thunk that signaled a bite and set the hook. Actually hook setting was optional. The fish hooked themselves nine out of 10 times.
Snags were seldom a problem because the fish almost always met the jig before it could settle into the rocks and soggy wood in the river bed.
Catching fish on multiple successive casts was the norm. During one late October five-day period, I caught 150 bass with a minimal expenditure of time and even less effort. It was almost enough to turn a grim ant into a giddy grasshopper.
As the fall progressed, however, the over-wintering bass gradually lost most of their characteristic spunk. By mid-November, they had foregone airborne efforts to free themselves, and by Thanksgiving they were coming out with their hands up.
Then fall gave way to the approaching winter. By the last week of November, subfreezing nights iced the still water near the bank and chilled the metabolism of the cold-blooded fish.
Cold-front winds robbed my casts of accuracy and blew annoying bows in my line, making it hard to tell where my jig was and what it was doing.
Bites grew increasingly scarce and hard to detect with numb fingers, while more frequent snags depleted my jig supply.
That’s more like it, the ant in me thought.