If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Bushman Goes Fishing and Hiking Part V

The thick fog lay heavy upon the water, visibility was down to within a few yards.  The air was impressively still and each breath seemed as if it were coated in syrup.  The weighted air pressing down upon my skin felt like a heavy, wet wool coat and I retreated back into the cabin as drops of rain began to patter atop my head.

Inside the cabin, the light was dim at best.  I shuddered, trying to rid myself of the cold dampness I had carried in from outside.  I could just make out the stove and the percolating coffee pot that rested on its chipped porcelain top.  The faint smell of last night’s dinner still remained in the air around the stove, fried fish and skillet potatoes.  I felt for the box of matches on the shelf next to the sink.

Striking the little blue head first against the smooth side of the box and then the correct side the match flared to life, a flicker of warmth and hope on this abysmal morning.  Quickly I twisted the plastic dial on the front of the stove and lowered the match under the coffee pot.  Whoompf!  The burner ignited and I shuffled my way back to the confines of my warm sleeping bag to await the song of the percolator and the start of the day.

After a few days of sunny warm weather, a front moved in, bringing with it clouds, moisture and heavy fog.  Sometimes the wind would blow and others it would be dead still.  Not a ripple on the lake.  We fished anyway.  Sometimes we would wait out a squall and other times we would be trapped in it out on the lake.  Ever thankful for our rain gear, which allowed us to stay out in the inclement weather, we fished on.

This particular morning was the morning we chose to take a little adventure to the lake directly to our North.  This lake was known as Oswald Lake.  On the far shore of Oswald Lake, there existed another cabin, owned by the same outfitter as the one in which we resided.  The cabin was currently not in use by another fishing party and was sitting dormant, waiting for its next visitors.

Our plan was to take our boat to the southern end of our lake, where another dock was located and park the boat there.  A 15-minute walk through the dense woods would bring us to a dock located on Oswald Lake.  The outfitter keeps a boat at that dock so folks from our lake can also fish the other lake.

Of course, the weather just had to be bad on this particular morning so we had coffee, breakfast and a bit of a wait before we decided, to hell with it, we’re going anyways.  So we packed a lunch, broke down our gear for transport through the woods and picked a few of our favorite jigs and lures, along with some fresh night crawlers and piled into the wet boat.

A few moments later we arrived at the southern dock and began our offload and after a bit of a perilous jump off the dock we entered the thick and now soaking wet, woods.

I had planned on videoing more of the journey through the woods but my phone/camera decided it didn’t want to co-operate.

After a soaking wet hike through the woods (glad we had our rain gear on) we arrived at the dock on Oswald Lake.  Our first obstacle was to get the boat off of the dock and into the water.  The second was getting it out of the extremely shallow water so it would float with us in it.  The depth next to the dock was about ankle deep.  For this, I had to remove my socks and shoes (which were soaked through and through by our hike through the rainforest) and tug the boat, with Pops in it, to deeper water. 

Soon we were floating and headed out into the lake.  To set the scene a bit better for you.  Oswald Lake is about 4 times the size of our lake and a heck of a lot deeper too.  The rain was coming down and the wind was picking up as we headed out into the lake.  Armed with a copycat map we had a few spots to try first. 

I motored out through the shallows into deeper water and cranked up the motor to full speed and that’s when I noticed the “chug” in the motor.  I didn’t think it was too big of a deal, at first, but after we tried a few spots here and there without much success, we left one side of the lake, to cross it in its entirety, and try a spot on the other side.  During out ride, the motor began to act up a bit more and as luck would have it the wind and waves began to rise quickly.

Once we reached the opposite shore we set up to drift alongside the shore  but the wind and waves were getting worse by the minute and before long the waves were rolling over the back of the boat and it wouldn’t be too long before it was full and we were sunk. 
I hollered at my Dad that I was ‘’ most uncomfortable “ with this situation and we agreed to head for the empty cabin and at least wait out the storm or swap boats and motors for either a larger boat or a better motor.

Arriving at the empty cabin we tied the boat up and stepped on land.  I was quite relieved to be off the dangerous water.  We took a few minutes to check out the cabin and its surroundings and we both wholeheartedly agreed that our cabin was way better.  There are no people around in this area.  There are no roads or trails which one could follow to access this cabin, so everything is left unlocked. 

I went around to the back of the cabin and turned on the propane tank so we could boil water to make our soup.  We cooked lunch and filled our bellies with hot noodles and broth.  Once finished I turned the gas back off, washed our spoons and placed them back in the drawer, and we left the cabin.  On our way back to the boat, I grabbed a spare motor off the shore and swapped it with the faulty one on our boat.

As we headed back into the middle of the lake we decided it was just too nasty to fish, especially on an unfamiliar lake.  Our ride back to the other dock was uneventful.  The new motor ran fine and we were headed into the wind, so it was a better ride.  Other than the big splashes the boat made crashing over the waves we made it back to the other dock without issue.

Safely docking the boat we made our way back through the jungle, to our boat, and safely back to our cabin.  We were both wet, cold and tired.  Not much happened the rest of the day.  The chill had settled into the cabin so I lit a fire in the little wood stove and soon it was warm and toasty inside. 
Below are some photos of the other cabin.

