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Lockdown means fishing at Buckmaster Pond

I have to admit, I found the dog with a mask on pretty funny.

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

Has the lockdown been good for animals? While social media is inundated with images of wildlife seemingly “taking back” land that has suddenly been abandoned by humans, and the reduced number of cars on the roads has undoubtedly been good for minimizing roadkill numbers (as well as air pollution), I’m not so sure. Some people argue that the rise in animal videos are just people being bored and noticing the animals around them more. There is also the issue of hunting and fishing, which has to have increased during a time when more and more people are looking to do outdoor activities, rather than being stuck inside.

To that end, on Thursday, I headed out to Buckmaster Pond to see how many people were using the opportunity to fish - the pond, after all, is stocked with a variety of fish, including trout, largemouth bass, crappie, pickerels and catfish.

While I was looking for people fishing, I was immediately struck by how many dogs there were. At least four separate groups of people were walking their dogs, and some joker had placed a mask on the statue of a dog in the middle of the park. I’d love to know when, exactly, the person put the mask on the dog statue, considering how expensive they were, early on in the crisis.

While the dog wearing a mask was a joke, one family had a dog wearing a lifejacket, to which they were throwing a ball. I asked about the lifejacket and they said it was the first time the dog had been swimming all year, so they wanted to be safe in case his swimming muscles weren’t ready.

'You want a Pepsi, pal, you’ve gotta pay for it.'

There was also a man who was going fly fishing. Interestingly, rather than standing on the edge of the water or getting into a canoe (or kayak, of which there were many), he had waders on his legs, fins on his feet, and was sitting in what was essentially an inner tube. I watched him fish for a long time, mainly fascinated by how unorthodox the whole thing seemed. Apparently, it’s called “float tubing,” and it is a very popular way to fish.

Essentially, the fisherman was sitting in an innertube and floating out to the middle of the water.

I wish I could offer a vivid, beautiful five-hundred-word description of fly fishing, like Norman Maclean did in “A River Runs Through It.” I wish I could use the man fishing as a metaphor, maybe about new technology in an age-old pursuit, or something like that. I really wish I could write something better, but all I could think watching him float into the middle of the water was “wow, that’s really weird looking.”

He got pretty deep into the water, too.

Less odd to my eyes was a family using the rod and bobber method. I headed over to them and watched a grandfather load the kids’ hooks with hot dog rolls and cast them onto the water. After asking if I could photograph them, I waited to get the perfect shot of a gleeful child triumphantly holding a giant bass next to his grandpa. It would have been a great shot. The kid would have cut it out of the newspaper, framed it, and looked at it lovingly as, decades later, he taught his own grandson how to fish. They didn’t catch anything, though, so I just awkwardly hung out with a family as they tried to keep the two kids' lines from crossing, the older kid from eating the rolls, and the younger one from going into the water.

Even though they didn’t catch anything, they seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Maybe they reeled in a giant fish just after I left and didn’t need me to take the picture.

Maybe what Norman Maclean never realized is, it was never about catching the fish.    

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