Among the special reasons why I like fishing bass from a canoe is that a quiet paddle provides close encounters with nature and wildlife. Think about an ungainly great blue heron, for instance, rising from a sprawl of pickerel weed or several painted turtles sunning on a partially submerged log. Likewise, picture a snapping turtle surfacing among lily pads sprouting bulbous yellow flowers, or a hen black duck towing an unfledged brood along a shoreline cluttered with arrowhead, an aquatic plant also referred to as duck potato because waterfowl feed on its tuberous roots.
Furthermore, I like easing a canoe into shallow water to read signs marking the activities of amphibious animals: a muskrat’s feed bed, for example, littered with the shells of mussels (commonly called freshwater clams), otter slides, and stubs of poplar shaped like sharpened pencils, where beavers practiced selective cutting. Moreover, I can hear the yodeling of loons and the rhythmical chanting of bullfrogs more clearly from a paddled canoe than I can from a boat with a chugging outboard motor. Admittedly, those distractions and others — perhaps a dragonfly perched on a gunnel — sometimes cause me to miss hooking bass that smother my momentarily inactive fly rod popper with strikes that are startling.
Nevertheless, given that bass guarding spawning beds aren’t bashful about committing acts of aggravated assault on lures cast over them, I continue fishing optimistically. Paddling quietly, casting methodically and pausing contentedly to appreciate the special reasons why I like fishing bass from a canoe.