Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fishing at Pottawatomie Lake #1

Saturday morning started early for everyone.  David was up just after dawn and he announced to LT and Rudy that they were having another fishing day today.  The cats were delighted, as they had been enjoying the fish.  Since Lettie had fed them so many dinners this week, David had cooked up some of the fish just for them, and heated up portions from the fridge so they wouldn't have to eat cold food.  It was heavenly. 

"We're headed to Pottawatomie Lake #1 today.  I've heard that it's a lot less, um, wild, than the other lake, and we're not likely to run into any coyotes there.  It's right off Route 99, so it's pretty civilized.  Well, civilized for this rural type of place.  It's not any more in the middle of nowhere than we are right now."  Sometimes David didn't know when to stop talking.  He laughed, glad that the only ones to have heard these comments were a pair of cats who were staring at him expectantly.  "Let's go!"

He drove through town to get back on Route 99 and headed north.  Rudy said to LT, "This isn't Pottawatomie, LT.  I think it's Union.  Or maybe Rock something.  I forgot the names already.  But it's definitely not Pottawatomie Township.  But that's okay by me."

There were a number of cars already at the parking area for the lake, and David worried that the other fishermen or fisherwomen might object to the presence of cats.  They didn't know how well behaved these two were.  So, he went to the very end of the parking area, and then headed further up the edge of the lake away from the others.  He was hoping for channel catfish today.  This lake was stocked with them, and recent reports said they had been biting well.  He looked forward to pan frying some catfish over his little grill.  Yummy.

Soon after he set himself up for fishing a family with children arrived, also obviously looking to be away from the more crowded area.  The father asked if David minded if they fished here, and the children would be quiet.  David replied that he didn't mind the kids if they didn't mind his cats.  The cats would not only be quiet, they wouldn't steal their fish.  The man laughed and the two shook hands.  The children unpacked their own fishing poles and soon everyone except the cats were tossing their lines in the water.  The kids were a bit erratic about their casts, some of them ended up right at the edge of the water, while others were way far out in the lake.  Rudy watched, not sure where they were aiming at.  The smallest one didn't seem to be trying to catch fish at all.  He seemed to just like sending his lure flying out to make a satisfying 'plunk' in the water. 

LT had headed up the bank away from the humans a bit.  He wasn't going to make the same mistake as last week, even if David said there were no coyotes.  He was going to stay in easy walking distance of David, but he wanted to try some fishing of his own.  Rudy came and joined him, and the two discussed how they might catch a fish, or perhaps just a frog or two.  The frogs weren't for eating, they were just entertainment.  At the moment, unfortunately, there were no fish bigger than the cats' paws near the bank, and those weren't worth catching. 

It was so quiet that the only noise was the zipping sounds of the fishing poles as lines were reeled in or cast out.  LT began to doze off, and Rudy sat watching birds out on the lake.  They kept to the middle, or at least far enough out that they couldn't be snared by an errant cast.  She was no expert birdwatcher, but figured there were ducks and probably some geese out there.  Where she and LT had settled, they were mostly obscured by tall grass, so when some of the birds decided to come to shore, they aimed for a spot near the two cats. 

A mother duck, with five ducklings swimming behind her came to within about ten feet of the two cats.  Rudy restrained herself.  As much as she would like to snack on fresh duckling, she knew that children didn't understand things like that.  Ducklings were cute fuzzy things, and not lunch.  So, Rudy called out to the ducks, "Cats here - just letting you know.  We won't chase you, but I don't want you to walk into us and get all scared." 

The mother duck started at this declaration and the ducklings gathered around her, all of them still in the water.  "Why wouldn't you try to catch us?  You're a cat.  Cats chase ducks."

"Kids here, fishing.  They'd get all upset if we killed a duckling.  We're not hungry anyway, and our human is catching lots of fish for us to eat.  Plus, we're sleepy, and don't want to get up.  Truce?"  Rudy explained all the reasons, figuring the more she said, the less likely the ducks would panic.  "My name is Rudy, by the way.  My sleepy friend here is LT."   LT raised a half-awake head and waved a paw in the air. 

The duck looked over and saw Rudy, who was now sitting up.  She was almost as big as the cat, and she knew cats didn't like to get wet, so they would be pretty safe as long as they stayed in the water.   "Children, that is a cat.  A domestic cat.  They catch and eat small birds and animals, like mice and voles.  Most birds can fly out of the way, but until you all get your feathers, you are very much at risk if you get near something that looks like that.  Take a good look at her.  They're not all the same color as this one, and most of them have shorter fur, but they all have pointy ears and long tails like that one.  If you see an animal like that, get close to me as soon as you can."

Four of the ducklings chorused, “Yes, Mama.”  The fifth asked, “Why?”  The mother duck rolled her eyes, thinking to herself there was one in every brood.  She looked to the sky, hoping for inspiration. 

Rudy helped her out.  “Because if you don’t stay close to your mama I’ll run like the wind and snatch you before she has a chance to protect you.  We cats are fast.” 

The duckling looked at Rudy and replied, “I’m fast too.  I can run like the wind myself, you know.”  The mother duck continued looking at the sky.  If this one didn’t wise up soon, it wouldn’t make it to adulthood. 

“My legs are a lot longer than yours.  Look, see how fast I can run.”  Rudy took off up the edge of the pond, running as fast as she could, and pounced on a flowering weed at the edge of the water.  She then turned and ran back to LT.  “See, cats run very fast.”  She looked over at the ducks, and the doubter had moved closer to his mother. 

“Can you swim as fast as you can run?”  Now the duckling sounded properly worried.

“Nope, can’t swim worth a darn, and most cats hate water, me included.  I’ll get my paws wet to catch a fish or a frog, but I won’t swim to catch anything.  Besides, any full-grown water bird would just fly away long before I could get to him or her.  You’re safe from cats as long as you stay away from the shore.  There are other birds that would try to catch you, though.  I’ve seen hawks fly down and take young birds.  You should watch out for them.”

The duckling now accepted Rudy as an authority.  “Yes, ma’am.  I’ll be careful around cats and flying birds.  Now I understand.  Mama never explained it like you did.”

The mother duck sighed, partly in exasperation and partly in relief.  “Thank you, Rudy.  Thank you for telling us you were there and for showing Missouri why cats are dangerous.  I named this one Missouri because he doesn’t believe anything he hasn’t seen with his own eyes.”

Rudy laughed.  She knew that Missouri was called the ‘Show Me State’.  “Well, you’re welcome and good luck with your ducklings.” 

The little duck family swam back to the middle of the pond. LT looked up and told Rudy she’d done a very kind thing.  He’d learned from Ginger how hard it had been to raise her kittens as a single parent, and how much mothers worried about their children, no matter what species they were.  Rudy replied that although she was a carnivore, she was still a reasonably kind being.  Plus, she said, duckling fuzz gets caught in her teeth.  

 Photo courtesy of DeHaines -

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