Off I went. But I decided to do something different today. After all, it could be my last time out (if Camping is right).... Where have I wanted to go, but haven't yet. That's easy. The beautiful little town of Smithfield, Virginia (smithfield-virginia.com), home of Smithfield Foods, is less than 30 minutes up the road from me on the Pagan River. And in downtown Smithfield is the Windsor Castle Public Park which has a nice, new public kayak/canoe launch. (Go to windsorcastlepark.org for details.)
Now, the thought did occur to me that a Christian on the Pagan River during the Rapture might just get confusing. But I figured if Mr. Camping was correct, then the good Lord would certainly know where I am, regardless of the river's name. Hopefully, it wouldn't disqualify me.
Besides, I've heard there are some monster blue catfish in the Pagan; but whether the fish were biting or not was irrelevant, as I probably wouldn't be around to eat them for dinner (sarcasm alert.) I just wanted to explore and paddle the river as it winds through town. Catching fish would be a bonus. Today was about seeing and learning.
I pulled up to the parking area/launch site, and a couple was there setting up their kayaks for rental. Yes, the Pagan River Outfitters is on site for people without kayaks or canoes, who want to rent or even have a guided tour. A very nice couple they were, so here's their plug: paganriveroutfitters.com.
We talked for a few minutes about the river, the launch, the tides and -- since they were there all the time -- I asked where people often fished. They told me of a spot in a bend in the river where the water is very deep -- over 30 feet deep -- and that's where the bluecats lie waiting. I thanked them, took my kayak to the launch, and went on my way.
|Without a doubt, the easiest launch I've ever had. And getting out is just as easy.|
The tide was incoming, and the wind was pushing from downstream, too, so I decided to paddle against the tide and wind, and drift back with the current. With all the rain we've had this week, the water was the same color as the chocolate river in Willy Wonka's factory, so I knew catching any fish would be difficult today, but for once I really didn't care .
|I saw Augustus Gloop by the riverbank next to the launch... and then he disappeared. Was it the rapture, or did he fall in?|
None-the-less, I paddled a mile or so down river, under the overpass, past Smithfield Station, and towards the mouth where the Pagan meets the James, and then started drifting back. I got my rods, put on a couple jigs and jigged them as the wind and tide pushed me back. The river is busy, and boats passed me courteously, asking if I'd had any luck. Nope. Just enjoying the river. I guess we were all enjoying our last day.
Ospreys were circling above, but the water was so muddy and cloudy, they weren't having any luck, either. I drifted back under the overpass, lost a couple jigs, and kept drifting past the bend in the river where it's supposed to be deep. Still no luck.
|Looking down river towards Smithfield Station, but drifting up river with the wind and tide pushing me.|
|The fishing pier and the overpass in the distance are two good areas to try and "wet a line" in a kayak.|
A few minutes later when the pastor asked, "If anyone knows any reason why these two shouldn't be married, let him speak now, or forever hold his peace", I was tempted to scream, "DON'T DO IT! The world is ending today!", when I realized for them, it was the end of the world as they knew it. (Cue REM song, now.REM: End of the World). So I said nothing, and just watched... and kept fishing.
Actually, it was a "precious" ceremony, and whoever they are, I wish them well. What a beautiful day to get married. I just hope they get to the honeymoon part before 6:00. (wink, wink.)
|"Do you...? Yeah, yeah, come on honey, we gotta get to the honeymoon part now. We don't have long!"|
But, I guess I'm just the sentimental type. It was beautiful, and I then understood why fraternity brother, and current mayor of Smithfield, David M. Hare, told me that his daughter is getting married there next weekend (uh, um... assuming the world doesn't end tonight.)
I continued drifting back, and up the river a bit. Past the launch and around the corner and passed some docks. I saw four other kayakers during my time on the water, and while the fish weren't cooperating, I really didn't care at this point. It was a perfect day, and a nice change of pace.
|The Pagan River is beautiful and busy. But not so busy that you ever feel threatened in a kayak. I'd go back -- hopefully, when the water is clearer, and the fish are hungrier.|
|One last time on the water for this couple, and their bichon/poodle looking dog. At least it was a perfect day for it.|
I carried my kayak and equipment back to my truck, and the Pagan River Outfitters people even offered me a water. No thanks, I said. I've got some. But their thoughtfulness was appreciated. We chatted for a few more minutes, and then I said my goodbyes and drove back home.
But I'll be back. In fact, I'll look forward to it.... Uh, assuming I'm still here after 6:00 tonight.
So, for you pagans that are still here.... Until next time??? We can all hit the Pagan together. And if I'm not here, you can go without me now that you know the scoop.
P.S. It is now Tuesday, 5/24, and Mr. Camping (who did not get raptured) has come out and said that Friday, October 21, 2011 is the REAL end of the world. We better get all of our fishing in before then. I'm just bummin' because that's typically when the striper fishing starts to get excellent! Personally, I believe Matthew 24:36.