Voices from the river

Voices from the River: Riding the storm out

By Mark Taylor

Everyone goes through slumps.

So I’m trying to be understanding as I deal with one that’s been affecting me recently.

Our regional weather forecasters are struggling. They whiffed again today.

The forecast called for a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms at 5 p.m. Until then: sunny, hot and humid.

They got the hot and humid part right. The sunny part, not so much. We got hit by a hold-on-to-your-hats thunderstorm early in the afternoon.

If I’m at the home office, it’s not a big deal. It just means that I have to deal with a dog that freaks out and is going to park herself at my feet.

But I wasn’t at the office. I was on the river.

I’d hustled down to a spot about a mile from the house because I was itching for what I sometimes call a “lunch vacation.”

Ten minutes to get there and get in the water. Thirty minutes of fishing. Ten minutes to get home.

The thunderstorm popped up pretty much out of nowhere, right over me, just as I got to the water.

I’m no Ben Franklin, but I know that being in the middle of a river waving a lightning rod is not wise. I was near a bridge so I took cover.

I pulled up the radar on my phone. It looked like it would pass quickly so I decided to stick it out instead of making a run for it.

Let’s just say the storm, like Cousin Eddie, didn’t depart with quite the same speed at which it appeared.

Like all of us, I’ve waited out my share of storms. Never was it worse than one August day in 2000, when a photographer and I were paddling a canoe on Virginia’s New River for a newspaper assignment.

We got ashore just as the torrential rain started, so we tipped over the boat and huddled underneath to wait it out. And wait we did. For two hours the rain came in sheets, the wind blowing it horizontally into our “shelter.” The only positive was that when we could finally start paddling again the river was high and rolling so we made excellent time to the take-out.

Today’s storm moved on in about a half-hour. I couldn’t leave without making at least a few casts, so I plopped a black popper along the bank and quickly caught a couple of small redbreast sunfish and a hand-sized rock bass.

Fishing can actually be really good right after a storm passes and I wished I could stretch the trip out. That wasn’t possible. I had work to do. Plus, a quick look at the radar showed another sketchy weather cell forming to the west. It was time to get back to work, and back to the shaking dog ready to plant herself at my feet.

Mark Taylor is Trout Unlimited’s eastern communications director. He lives in Roanoke, Va., about a mile from the city’s namesake river, home to bass, sunfish and, during the winter, state-stocked trout.

By Mark Taylor. A native of rural southern Oregon, Mark Taylor has lived in Virginia since serving a stint as a ship-based naval officer in Norfolk. He joined the TU staff in 2014 after a 20-year run as a newspaper journalist, the final 16 as the outdoors editor of the Roanoke Times. A graduate of Northwestern University, he lives in Roanoke with his wife and, when they're home from college, his twin daughters.