Every outdoor pursuit comes with a collection of sounds that serve to enhance our overall experience. One of those is the sound of a reel’s drag singing loudly as a big fish peels line from its spool.
When coupled with the feeling of a scrappy fish bending a rod over in a delicate arc, that sound becomes forever part of a memorable encounter.
Some sounds, like that of bacon sizzling in the bottom of a hot cast iron pan, we learn to equate with an enjoyable experience. Combine that sizzle with the crackle of a camp fire and the smell of smoke and you have something worth repeating.
Other sounds, like that of a truck tire spinning in deep sand or mud, stack up in the not-so-fun category of things we would rather not experience more than once. Or at all, for that matter.
Then there is “the plop,” a sound generally associated with water-based pursuits. The plop comes in two varieties, one associated with events worth repeating and one that fits into the not-so-fun category.
First, there is the plop one hears when his lure lands cleanly on the water in the spot where he hopes to fool a fish. That’s a good thing and worth repeating. Then there is the depressing plop one hears when something that comes with a hefty price tag lands in the water unexpectedly. That’s a bad thing and definitely not so fun.
Unfortunately, outdoor enthusiasts sometimes have the misfortune of hearing both varieties of plops on the same outing, which means one can experience optimism and depression within a short time frame. Such was the case for me while kayak fishing out of Echo Bay on Saturday.
Hoping to hear the singing of reel’s drag under the weight of a smallmouth bass or two, I launched the kayak and began working the shoreline outside of what’s left of the old marina. Mounted at the front of my kayak was a GoPro camera, a piece of equipment that seems mandatory nowadays. The camera’s remote was tucked safely in the pocket of my life jacket just in case I rolled the kayak.
About 30 casts into my adventure, I was enjoying the plop of my lure hitting the water but had yet to get so much as a hit. Then I decided it was time to turn on the camera and reached for the remote, but in the process somehow managed to lose my grip. I watched helplessly as the remote fell toward the algae covered water, and as it hit I heard the not-so-fun plop of something with a hefty price tag hitting the water.
As the remote disappeared through the algae bloom, the words of warning I had read so many times in articles about kayak fishing came to mind. “Go prepared to swim and tie down anything you don’t want to lose to the depths.” Ironically, the remote comes with a ring that would have made it quite easy for me to attach it safely to my life jacket. All I had to do was take the time to do it.
Guess I learned the hard way why so many writers included similar counsel.
Anytime we take up a new outdoor hobby, there is going to be a learning curve that includes a process of trial and error. Part of that learning process includes adapting what we learn from others to our own personal preferences and abilities. Something else I learned Saturday is there is room for only so many rods on a kayak, no matter how many rod holding devices you have.
I also learned that one can tie an unbelievably effective knot without even looking. All it takes is a blind back cast with a drop shot rig combined with the lines of two or three other rods coming together in one place at the same time. Not so fun.
There is a unique sound that comes with that knot, but you won’t hear it and the sound of a singing reel at the same time. I am sure there is a word to describe it, but it might take some time to think of one that can be put in print.
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.