Fish and Quills

20160411_190025The spring evening was perfect with no wind and temperature about 75 degrees. Perfect for fishing after work.  I jetted home 30 miles and picked up the dogs after throwing off my jewelry and my fancy shirt, donning a T-shirt, a ponytail and my fishing ball cap.  I was off like a shot, grabbing the worms out of the fridge on the way out.  As soon as I grabbed the worms, the dogs knew exactly what was going on and started dancing around with excitement. I was careful not to say the word “fishing”, cuz it sends them into a tizzy, and they start wrestling and messing around in the house and it drives me insane. Since I keep all my fishing stuff in my car, I was basically ready to go in 5 minutes and off down the road, with the dogs both hanging out of the side window of my car.

 I got there lickety split since it’s only a few miles from the house and let the dogs out to run.  The water was low and slow moving, but still fairly clear and if I could find a deep enough hole, there would be fish waiting for me.  I decided to try a different spot than I have tried before just for fun and walked quite a ways to find a deep enough hole.  The first three spots I had no luck, although I could see some of the fish feeding along some large rocks against the river bank.  I couldn’t get them to take my worm bait, but I did get one to chase it as I was reeling it in slowly.  I tried and tried to get him to bite but he wouldn’t, and eventually I gave up and moved on.  After fishing the deep holes and not having any luck, I moved upstream to an area that was full of very thick willows and tall brown grass along the bank.  The dogs were running all over, scaring up pheasants and exploring along the river.  I never really have to worry about them, they stick pretty close most of the time, and when they do wander off, they always periodically come back to check and see what I’m up to.  I was busy trying to catch a fish.  I had wandered upstream, where the water was moving faster and had an overhanging bank on the far side.  I knew from years of fishing that this was the perfect place for fish to hang out.20160407_175937

 I cast upstream and let my worm drift down close to the bank, and just like I thought, a fish grabbed it and took my bobber under the water. I actually didn’t see it take it because I was distracted by the noise behind me. I looked back at the creek and my bobber was gone but I hadn’t felt any tug because my line was loose.  A bobber traveling under water is always a good sign! Haha! The dogs were barking, but I didn’t think much about it, since they tend to rough house and growl and bark when they are wrestling with each other.

 I landed the fish and it was such a beauty!  A gorgeous rainbow trout out of this tiny creek!  I was ecstatic and so happy to have caught such a big one in this new area that I had never tried before!  This was awesome and it was such a nice evening and I was so happy!!   But the barking continued and began to get really annoying.  I came out of my fish induced daze and realized there must be something going on that I needed to be aware of.  I called the dogs, but only Foxy came.  They were close to me, right behind me in the thick willows, but I couldn’t see anything through them because they were so thick.  I left my fish still attached to the pole and the fishing tackle on the bank and decided to go see what was going on.  Then it dawned on me that I hadn’t brought my pistol or the bear spray, and I didn’t have anything to defend myself if it should be something that decided to be aggressive.  I grabbed a stick about 3 feet long and my fish net and headed into the willows, following the barking.20160411_190022

 Foxy was still running back and forth from me to whatever it was.  I hollered at my dog Brodie, but he wouldn’t come because he was the one doing all the barking. He is a plott hound, and I have discovered that he is really good at keeping critters at bay. But I wondered what it was that he was keeping at bay this time.  I weaved myself through the willows, following a small critter trail.  I hollered at Brodie and whatever it was that it better not be a bear!  Cuz I had nowhere to escape to if it was. I’m not sure what good that did, although my first instinct is to yell loud enough to scare it off if it is.  More than likely it was a beaver I thought, because they were thick on this creek, with holes dug into the sides of the bank everywhere.

 Now I was getting close, and I could see Brodie standing up on small bank, looking down into a bunch of willows and reeds.  Giving thanks that it wasn’t big enough to be a bear, I called Brodie to me and he turned to me and had 3 quills sticking out of his muzzle. Oh no, a fricking porcupine!  I called him off of it and he came to me and I pulled them out with no problem.  He was just keeping the porcupine there, but not trying to attack it.  I crawled down there and took a couple of photos of it. It’s back side was toward me. I have had experience with porcupines, and they are actually really slow, so I didn’t feel threatened at all.20160411_190408

 Foxy, meanwhile, was now writhing around in the grass, rubbing her muzzle and face onto the grass and the dirt, just like what she does when she gets sprayed by a skunk in the face. She was yelping and whining like nothing I have heard before. I went to see how bad it was and saw that she had them all over her muzzle, inside her mouth and even in her gums.  She couldn’t fully close her mouth with the quills inside.  It looked really bad and she was foaming at the mouth.  This was a new experience for me.  She has had one run in with a porcupine before, but not nearly this bad.  She must have gone in for a bite and got a mouthful.  I attempted to pull some of the quills out with my fish pliers, and was successful in getting a lot of them out at one time, but it didn’t take long for her to have no more of that, because they hurt so bad coming out that they were drawing blood.

 This wasn’t working, I’d need to get her home and have my husband help me, because she wouldn’t keep her head still long enough to even get close to her mouth.  So begrudgingly I grabbed my monster fish and headed back to the car with the dogs.  Foxy was frothing at her mouth, because she couldn’t close it and  I felt so bad for her, but I also knew that we were in for a hard time once I got her home.  They were both content to hang out the window on the way home, which I was thankful for, since all the slobber from her mouth ended up on the outside of my car, instead of on the leather seats inside.

 I called my husband on the way to get ready with pliers because I was heading home with Foxy and a mouthful of quills.  He came outside prepared with pliers and leather gloves.   Now came the painful and excruciating part, where we had to hold her down and try to pull them out.  Needless to say, she wasn’t cooperating and wouldn’t keep her head still for longer than a few seconds.  Do you know how hard it is to pull out quills from a mouth that is thrashing around constantly?  He could hardly see them, much less be able to put a plier close enough  to grab them. She was howling and whining, Bob was attempting to pull as I was sitting on her and keeping her legs and head as still as possible.  He got the majority on the outside out. but there were a few that broke off.  Then we changed spots and he sat and I pulled.  We found that if we covered her eyes and let her pant, that we could sneak a small surgical clamp into her mouth and grab it and lock onto it if I was fast and accurate.  Slowly most of them came out, but she wasn’t happy about it and didn’t cooperate until the very end.  I think she was too tired of struggling by then and just basically gave up. We decided to get all of them except the ones that had broke off and there was nothing left to grab, and agreed that I should drop her off at the vet on the way in in the morning and hopefully they could get the rest out.  She calmed down then and spent the rest of the evening in the house laying low.20160411_202947

 Now that that episode was over, I went and retrieved my fish.  It was a doozy and weighed 2 pounds and was full of eggs, so no wonder it was so fat.  I froze the eggs to use for egg sack bait at a later date, and cleaned her and prepared her for cooking. She was awesome.  It was a good day, even though the fishing was cut short.  It just gives me an excuse to go try again, except next time I think I’ll have to leave Foxy home, poor girl.

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