Now and again a man such as myself needs to do something stupid. Often times it is my own idea that is the catalyst and other times I simply agree to come along for someone else’s insanity. In this instance I was merely a volunteer unwittingly tagging along. It was summer 2013 and I had taken a job at my old home town in hopes of making a little more money to pay off student debt. A perk of this job was that I was now living out in the country and could dedicate my free time after work to a lot of fishing. This was the summer I first got into fly fishing and also the first time I fished from a canoe, both of which I highly recommend.
One fine day after work, as I did on many days after work, I went to a friend’s house. As it turns out a friend of ours had been given a small 4×4 pick up that hadn’t been used in years. They immediately went to town on it, they outfitted it with a working snorkel hand crafted from aluminum tubing usually used for eaves troughs. They also finished it off with a “beautiful” paint job which was actually spray on box liner, not a bad idea when you think about it though. I luckily arrived after all the major work had been done, I showed up just in time to help install the novelty horn.
Once the horn was properly and professionally installed we loaded an old row boat, some paddles, and our fishing gear into the back of the truck. We then headed out one of us on a quad and two of us in the truck, me being a passenger. Our goal was to haul the old tin row boat through a treacherous and muddy quad trail to a lake with no road access to it. These lakes are quite common in that area… might be why they call it “The Lakeland Area.” Naturally we got stuck several times along the way, being able to barely dig ourselves out each time and keep progressing forward until disaster. We had gotten ourselves stuck very badly in the last big mud hole before the lake. We had tried pulling every direction with the quad to no avail, come to think of it… we tried every get out of mud trick we know and between the three of us is quite a wealth of knowledge.
|I tried everything I could think of: yelling, swearing, spitting, hitting it…|
Eventually around nightfall someone had mentioned, “Looks like I’m going to have to get on my quad and go get my tractor to pull us out.” I was rather furious at the fact that no one had told me this was an option… that we could have made use of several hours and several hundred mosquito bites SOONER! So before that happened we hauled the tin boat the half kilometer to the lake behind the quad and left it there for later. We then sat and waited for the tractor. It eventually showed up and yanked the little truck out without the slightest hint of struggle. By the time we got back to the house we had done no fishing and I was rather thoroughly coated in mud. I decided it was easier to strip out of my muddy clothes and drive home in my underpants, luckily I didn’t get pulled over or hit a check stop. That was about the stupidest I have felt in a good long while, coming home at nearly midnight cold and coated in mud not even having casted my rod.
About a week later I came back out to my friend’s in hopes that he and I could drive his quads out to the lake where the boat had been left and hopefully be rewarded with monster fish for our efforts. This plan was agreed to and acted upon quickly. We drove out to the lake, paddled out to the middle near a nice weed bed and started fishing, me for pike and him for perch. After a while we had caught nothing and the wind began to pick up. We then paddled ourselves into a small cove sheltered by trees and continued fishing. I couldn’t believe two things; one that a lake that size had seemingly no fish in it and two that a lake that size could remain so hidden in the woods but I guess with no fish that kind of makes sense. Just before we packed it in we found a single minnow sized fish and it had been long since dead… not an encouraging sign. Thanks to my frequent visits to the museum I was able to identify it as a “Brook Stickleback.” We packed it in without so much as a nibble, but I still like to believe there are fish in that lake.
|Monster of the deep (Approx 3 inches in length)|
We arrived back at the house and decided to try out the motor boat on the nearby frog lake. After a lovely drive in the boat and some fishing in crystal clear waters I was starting to feel that luck wasn’t in the air, or water, that day. Neither one of us had gotten as much as a nibble on our hooks. From there we opted to try another lake this one had confirmed, by others, fish in it. This lake, much like the first, had no official name but it did have a house and a small boat that belonged to my friend’s uncle, who luckily for us was nice enough to lend us the boat. We motored around the lake trying a few different spots until we found a nice patch of reeds to throw some hooks at. After a bit of casting and a lot of telling stories I finally got a bite and I really didn’t want to lose it. I set the hook deep and kept a lot of tension on the line. I didn’t waste much time getting that pike to the boat. It certainly wasn’t a monster but I was sure proud of it. Shortly after that we decided the fishing was a little slow and it was starting to get a bit late in the day anyway. We found our back to the house to realize we had just enough time for one more fishing spot.
|I am unreasonably proud of this fish|
We pulled up on the shore of yet another lake, this time near a natural sloping bank that, based on the tracks, doubled as a boat launch. We fished briefly before we were joined by a rather large and concerningly friendly dog. It was not of any breed I could identify but it sure looked nice. The only problem was that he was prone to jumping up with large muddy paws. Also he began to wear out his welcome when he would try to bite my hook on my back cast. Eventually I was able to get enough casts out to land another small pike, unfortunately the dog tried his best to make it a meal. Luckily for the fish I was able to release it before it became an evening snack.
So it seems based on our poor luck and/or skill we had fished four different lakes in a single day. Usually I just change my hook every cast if I’m not catching anything but sometimes you just have to get more drastic.
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