The night started as well as could be expected considering I was sleeping on the ground in a tent. The paddle down the Contentnea Creek was pleasant other than the many times having to portage around fallen timber, and I wasn’t hauling what would be considered a light weight kayak. An old guy like myself can feel it in the lower back when doing things such as this.
After some time asleep, I started hearing faint barking. Well, it was less barking and more ‘chirping’ I guess, like short little yaps. I could tell the yapping was getting closer as it got louder. It was coming mainly from upstream.
I sat up in the tent when I realized it was more than one dog. In fact, it sounded like at least five or more. They were practically on top of me.
I turned on my electric lantern as I looked through the tent door towards the direction of the dogs. Just at the edge of the light I could tell there were not normal dogs. It was a pack of coyotes. I could not make out the number due to them constantly darting at the edge of the light. I spoke loudly while moving the flashlight and the yapping stopped immediately.
I could hear brush moving and a few splashes and knew the coyotes were gone.
The next morning I packed up the tent and bag and made sure the area was clear of any signs that I had even been there. I try to go by the ‘Leave No Trace’ pledge the best I can. I checked the two rods I had in baited with bloody shad overnight and nothing had taken the lure.
Soon I was on the water again. Of course, it was only to get to the other side of the creek so I could portage around the tree spanning the flowing water for yet another portage. Another 40 to 50 feet and I would have the second portage as well.
The things cleared up. The creek became very winding with many sandbars at the turns with deeper water on the outside portion. One particular corkscrew portion revealed the first snake I had encountered. A copperhead around three feet long but freshly fed by the lump in its tubular body entered the creek from the shoreline on the other side. I watched as it swam down the right side of the shore and exit several dozen feet behind me.
A little further downstream I came across another fallen tree but the creek was much wider. In the branches were a couple of dead shad and a small dead catfish. This lead into a long straight stretch of deep slow moving water.
I began casting from bank to bank with a white with red dot beetle spin. It did not take long for the first hit to come. I immediately casted back to the same location. It almost felt like the spinning lure may have bumped the bottom as the hit wasn’t hard. I never set the hook as it did not feel like a bite. But as I continued to reel I could tell there was a constant tug and the line was moving in various directions.
The first fish of the day was landed. A small absolutely beautifully colored largemouth bass had taken the bait.
The creek was set up for a gorgeous ending to the paddle trip. Several fish were boarded including a couple of small catfish. The stretch I had never been on opened its doors to me. Later that afternoon my wife picked me up at the ramp in Stantonsburg. Now I long to return once again to see what other secrets Contentnea may possess.