Overall shot of the cabin

Inside the screened in porch

Inside the main room

The view from shore.  The cabin was situated at the end of a long protected peninsula so the waves were not bad here at all.

Even though our adventure didn’t turn out the way we had hoped it was still exciting and will always be remembered. 

Stay tuned for the last episode coming up next week and then some huge news the week after that!


Ooops!  I forgot to add the fish counts and journal entries.

Monday - 15 fish in the AM, 5 fish during mid-day and 17 fish in PM- warm 82 degrees south winds 25-30  Warm, partly sunny, winds from the south.  Found some hot spots on the lake.  Out at 6AM in at 10:30 AM.  Fished a bit during the day.  Trolled entire west shore south of the cabin for pike. Caught one big one 8 lbs 10 oz.

Tuesday- 15 fish in AM, 21 fish in the PM  Low pressure moving in rain and winds out of the Northeast.  Rainy, cold, stiff winds out of the NE.  Fish were still biting but had to do a lot of running around to get them.  Went south through channel to the lagoon.  6' deep caught one walleye.

Wednesday AM 9:30- 1:30-27 fish.  PM 44 fish all nice size.  5 AM hard rain & wind.  Went back to bed.  Woke up at 7 AM to heavy fog & rain.  Sitting here drinking coffee, staring out the window.  Caught 2 mice overnight.  Will try fishing after breakfast...maybe.  Finally went out at 9 AM.  Still raining but fog had lifted.  Winds east switching to SE.  Worked the weed bed & in front of the cabin.  Got a few.  Went down to the SE end & drifted over the drop off from east to west.  Re-set drift every 8-10 minutes.  Caught a ton of fish.  27 total.  1-26" pike.  Drop off goes from 12'-20' in about a 30-foot drift.  Fish are hanging there.  Trolled into the wind along that line caught 6.  Wednesday night.  Hard wind out of SE.  Whitecaps.  Went out at 5:30 PM.  Fished the point numbered 4 on the map.  Found a shoal or reef at 7' depth.  15' on either side of it.  Slammed the fish on this spot.  Snagged on the reef or rocks a few times but able to reverse over it and un-snag.  Caught 44 fish in under 3 hours.  3 and 4 poles going off at the same time.

Thursday -Oswald lake, 3 fish.  We did return to Beattie and fished the PM.  27 fish caught.
Awoke at 5 AM to head to Oswald lake.  At 5:20 the rain set in pretty steady.  Decided to go back to bed & try later.  As of 9:30 still raining.  Breakfast and coffee for now.  Headed to Oswald lake @10:30 - still raining but oh well.  Got to Oswald & headed out into lake.  Waves got big.  2' high.  Boat motor kept cutting oput so we headed for cabin.  Had lunch @ cabin, switched out motors & beat feet for home.  Kinda scary in the middle of the bigger lake w/ a small boat.  Returned to Beattie just before big rain hit.  Went out at 5:30 caught 27 fish, 2 real nice ones.  25" and 21", both released.  Weird night - fish were sporadic.

Total fish caught so far--237

Friday, September 18, 2015

Bushman Goes Fishing Part IV

I opened my eyes, at least I think I did.  It was the deepest and most pure blackness I had ever witnessed.  Blinking several times I reached towards my face, my fingers crawling and racing their way up my chin and then onto my cheek and ending up at my eye.
“Ouch”, I whispered as I jabbed myself in the eyeball with my rough, calloused finger.  Geez, my eyes are open.  I felt a brief moment of panic.  This is what it felt like to be blind.  I swallowed hard and my chest began to get heavy and I felt as if I couldn’t get a breath of fresh air. 

I sat upright and felt for the window ledge.  It was there last night before I fell asleep.  It had to be there again.  If not, I was doomed, perhaps I would keel over from a panic attack.  My fingers fumbled their way up the smooth paneling, which in the light was made to look like real wood, and bumped into the window sill.  I breathed a sigh of relief as my fingers curled upon the small wooden sill and I sat up and rolled to my knees.  I peered into the inky pre-dawn world outside through the window for some sign of life.  A glimpse of anything visual.  As far as I knew, right then and there, I was blind. 
I blinked furiously until my eyes began to water and then suddenly, as if a cloud  passed by, I saw the smallest wink of a light, a star, and then another and another.  The longer I stared out the window the more stars became visible as whatever cloud front moved on by.  Within 2 minutes I was staring at a veritable wonderland.  So many twinkles in the sky that one could not even begin to count.  It was like stepping outside on that winter morning to watch the sun sparkle off every new snowflake that had fell the night before.  I gasped and held my breath.  I had never seen anything so beautiful before.
Lost in my thoughts and entranced by the night sky I remained that way for some time.  Soon I began to see a brightness behind the trees on the opposite side of the lake.  Dawn had arrived to steal away the blackness and return us to the land of the light.

“Holy crap,” I whispered in a rush, “We are going to be late.”

