And he said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's the End of the World, So I went Fishing....

It's May 21, 2011, and according to Harold Camping, the end of the world is coming today before 6:00 p.m.  So with that in mind, did I want to do yard work, or take advantage of one (final?) beautiful day, and go fishing?  Hmmm, let me think about that....  Well, since this isn't a blog about me pulling weeds and mulching....

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 (, 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 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:

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.
I passed the fishing pier, where nobody was fishing, and then pulled up my lines, paddled back up a couple hundred yards, and drifted back again.  I did that a few times, with no luck at all.  But then I noticed I was listening to someone playing classical, acoustic guitar over an amplifier.
The fishing pier and the overpass in the distance are two good areas to try and "wet a line" in a kayak.
I looked to the riverbank, and saw numerous white chairs set up, and a white altar.  Dozens of people were sitting down, and then a golf cart, decorated in white lace, came down the hill.  The guitarist switched from Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" (is there anyone who didn't have that song played at their wedding?) to "Here Comes the Bride", and suddenly I had the best view in the house, as colorful bridesmaids and ushers came through the seats towards the riverbank, followed by the bride with her father.

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!"

Apparently, Windsor Castle is a popular place to have a wedding, and why not?  When you can sit and watch some obnoxious fisherman in an orange kayak paddling around.  I'm just sorry I didn't catch a fish so I could hoot and holler and distract them all.

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.
I paddled back down river one more time, and drifted back to the launch one more time.  I looked at the launch and watched an elderly couple get out of their tandem kayak together, and then get their small dog -- also with a PFD -- out, too.  How cute, I thought.  It would be the end of the world for them, too, I realized.  Did they know it?  Did their dog?
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 paddled up to and onto the launch, and dismounted far more easily than any other time I've gotten out of a kayak.  I tip my hat to Mayor Dave Hare and those responsible for building this attractive and useful site in the heart of such a quaint town.

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.

Fish on!


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.

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