I've been a pretty avid fisherman ever since I was a little kid. Bass, trout, amberjack you name it I've probably caught it.
After years of pinching pennies I was finally able to buy my own boat.
It's nothing crazy (2007 Triton if you're curious) but it floats and I've been able to fish a lot of new places I wasn't able to get to before.
The past six months or so I've been going to this lake a couple hours away from my home. It's a bitch of a drive but absolutely worth it. I've caught some monsters in that lake.
Even caught a twelve pound largemouth (best day of my life lol).
Despite my love of this lake, though, I am considering whether or not I should cease coming to it. I pretty much always fish alone.
It's my "me" time and I very much enjoy the sounds of nature when I'm fishing. The lake is pretty secluded so no one ever fishes on the banks.
I occasionally see other boats patrolling around, but the area I fish is through some low water areas and high weeds so I don't think any else goes back there.
When you've been in the wild for a while you start to familiarize yourself with the sounds of nature.
The croaks of frogs, how squirrels chitter and jump in the branches, the brushing of a hog through bushes. It's not conscious but it becomes second nature.
It's like how you can tell who is walking around your house by the sound and tempo of their footsteps. You get so used to the sounds of nature you realize how intrusive outside sounds can be.
A boat motor passing by at a different part of the lake stands out or the hollar of someone calling to another person is distinctly different and alarming.
So, when you start to hear new sounds and feel an unfamiliar presence it's obvious.
I almost always go fishing in the morning and get to my spot just as the sun creeps over the horizon. I started to feel like I wasn't the only one out there. At first, it wasn't much.
Just a feeling like you're being watched or an odd sound here and there.
I thought it might just be the weather changing and my body feeling the difference in the atmosphere without my brain being able to process it.
Then, things became more apparent that this wasn't a natural phenomenon. Every now and then I'd see a shadow in the trees.
A couple times when my back was turned something like a rock would hit the water close to my boat.
I only go out maybe once or twice a week so it's not like those things were enough to scare me but then things got worse.
One morning I was moving fast I guess. I got out to the lake about half an hour earlier than I normally do. I did the usual and made it out to my spot.
I was kinda excited to see what it looked like in the twilight. Almost immediately I knew something was wrong. Everything felt off. I wasn't alone enjoying the bliss of nature anymore.
The hairs on my neck were standing up and I knew I was being watched. I thought maybe there were some hunters out in the woods so I called out but no reply.
Instead of fishing I sat in the front seat of my boat and used my monocular to peer out into the woods surrounding the bank.
Staying still and making sure to keep all noises to a minimum I slowly spun around in my three-sixty chair.
My throat was dry and I was waiting for something to jump in front of the small lens I was peering through.
My whole body was on edge and my sense alert so when I heard a few sticks all crack at once I whirled around frantically trying to get a glimpse of something.
I still don't know whether I imagined this or not but I swear I saw a hand wrapped around a tree. It was grey toned but to be fair that early in the morning everything has a grey hue to it.
My eye was locked in place staring at it through the monocular. It was unmoving, very long and thin. The fingers stretched nearly halfway across the trunk of the young oak.
The flutter of a flock of birds taking off out of the trees scared me so much I almost fell out of the boat.
By the time I had regained my composure and spotted where the hand was again it was gone.
I convinced myself I had seen a vine and the spooky feeling I was experiencing was making my brain convince me it was a hand.
Nevertheless, I headed out of my usual spot and fished the rest of the morning in a very open part of the lake much closer to the landing.
I even took a week break which was pretty much unheard of from me. But you know how it goes, mowing the lawn and watching ESPN don't scratch that itch quite like fishing does.