Few fish, but friends at Rudee Loop await hopeful sound of a bell

Art Mitchell, a retired city employee, fishes with friends on a cold morning on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, at Rudee Loop in Virginia Beach, Va. [John-Henry Doucette]

OCEANFRONT — Art Mitchell, a retired city worker, fished on a recent cold, early morning at Rudee Loop. 

His baited hooks hoped to entice fish in the water of a creek leading to the ocean. 

A small bell on the end of his rod meant to restore the fisherman’s attention to any bites if he was distracted by conversation. 

Mitchell tries to fish year-round, usually with three other friends. There were only two others in their group on this day. Mitchell fished with Frank Dial, his former city colleague, also retired, and Donell Davis, who met the other two men fishing some years ago.

Mitchell saw another fisherman use a bell, and figured he’d try it out. 

“We just have a good time talking,” he said.

The only drawback to that is you might miss a fish.

“We fish year round,” Dial said.

“Something to do,” Davis said. “We’ve got to get out of the house.”

This time of year might bring a trout or a striper or a drum, Mitchell said.

But so far? 

A slow morning.

At one point, he felt some weight on the line and reeled in some seaweed. He cleared it from his hooks and cast his bait out into the water.

“I’d like to catch a big fish,” he said, facing away from his rod while speaking with a visitor.

Soon the bell rang.

Mitchell turned toward the rod, which leaned against a railing. 

“Was that me?”

The rod didn’t bend, though. It stood straight and motionless and fishless.

“That was me,” Dial said.

“I thought that was a fish,” Mitchell said, smiling.

For a moment, all that rang out then was the laughter of friends.

The bell. [The Independent News]

© 2021 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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