Monday, March 28, 2016


     New water.  This year's spring trip the Boundary Waters will be to a lake I've never paddled.  But it's not as much of a mystery as it might've been twenty years ago.  More so had it been fifty like my first trip to the waters of the Arrowhead.  Back then we fished lakes without a clue as to what we might or might not catch.  That we tied into some smallmouth bass came as a complete surprise.  Same thing back in the early '90s concerning the little lakes near the cabin.  You root out a way to get onto the lake then start searching for Lord knows what.  That's what my mind's eye sees when it conjures up mew water.
     The lake Brian and I will fish is not a mystery these days even though we've never seen it.  The internet has provided us with the fish we can hope to catch, where to find them, probable sizes and what the campsites look like.  Dozens of photos provided through the wonder of computers and communication satellites.  So is it new water?  Yes, but it sure's not an unknown.
     Yet there still remains a mystery or two, weather and bug hatches.  Brian and I have spent seven nights camping in the Arrowhead in the last two years and haven't shipped a drop.  Even the skeeters and black flies have left us alone.  Makes me nervous.  In in the northwoods of Minnesota there's always a piper standing down the road.  How far is never known till he taps you on the shoulder.  Then you better have the rain gear near at hand.  And maybe a head net.
     I have no great expectations.  Small ones yes.  Might be different if my son-in-law and grandson were coming up.  There's a thrill in sharing something as wonderful as wilderness camping and fishing. And the flip side of knowing the excitement and fears of the newcomers.  Canoe towing pike balanced by wilderness bears.  Camping out and noises outside the tent in the dark.  The possibility of shared wonder with Ryan and Jakob would no doubt get me jabbering away on the drive up.  I do that a lot.  Do my best to paint a picture of what the next few days will be like and don't do a good job of it.  Create expectations that only pan out one trip out of ten.  Might be best to keep a leash on my mouth and let reality speak for itself when the time comes.
     Yeah I'm happy to be in my seventieth year but there's a part of being ten once again that has its appeal.  A man with many thousands of casts under his belt knows well the odds of a lunker being at the end of his line.  A ten year old has expectations.  Big ones.  Knows the fish of a lifetime hasn't yet been seen.  Makes me happy there's a little bit of kid left I haven't outgrown.  Just enough to keep me on my toes with each cast.  Pick a likely spot, lay my lure or fly as best I can and work it in.  Small expectations are reason enough to pay attention.
     For now Ryan and Jakob are no more than maybes.  Brian is for sure, as is our upcoming trip.  When I made the permit reservation it looked like an early spring in the Arrowhead, maybe too early.  Not so anymore.  Seems like winter is holding onto three feet of snow up there.  Temperatures this weekend are supposed to drop below zero.  Gets me thinking of frozen lakes to the end of May.  It's happened before, might happen again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Leaving the Southland

     Another winter of pecking out a story in the Uncle Emil blog.  Figured to write something like a trilogy when I started "Canada" back in December of 2013.  Now it's kinda done.  Edited, re-edited, revised and rethought.  Mostly makes sense but now I don't know what to do with it.  Or where to go from here?  And am a little deflated after the last, full edit.  What to write next?
     Along the way I've been thinking of canoe paddles.  Made a fistful last year and have intentions of making more.  At art and craft fairs I've been looking at the work of other woodworkers.  Mostly I stare at cutting boards and the patterns used.  And consider if they could be incorporated into a paddle.  Seems like thievery but when I speak with the craftsmen, they don't seem to mind at all.  Even offer a tip or two.
     One of the craftsmen had a half dozen canoe paddles for sale.  Walnut grip and blade cap.  Loom and blade of what appeared to be light pine and dark-stained spruce.  He was asking seventy-five bucks apiece.  Hah!  The man was giving them away.  He said he was from Arkansas and was told down there his price was too high.  Had I not been making my own I'd've bought one for sure.
     As for what's planned when I get home, I figure it has a lot to do with confidence.  Try something that seems far fetched as to the alignment of the blade strips and if it doesn't work, so be it.  Rather than use strips of wood as they come from the board, fabricate them from multiple pieces of wood.  Random chess board - I started writing checker board but figured chess had more class - of color.  Had I more talent and a better band saw, inlay would be a possibility.  Who knows what they'll end up looking like?  The best part is I'm making them for myself and to give away.  Should I bust one up one the rocks I'm only out my time and twenty bucks.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Spring Trip

     I'd no intentions of making lures this year.  Still had a pile of unused spinners from last year and the year before.  Should homemade lures and canoe paddles become collector's items I'd be set for life.  Of course I'll make a few new paddles.  Pretty ones.  Maybe even use them in the Boundary Waters.  But lures?
     Then it changed.  Not all of a sudden.  Things don't happen that quickly with me these days.  Takes a while for my brain to grind out a few hints then even longer for me to accept the proposal.  Might've happened quicker had a few of the voices in my head learned to keep their traps shut.
     If you've read any of my entries you probably know I'm mostly a bass and pike fisherman.  Might have to do with them being suckers for in-line spinners.  But they're not the target for this year's trip to the Boundary Waters.  Nope, walleyes and perch.  Our entry permit says we have to spend our entire trip dead ended on a single lake and that's what's in the lake.  That and a few tons of suckers.
     I blame it on my nephew Brian.  He's been hankering for a meal of one or the other on both of our previous trips.  Don't know if it's the flavor or if he just likes to kill and eat something once in a while.  Doesn't matter, if that's what he wants that's what we'll do.  Seeing as how he's the only human being who'll do this kind of trip with me, I better keep him happy.
     So the plan is to make a few walleye friendly trolling rigs and some hair and feather jigs.  Goes without saying the trolling lures will be educated spinners.  Like Winnie the Pooh I'm a man of little brain.  Besides, it's always a little more fun to catch 'em on homemade.