Make your own free website on
                MJ's WalkAbout Fiction  

Impressionism and the Zen of Bluegill Fishing
By JR Bumgarner

My buddy and I left home a couple of hours ago on a bluegill fishing expedition. We unloaded the boat, paddled across the lake, and anchored beneath a large maple. The tree's shade creates perfect hiding places and hopefully we will find a convention of bluegill lurking in the darkened waters. Our poles and reels are readied: leaders, bobbers, and hooks attached, and the worm container opened.

Looking overhead, two hawks skillfully ride updrafts. Enthralled by their beauty I'm suddenly daydreaming and soaring with them. I see my buddy below and marvel that he'd rather fish than fly. My lungs fill with fresh air and my outstretched wings carry me atop warm air currents. Tucking my wings, I dive for a lazy bass lolling about on the surface. Then suddenly, like a dropped bag of potatoes, I'm back in the boat, rubbing a sore finger. The hook I'm holding, but not paying much attention to, pricked my finger and flight school is over.

My spirit, temporarily plucked away, awakens my sleepy senses and something other than fishing begins commanding my attention. The hypnotic blip-blap of small waves lapping against the boat soothe me. Velvety green trees blanket the mountain slopes surrounding the lake and reach to meet the deep blue sky. Faded reds from a barn on the far shore blend with the blues and greens reflecting off the surface. Lost in thought I am no longer connected to the original purpose of our trip; but, I know Van Gogh and his other impressionist painter buddies would love this natural masterpiece unfolding before me.

On the banks, bunches of bulrushes, cattails, and aquatic grasses, provide shelter for turtles, fish, red-winged blackbirds, and clouds of swirling insects. Further along the shore, other monumental maples stretch their broad, flat-shaped leaves toward the blue sky, casting dark shadows on the water, creating more hiding places. Leaves flutter, and a small frog jumps from one lily pad to another. In a pasture behind a clump of cattails a cow bellows and a redwing belts out one of its finest arias.

The swish of the fisherman's cast and the whirs and clicks of his reel cut the air. The tackled worm's splashdown creates a sudden explosion of water and colors. Broken ripples and newly blended colors stream across the surface. He reels in slack and the bobber’s red and white colors add new hues to nature's painting.

My partner, the fisherman, focuses on the dancing bobber as though his sight is sunlight shooting through a magnifying glass. Watching him stare and patiently wait, I notice his silent entry onto the canvas.

The redwing offers up another aria. A soft breeze cools the air. The odors of earthy decay and fresh air mix and the mooing in the distance tell me no impressionist or photographer could fully re-create this scene.

The bobber jerks violently and disappears below the surface creating an implosion of water and colors filling the vacuum created by its vanishing. The fisherman sets the hook and reels in a ferociously belligerent, eight-inch bluegill. The fisherman's joy fills the boat as he lifts the fish into the boat and places it on a stringer.

I watch him re-bait his hook, set his pole, and cast again. Another explosion of colors and ripples occurs and soon the bobber again dances gently on the surface. The fisherman checks the captured prey on the stringer, then sharply refocuses his sight on the distant and floating bobber.

My pole lies quietly beside me, the line is dry and the worms in my cup are secure.

I'm simply too busy to fish.

JR Bumgarner enjoys all things, including nature and the continual unfolding of its mysteries and aesthetics. In addition to writing short essays and poems (some have been published on the internet), some of his photos are currently traveling in a Northwest Regional Salon, his paintings have been displayed locally, and he currently working on two screenplays. You can reach him by email at:

Back to the Fiction Map | I want to go home now

Graphics on loan from