Op-Ed: Chasing the Shoaff Lake Wolly Bugger

October 12, 2016

THOSE OF YOU WRESTLING with the various glooms of this presidential election might be heartened by what I have learned about politics as the president of the Shoaff Lake Shoreline Anglers League.

The League does not permit the use of a tongue-twisting acronym, a sure sign that an organization has untrustworthy aspirations. Nor does it make public its membership, being two, one of whom, a computer technician with government contracts, prefers to remain anonymous.

The Shoaff Lake Shoreline Anglers League is an environmentally sound, nonpartisan action committee. The membership carries a card pledging to “catch and release” any fish of any species so foolhardy as to mistake our wildly patterned lures for nourishment. And it does not accept support from the Koch Foundation.

In the winter we prepare for the season — when the aquatic polls open in the spring, if you will — by clamping Wapsi fly-tying vises to our dinning room tables, grabbing bunches of bucktail and working up our interpretations of Clouser Minnows, Wolly Buggers, Muddlers and Pearl Zonkers, all knotted with a flourish using our Dr. Slick Whip Finishers. Then we sit back and admire our creations, imagining the trepidation they will cause the Shoaff Lake bass population.

The meticulous preparation, however, invariably yields disappointment. This is so even though the Shoaff Park bass — let’s face it — are not very smart. They cannot fathom the folly of Tax Increment Financing, for instance, nor do they grasp the genius of an unappropriated entitlement.

But they have great instincts. They know that it is going to rain a week from Thursday, that the shad are schooling across the lake over by the Bog Lillies and that the temperature this last hour dropped a fraction of a degree as a front rolls in. And most discouraging to those of us in the Shoaff Lake Anglers League, they know that the Wolly Bugger we have just thrown at them on that painfully obvious string is a little off color and a bit too big by Shoaff Lake standards.

A lake full of dumb bass, as that great Austrian fisherman Friedrich Hayek taught us, can be trusted to make better decisions than a roomful of the smartest anglers — even those heading up the Democratic and Republican Parties or, for that matter, the Shoaff Lake Shoreline Anglers League itself.

— Craig Ladwig


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