Wednesday, July 4, 2012


     I figured they'd had enough for one day. Six hour drive up north. And an hour prep and drive time to the state forest. Two portages and time on the water. Long day. But they were pumped and who was I to say no? Hell, we were a two minute downhill carry to the trout lake on the one hand. There was dinner to be made back at the cabin on the other. Guess you could say the tilt of the earth came to the rescue. We were nine days from the summer solstice and still had four hours of daylight in our pockets. The decision was made in less than a scan of the group. We loaded the gear in the boats and headed downhill. The prospect of trout is a siren's call to those raised on bullheads.
     As we got ready to push off I gave them my whole store of knowledge as to trout fishing in a stocked lake. Put on one of the little spinners I'd made and start casting. They're out there somewhere. Maybe shallow. Maybe deep. Maybe in-between. They are where they are. Also take into account that I ain't caught one in twenty years.
     Like most trout lakes, this one was tiny. So tiny the three of them were having a hard time grasping the situation. I just knew they were looking at the points and bays and thinking bass, pike or walleyes. Hard not to when that's the way they'd come to figure water. My fault. Larry and Ryan have their own tactics. No doubt about that. They'll go right in the pads if the conditions call for that. They've learned cover and structure mean food. And food means fish.
      But trout like to be comfy. Temperature is everything to them. Structure means diddly. Given time Larry and Ryan would figure it out. But this early evening we didn't have much time. I watched them paddle into a bay. Like I said, who was I to say they wouldn't catch any in shallow water.
     Eldon, on the other hand, is a kept man. Sits in the front of the canoe and has to go where I take him. We started by working in twenty feet of water. Cast in. Cast out. Fan cast the area with the idea they could be anywhere. A plan without a plan. Seems I've spent a lot of my life stumbling from event to event with no underlying plan. You'd think trout fishing would be right up my alley. Poor Eldon.
     What can I say? I'm still embarrassed. It's not so much that mine was the first rainbow trout. It's more that it was the only one. A proper host shares. Can't say we didn't all had hits. Mine was simply the only fish that impaled itself. Possibly it's another example that the fish know who's on the other end of the line. I've caught trout before. The others haven't. The trout know that and maybe fall prey to an 'oh well, the dude knows what he's doing so it's okay to get caught' attitude. Not my fault when that happens.
     An hour of casting practice followed and told us it was time to bag it. Not a lot of action but a good time on a pristine body of water.
     Back at the cabin the fire pit was match ready. Earlier in the day I'd had the time to gather up some birch bark and an armful of dry twigs. Above that was balanced a teepee of split oak. Oak adds a fine flavor to meat. No doubt carcinogenic, but I try not to think about that. When I was young the inevitable consequences of minor vices like cooking over oak had little effect on me. I was gonna live forever. Or at least another fifty years. Like there was much difference. Nowadays I'll give those consequences at least a passing thought before striking the match. If you ever saw the grill we use it'd be obvious that oak smoke is the cleanest part of the operation. Oh well, it sure eats good.
     At home there's a pile of dry apple and maple wood. All gathered for this trip. It's still there and now it's on the list for next year.
     Maybe it's a sign of aging but about all we can do after dishes are done is to sit on our kiesters for an hour. Who can remember what passes as our conversation? We say and discuss life in general. Sometimes our feet. Rarely do politics and religion come up. If ever. In the scheme of things up north the sound of the bats scritching their way out from under the steel roof seems to make a whole lot more sense than whatever Barack Obama or Mitt Romney have to say. Maybe if presidential candidates ate mosquitos...?

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