Everywhere I go I find a pal
Peter Weinschenk, Editor, The Record-Review
There is no end to what you can discover in the Wisconsin outdoors.
I learned that on my fly fishing trip Saturday to the Prairie River in Lincoln County.
I retraced steps I took years ago on the river looking for trout, snaking around cobble stone riffles and splashy spillways.
I hooked a couple of brookies, their bellies colored bright orange. This is a signal of the fall. The fly of the evening was a Mahogany dun placed at the middle of deeper pools.
Towards sunset, I experienced something remarkable and new. I still don’t know what it was, not really. I only have guesses. It was a discovery.
What I saw (and, yes, I saw it) was a real mind bender.
Here’s the story. I had tossed my fly in front of a rock where I noticed a major fish swirl, when on my right, I saw a six to seven inch brownish green blur flying in the air about two feet above the flowing river. The blur made a loud buzzing noise. When an instant passed, the blur and noise were gone.
In all my years of trout fishing, this was a brand new experience. I was stumped, really stumped.
Here are my guesses:
_ It could have been a flying fish. This is a remote possibility given that the planet’s flying fish live in warm ocean currents near Japan, Vietnam and China. Still, it’s a possibility.
_ N It could have been a bizarre frog. Maybe there is an amphibian that can leap out of a river, make a large buzzing sound and then head back into the stream. This is a longshot. I saw what appeared to be fluttering wings.
_ It could have been a moth. There are several families of moths in Wisconsin that are five inches across. These include the Cecropias, Polyphemus and Luna moths. All of these bugs live in forest and wetlands, but it’s not reported whether these moths can swim and take off out of water. There are lots of moths, of course, that live in water as part of their life cycle. Maybe an old, dying moth fell in the river and, in one great effort, tried to fly into the air, buzzing furiously.
_ It could have been a bat. A bat would have been about the right size of the thing I saw. And the timing would be good. I saw my fluttering object at dusk, just when bats feed on insects. I wouldn’t expect bats to emerge from the water, but it turns out that bats are great swimmers. So, perhaps, a bat, swimming with the current, saw me and decided to go airborne, flapping his wings to gain altitude and get away. The buzzing noise is a problem. Bats, I don’t think, buzz. They squeak.
_ It could have been a baby Hodag. It’s not well understood where Hodags, known to frequent Rhinelander, come from exactly. Maybe from under rocks in the Prairie River. While in air, they follow the sounds of country music to their adult habitat.
The beauty of all of this is that, yes, I saw a truly strange thing in the untamed Wisconsin woods and it is a genuine mystery.
It keeps me coming back for more.
Contact Peter Weinschenk at pweinschenk@ tpprinting.com