A decade or two ago a lot of my dreams were about becoming and what I was searching for. In some of them I found a handful of lakes no one else seemed to know about. Small and out of the way but they weren't so far off the path other people couldn't find them. But nobody else did. Just me and Al. The fish weren't big. Hell, that there fish at all would of surprised most anyone. But they were there.
The lakes had little in common with each other besides being so common no one seemed to notice them. Or much care about them even if noticed. Drive by without so much as a passing thought.
Me, I got a kick out of them even if they weren't spectacular. Catchin' fish on water where a two pound bass was a lunker was a thrill. Guess I was a small fish, small pond kind of guy. And happy to be able to see treasure in the lesser things.
Recently it dawned on me I'd spent the last fifteen years of my fishing life looking for and finding lakes just like the ones I used to dream about. Huh, imagine that. Don't always have them to myself. And it pisses me off just a little bit when I don't. But it's a big world with all kinds of people, some about the same as me. Seeing me on the same small water might just piss them off just a little bit also.
Accessibility is the key. On a mid fall morning late last century - I like the sound of that. Almost like we're into an archetypical moment - Allan and I spent ninety minutes of the best bass fishing we'll ever see. Maybe a dozen fish, no more than that. But, the size, pushing four pounds average. A couple well over five pounds. Al had never caught bass that big. In a tiny bay off an oak covered island, the first one stripped line repeatedly. When it ran under the boat Al thought for sure he had a large pike. In the deep bog stain she'd grown to be black as the ace of spades. Had a mouth so big, a wrong move and Al coulda fallen in. By good-old-boy-down-south standards these weren't huge fish, just nice sized. But here in the red and white pines they were huge.
The morning was deeply overcast with banks of fog here and there. What wind there was puffed from the south. When it turned to the north it did so gently at first. Then hit us full force with a wall of cold rain. Goodbye summer, hello winter. Probably coulda watched the mercury fall in a thermometer. That was all she wrote for the weekend.
The access off the minimum maintenance road was a trenched and mudded two track. Ruts deep enough to make the oil pan nervous. Next year the fishing was nearly as good on the hundred acres. A gem for sure. Then the forest service got busy and cut a new drive. Smooth and graveled. Why not? This was prime water. Too bad that the improvements made it possible for anybody with a pickup and bass boat to work their way in.
We've gone back a few times since and been skunked most every time. Kinda ironic how that works. A treasure that few can use turns into a mediocrity in the name of improvement. A person could get all philosophical about that but I'll pass.