Yule Tied Hideout

The trout got plenty of attention. They always do on the first day of March.

It happened suddenly. In the predawn, an armada of hip waders invaded their winter waterland. Pretty gifts dropped from the sky, tasty looking flies that fought against the rushing current. In a split second, a two-year-old trout bought the fake, ignoring the simple logic that a pretty fly won’t hatch until spring.

Hey, we’re all suckers for pretty packaging.

I ate trout for dinner.

A hundred miles from my plate, I knew it would soon be Christmas for crappie.

A few days before trout season opened, I drove past a beach at Smithville Lake. The air was cold and gray, and so was the water. Nobody was in sight. But a thousand ghosts of Christmas past were stacked near the shore.

They were old Christmas trees, pines and firs. Three months ago they’d been chopped and dragged indoors, and dressed up for the holidays. But after all the gifts were opened and all the houseguests went back home, the trees were stripped and kicked to the curb.

Ah, tradition.

Lately, the folks at Smithville Lake, and lakes everywhere, have hooked onto another Christmas tradition. Thnks to curbside recycling efforts, your old Christmas tree avoids the landfill or the wood chipper, and joins its brothers and sisters on a one-way trip to Davy Jones’ Locker.

At Smithville Lake on a cold February day, I saluted these dead trees, and wished them well in their final duty.

Soon, park staff will tie cement shoes around their trunks, and send the trees to swim with the fishes. Standing on the murky bottom of a lake, the trees will last for years, offering a perfect habitat to hide. The trees are not as pretty as they were in your living room – or on the farm – but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The crappie love these trees for the safety and comfort they provide. But deep down, I know the fish like something else…

They get a kick out of watching your prettiest lures get tangled in an old Christmas tree.

That’s what the bubbles are saying, anyway.

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