The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 19, 2014

Ken Maurer outdoors column: Hitting the water

By Ken Maurer
For The Daily Item

— Trout season is coming along slowly. At least it hasn’t snowed much in the past few days.

Rain, high water and cold mornings have made trout fishing a challenge much of the time so far. It will warm up sooner or later, I think. This global warming is something else.

One of the things you don’t want to do in this cold water is to fall in. It is also known as going in the drink or taking a dunk. As you know, falling in, when achieved with no permanent physical damage, is one of my favorite things to watch. To watch, I say, because having fallen in a few times on my own, I much prefer to watch someone else fall in.

Over the years, I have been witness to a wide variety of “falling ins,” to the point where I have decided to categorize them.

The first category is the simple slip-n-slide. The perp simply gets on a slippery rock or two with a slippery slope and they slide until they loose their balance and kerploosh — in they go.

This can occur at various water depths, but the shallower ones are more fun to watch. From experience I can tell you that if you find yourself performing one of these, simply go with it and take the dunk. Fighting it only makes it hurt worse.

The next one is the old sneaky rock attack. Even if you know every rock in the creek, once in a while one of those rocks will sneak into position to waylay you.

It will happen as you are concentrating on the water where you just cast, as you decide to take a couple more steps to get just the right drift. A rock will sneak up on you and cut you off at the ankles like a 170-pound cornerback taking out a 240-pound running back.

You are going for a liquid face plant and the odds are good that a big hook-jawed brown will engulf your lure just as you are about to hit the water.

You will, of course, hook the fish just briefly enough to see at eye level the dime-sized spots on his back.

The fish will get off, and as you sputter to your feet, there will be a nose picker sitting on the bank watching his rod in a forked stick, laughing till the cows come home.

Then there is the more dignified, classic, “dancing with water” falling in.

This must be performed in shallow water, and a good current helps. In this move, the angler looses his balance, then struggles to get one foot in front of the other to avoid the inevitable pull of gravity. Often, the angler will veer off to one side, like he just got off a merry-go-round.

Sometimes it takes a couple steps and sometimes there will be four or five quick, hopeless steps. In the quintessential dancing with water dunking, the angler appears to be leaping across the shallow water, reminiscent of a soggy ballet dancer, only to end it with a tremendous splash.

Make sure they aren’t going to drown and make sure they aren’t hurt. If all is well, laugh at will.

There are other categories such as the split shot, the log crosser and the hat float, but we’re out of space here. Have fun on the water and keep yer boots dry!

Ken Maurer, Herndon, is a licensed fishing guide and a regular contributor to the outdoors page. Email comments to