By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Why would I be so excited about a pair of hip waders?
Hip waders allow wading when the water is too cold to wade. They are handy for fly fishing, frog gigging, and really come in handy when talking to coaches, but I would look strange wearing them. (Just kidding coaches).
When last Friday’s baseball games were cancelled I strapped on the waders I got for Christmas for the first time. First I noticed socks would have been a good idea. Then I looped the straps through my belt to keep the waders from sliding down. I wondered how I would look running from a bear if both waders were full of water. I strapped the sheath knife my dad gave me to my side so I could at least cut the straps off in case of bear attacks. Then I noticed my spinning rod had apparently broken itself since being used last fall.
Not starting out good. Actually it was almost perfect. I had my trusty fly rod, named El Rod, with me.
I expected a little rust on my fly casting skills, but I was able to hook something on my first cast. Unfortunately it was the bush behind me about six feet above the bank. It’s not real easy to climb slick rocks in hip wader. I managed to contort myself into a position that just reached the branch and pulled it close enough to break off the twig.
It would be my only catch of the day. It wasn’t really about catching anything, it was more about getting a chance to get out and do something. Sometimes I wonder if momma lied to me. She claims I was born in the Corbin hospital, but I think it may have been next to a creek or in a cave somewhere. When the winter gives way to warm weather I want to sleep under the stars. I would trade running water from a faucet for running water from a river. There wasn’t enough time Friday to seek water and true solitude. I drove to Laurel Lake with the sun so bright in my eyes I used my hand for a shield while driving. Everyone I passed thought I was waving. I didn’t have a destination in mind other than water. I found a great destination or it found me.
If you have never been below the dam at Laurel Lake you should pack a fishing pole or a picnic basket and relax there some evening. There are benches overlooking the water and good rest rooms. The night I went the warm rain caused fog to rise above the water like Hollywood production. If someone had taken a photo from below the river, I would have looked like a real fisherman.
I went a little too far and a little too long. On the way back I had to use a flashlight to make sure I wasn’t stepping into deep pools. If the sirens had gone off to alert that water was being discharged from the dam I’m not sure where they would have found me.
I did not see another soul, so I found my water and solitude. It only makes me want more.