Thirty-eight above and raining hard in the early afternoon. The heat of the day. As good as it'll get today. The forecast is for more of the same till next weekend. Miserable enough to keep me inside and squeeze out a thought or two.
Once again fishing will be on during the first week in June. The Deans have committed themselves and I'll be there no matter what. Hopefully the ice will be gone by then and it won't be a day like the one pouring down outside the window.
I believe this will be our ninth year. Oddly enough, though we've gotten better bringing fish to the boat and learned of more lakes, I can't say the fishing has improved. Maybe it's my fog of memory but I believe the last couple of years haven't been all that good on the water. Only one lake hasn't disappointed. Maybe it never will.
When I first set eyes on it after a couple of miles tire tearing track and a sand pit or two, Little Jake Lake (not its real name) immediately felt like home. Personal. The kind of lake you'll only have to share once in a blue moon with shore fishing local kids. Sixty years ago they'd have had twelve foot cane poles, line, bobber, hook and worm. On that first day the three of them had the same basic getup but the cane and line had evolved into bottom shelf spinning combos. Not as organic but they could fling the rigs a whole lot farther. 'Spose they could have worked the whole lake shore had they wanted to bushwhack. But a glance at their stringer told me they were doing just fine on the hundred feet of beach at the end of the tree and poison ivy lined trail.
Lois and I paddled the fifty acres that day. She, 'cause it was eighty degrees under a deep blue sky and I simply wanted to get the lay of the water. Spent a lot of time looking down into the cabbage and coon tail beds over the next half hour. Bass and bluegill heaven. Still is.
Even before we reached the end of the two track I knew we were approaching good water. Simply put I could feel it. I'm no clairvoyant, no seer, not even a wise old man. But I do fish and I do like lakes that make me feel like I'm the only person in the world. Like the Apocalypse could happen and I'd miss it. Come out of the bush to find civilization a thing of the past. Missed the Last Judgement 'cause I was on good water and could only say, "Well I'll be, can you beat that?" From the moment I noticed it on the map something told me Little Jake was just that kind of lake.
So, I return every year, spinning rod with the Deans, fly rod when alone. Maybe this year blow a few bucks and buy a twelve foot noodle spinning rod and shore fish twenty-first century style. Neo-retro hoot.
Jake wasn't the first lake of the gut feeling. Wedge Lake up in Grass River Provincial Park was much the same. With its hundred plus islands spread over two thousand acres it simply had to be good. That it required a sixteen mile paddle and near mile portage was merely a plus. Maybe a necessity to keep a few of the pretenders out.
Back in '66 it was East Pike Lake in the BWCA. All it took was to see it at the end of the twenty minute portage. Pine, birch and cedar lined with a rock and rubble shore. Looked like the lake in Eden where Adam first named the smallmouth bass.
On the great lakes all it usually takes is a single glance and you know you're there. It make take a few hours, or days, to learn the water but on the truly special lakes, you will. And enjoy getting skunked as much as the times when you had to hit 'em with the paddle to keep 'em out of the canoe.
There's more of those lakes out there. That I know for sure. With luck I may yet find another. Even have one in mind at the moment. When I get there I'll consult my navel, "So, how does this one feel to you?"