I sat on the wilderness front porch with a chilled adult beverage late Saturday afternoon contemplating the coming week’s activities. There was the buzzing of bees and the sound of a single early cicada calling from the trees. A fish splashing in the lake to catch a low flying insect triggered a memory from long ago.
It was Memorial weekend in 1987 and the 17-year cicada were hatching.
Sipping on my mint enhanced icy libation, I let my memories take me back to that fun-filled day when younger brother Whitney, friend Vaughn Isenhower, and I had took a Memorial Day fishing expedition.
We opted for an early morning departure for the fishing hole deciding to try an little used fishing spot on Mutton Creek just north of the Vernon Township line. The two younger fishermen told me the spot was little used, but a well-beaten path all along the creek told me otherwise.
We had ample night crawlers, baited up and waited for the action. And waited. And waited.
As the morning warmed we were getting bored. We noted more and more of the freshly surfaced cicada grubs had come up on the nearby weeds and trees to shed their shell and become adults.
Frustrated with the lack of fishing action, I grabbed one of those grubs, impaled it on a hook and cast to the middle of the creek. Before the bobber could stand straight up it was heading for the bottom. I set the hook and cranked the reel. In short order a plate size catfish was the first on the stringer.
Not sure if it was a fluke, I re-baited with another cicada grub and flung the bait into the creek. Same action, same results.
It didn’t take Whit & Vaughn long to reel in and follow the leader and they, too, got the same results.
Now we boys were having so much fun. Every grub brought to shore a plate size catfish.
Then, just to show that she can be a mysterious woman, Mother Nature gave the fish lockjaw. Not narry another nibble was detected.
Eventually the fishermen grew bored again and noticing a recently pupated cicada had shed its shell and was drying its wings in the sun, I grabbed it and with a “Any bets he can’t fly across the creek” lofted the inexperienced flier up over the water. He buzzed through the air before landing with an exhausted plop on the surface. It buzzed a couple of times trying to take off before a bluegill had him for lunch.
On cue, all three fishermen reeled in as fast as they could, took off the grub, took off the sinkers, grabbed a winged cicada and began having fun again hauling in bluegill.
I was still having fun when I notice my watch said I had to leave to get the week’s newspaper done. Whit & Vaughn feigned being sorry that I couldn’t continue fishing as they kept pulling them in.
As my present day libation was drained, I was swept back from my memory. I did some quick math and according to my beverage assisted calculations the next 17-year cicada brood will return to provide more fishing bait in 2021.
Perhaps the now gray haired— but just as youthful— trio should begin clearing their schedule for another Memorial weekend fishing expedition.