I jumped from the bed and scrambled around on the unused bunk bed next to me until I found the small, cold cylindrical object.  I thumbed the button and a shaft of dazzling light illuminated the door to my bunk room.  Opening my door, I made my way into the kitchen to the stove where the night before I had pre-made two pots of coffee.  All I had to do was turn on the gas and wait for the sounds of the pots dancing and bubbling as they percolated.   The rhythmic, “ baa- doo be doop, baa -doo be doop” would begin in a few moments, but first I must visit the outside world.
I stepped out of the door and onto the small landing at the top of the stairs.  I thought to myself, “There could be bears you know?”  It didn’t matter.  Racing off into the brush I went, and after a moment I returned, scampering up the steps all the while waiting for the claws to sink into my back.  Reaching the top of the steps, I giggled out loud at my silliness and went back inside the cabin.  The “baa- doo bee doop” was just beginning and I could smell the invigorating scent of coffee filling the cabin.

It was Sunday, and after a few cups of coffee from one pot (the other pot filled our two thermoses) we dressed, grabbed our gear and headed out to the dock.  The sun was just beginning to poke above the horizon.  Mist hovered over the water and the scene laid out before us was mesmerizing. 

I stepped into the boat and watched as the rippled spread their way across the calm dark waters.  Pops climbed in after me and we untied from the dock and pushed our way out into the lake.

We fished all morning and as it began to get hot we decided to head in for breakfast.  It was around 10:30-11:00 AM.  We had caught a total of 23 fish that morning.  Our stringer weighed heavy in the water.  After a giant breakfast of sausage and eggs on an English muffin, we cleaned our fish and sat down to gather a game plan for the remainder of the afternoon.  It was getting hot and the wind was picking up.  We watched through the three large windows in the front of the cabin as the chop on the water turned to swells and soon white caps could be seen on the lake.  Too rough to fish, almost too hot to fish as well.

“Now what do you want to do?” I asked Pops.

A nap was out of the question as the temperatures in the cabin were rising steadily and the wind was out of the south so not much breeze was blowing through the windows.

“I’m going to go out on the dock and check the wind and waves,” I told him.

Exiting the cabin I made my way down the steps and once I was a few yards away from the cabin the breeze, or rather I should say, the wind, gusted through the brushy openings in the forest and washed my face with wonderful refreshment.  I made it down to the dock and stood there, in nothing but shorts and sandals, with my arms spread apart, (reminiscent of Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic) soaking up the cooling wind.  It was strong and blowing steady.

I rushed back up to the cabin.  “Grab a cold beer and a lawn chair, Pops, it feels great out by the water.”  We plucked a few cold ones from the cooler and headed down to the dock where we sat and had a few beers until the sun began to outweigh the wind and we retreated to the shade.  We found a nice spot where the shade met with a little breeze and there we sat and enjoyed the scenery, each other, and a few cold beers.

Only after a while did my bad habits creep in and I began to feel like I should be doing something. 

“We should have brought some cards or dice or something,” I told Pops.
“Yeah, I didn’t think of that either,” he said.  “I figured we would be too busy fishing.”

I glanced around the cabin and the surrounding woods. I had an idea.  I had brought my hatchet and a small folding saw.  Now I just need the perfect specimen to work a little magic.  After a few seconds of searching, I spied it.  It was tucked under the cabin, hiding under a sheet of plywood.  Just the end of it was poking out.

“I’m going to make us some dice,” I told Pops. 

His eyebrows scrunch up, “You’re what?”

“I’m going to make some dice,” I re-iterate.

He just shakes his head.  “Only you,” he says.  “Only you.”

It was a scrap piece of 2x6 pine board under the cabin that I had found.  I took my saw and began to make a long cut, with the grain, several inches long.  Then I made several cuts against the grain essentially cutting the lumber into cubes.  Once I had the rough shape we retreated back into the cabin where I searched through the cupboards and found a cheese grater.  I used the cheese grater to “sand and finish” the cubes.

Once I had the shape I wanted and the dice were fairly consistent with one another all I had to do was put the dots on them.  I had also brought my small plumbing torch to help light camp fires so I unpacked that and removed a nail that was stuck in the wall of the bathroom (to hang towels on) and by holding the nail in the flame of the torch I could get it cherry red.  I simply kept reheating the nail head until I had all the dice made.

Once the dice were made I found a scrap piece of paper and created a Yahtzee board.  I didn’t remember all of the scores and point amounts, but we came pretty close. 
That is how we spent our Sunday afternoon waiting for the weather to calm down.
Later on in the afternoon, the wind subsided enough that we piled back into the boat and fished until nightfall.  Again we put the smack down on the fish with an evening total of 25 fish.

Our total so far- 63 fish in a day and a half.

Of course, we ate fish again.  I mean who wouldn’t?

Journal entry for Sunday, August 16th.
Hot and windy today.  Hammered the walleye.  Around 50 fish total.  Quite a few were in the 17”-18” range.  Sat out on the dock & drank beer in the afternoon watching the whitecaps on the water.  It was the only cool spot.  Fishing was excellent.  Hot and partly sunny – 87 degrees winds south at 15-25 mph.

Stay tuned for more…

Fish On!