Saturday, August 4, 2012

Jake and the Art of Bass fishing II

     Day two was at a lake on which anybody can catch bass. And Ryan did. And Jakob did. Me, I manned the boat. Got used to bein' in the crew back in my Army days and ain't left it since.
     We were in no hurry to leave the cabin. No need 'cause of the lake. Good weather, bad weather, full sun, mid-day, it rarely matters. Today it did. Since Jake hadn't ever caught anything, he didn't know how slow it was.
     When it comes to lakes, I never learned to share. Poor upbringing I guess. My heart dropped a half inch when we hit the landing. There sat a truck with a rack for a couple of kayaks and a boat trailer hitched to the back. A herd. Tried to write it off with an "oh well, at least they're paddle boats."
     I lie to myself way too much. And with a six year old along I've gotta watch my tongue. Pretend I'm a mature man, the kind a kid would like to grow up to be. Near as I can figure no one ever grows up to be that man. Best you can hope for is to not slash the tires of someone who has every bit as much right to the water as you do. Vindictiveness is not a good thing to pass on down the genetic ladder. Or so I've been told.
     The north bay is about forty acres, holds fish and was ours alone. If that was our option it'd do the trick. Took a half hour of putzing, zig-zagging and general snafuing before we found some bass. Not a lot but enough.
     Jake's first was around a pound. He played the bass by himself with his grandpa's hand hovering over the rod handle's butt just in case. Seemed only natural that he'd crank the fish all the way to the tip. Probably would have cranked it down through the guides and onto the reel if he was strong enough (if you ever read this Jakob, being made fun of can be a good thing. Takes the edge off of being too wonderful. And it's what an old guy like me says to start treating you like the man you'll become someday).
     Like the old gray mare, my memory ain't what it used to be. When I conjured up our time on the water I saw trees, lily pads, lake and sunlight. And three guys in a jon boat staring back at me with a look that asked, "Sooo, big shot, what ya gonna have us do? We gonna catch fish or just sit here basking in the glory of your blank mind?" Embarrassed, I had to e-mail Ryan to learn the answer. He had no such problem. Also had five minutes of video and four hundred photos.
     I remembered Jakob as being excited by his first bass. But you know how sketchy memories can be. That is if they exist at all. In times past, when catching big pike in Canada, I'd have liked a minute's video to recall exactly what went on. The words we said. The excitement of the moment. Did Allan and I sound like sage fishermen? Or should we have worn oversized shoes and clown makeup?
     Jake's video told the tale as no memory could. His pure excitement and the explosive gleam in his eyes said it all. It was a big deal to him. He may someday forget most everything about that moment but not everything. Like mine of East Pike, he'll remember he was truly excited, the flashing light on the water and the feel of the northwoods. As a grandfather, the video told me the moment was all I could have hoped for. 'Course it could have been a seven pounder with a two pound trout in its mouth, been ripped off his jig by a bald eagle and returned to a hovering flying saucer.
     The second bass was much bigger. Near the top end for this lake. Jakob had it to the boat when the bass gave him his first lesson in spitting the hook. Hopefully not his last. Also his first taste of the big one that got away. Classic moments in fishendom.
     Finally we sucked it up and puttered off to the south end of the lake where the horde awaited us. By then I'd learned most of the pros and cons of a trolling motor. I'd hoped for a top speed of six or seven miles an hour. When that idea of speed was put in my bonnet is beyond me. Blind stab in the dark is more like it. Turned out we moved about as fast as a leisurely paddle in a canoe. However, we ran a straight course so I guess it was faster. And there were three of us instead of two. And we could stand up. Didn't have to pee but we could have. Ability sometimes negates necessity.
     Positioning the boat was another matter. In a canoe I do most of the positioning with a one handed sculling stroke. Grip the paddle at the blade top and draw, pry or paddle. Simple and efficient. The motor was okay but not in the same league as the paddle. Old dog and new tricks problem I suppose.
     Turned out there was only one boat in the far end. And it had a motor. Seeing as how it was nearing lunch time - for people, not fish as it turned out - they blew out of there within minutes of our arrival. Might also have had to do with the fishing shutting down. Good thing we brought sunscreen.
     We gave it a go for an hour then hummed our way back to the landing.

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