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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day Three –Part 2, Looking for the BIG one

After I lost that monster smally I was disappointed.  He was so close and he got away, but when you are fishing as in life there is only one thing to do.  Keep casting.  You can’t catch a fish staring at the water with your pole across your lap.  

Courts and Grant paddling in the rain
We kept hugging the shoreline and throwing our lure into every crag and good-looking fish hideout we could see.  Dad and I led and Courts and Grant followed.  We did catch server nice Pike that we knew would make for a tasty fish fry that night but no big small mouths.  

Our goal was Bald Eagle creek and we were getting closer.  It was still a cloudy and overcast day and we had been catching fish so I was excited about getting to Dad’s secret spot where even Mom had caught big fish.  When we finally saw the creek I changed lures to a giant yellow rooster tail, as Dad gave me the final instructions on being ready to catch a fish.  He said Mom almost caught a fish on every cast 20 years ago, which added to my pressure.  

As we started up the mouth of the creek there was a huge rock on our right side and Dad said, “We always catch one here.”  Right after he said that I made a perfect cast to the edge of that rock and sure enough hung a nice Pike.  That made me a believer on how much of a honey hole Bald Eagle Creek was.  

Dad kept paddling and advising me on where to cast and I kept catching fish.  The water was really shallow and we could easily see the bottom as we headed upstream.  The grass and lily pads were thick against the edges and the Pike were sitting underneath them and attacking my lure with each cast.  The trick was to cast as close to the grass as possible without getting hung.  

We tried to stay quiet and cast without snagging but there were several casts where I threw to hard and caught the brush.  Each time Dad would have to paddle over to my snag and he would say, “You can’t catch fish getting hung up,” or he would ad, “Your as bad as your Mom at casting, can’t you cast any better than that?” 

Courts and Grant followed us up the creek and Grant was having a ball while pulling them in.  I don’t know how many we caught but we started throwing the “small” ones back.  We finally reached a point where the water was so shallow we had to stop and Dad parked our canoe so we could hike up to Beaver Creek and check out the Beaver Dam.  

It was only a few hundred yards to the Beaver Dam but there was no trail and it was an adventurous hike through rocks, brush and millions of mosquitoes.  I took my pole hoping to catch a monster fish in the Beaver Pond and when we reached the Dam it was a beautiful pond that looked like it should be full of very large fish just waiting to be caught by an adventurer brave enough to blaze and trail through the brush and mosquitoes.  Unfortunately, I didn’t even get a bite.

We headed back to our canoes, stretched our backs and headed back down Bald Eagle Creek.  After a very long day sitting in the canoe it felt good to get up and walk around, but the mosquitoes were so bad I wanted to get out in the breeze over the water where they didn’t bother us as much.  

Grant with his Big One
We had another fun time catching fish all the way down the creek and we were almost back to the big rock with Courts and Grant in front of us when Grant hooked his biggest fish of the trip.  He was trying to pull it in and his drag was screaming while Courts and Dad were coaching him on the finer points of fish catching.  I took the camera out and got the whole thing on film.  Grant pulled him into the boat and help up a very nice Pike for the photo op. 

It was getting late in the day so we headed back along the same shoreline for our campsite.  Dad kept paddling and I kept fishing but I was anxious to get back to the spot where I had hung my monster small mouth.  I wanted another chance at him and thought maybe he would bite again or his wife or Dad would be there to jump on my line.  Dad caught a few Walleye and I hooked a Pike or two as we got closer to the “spot.”

A couple of coves up when we were really close to shore I made a short cast off the point of a cliff that didn’t look very special and hooked a fish.  I was trying to real him in but my drag kept slipping and Dad looked at me and said, “Son you have to tighten that drag some or you will never get these fish in.”

I was thinking he was right and about that time he broke the water and I understood the reason the drag was slipping, I had another big smallmouth on the line.  As soon as Dad saw him he told me to get the net.  This time the handle was out and ready and I wasted no time in getting the net and scooping up my trophy small mouth!

He was BIG and I was happy!!  All the disappointment from losing that other smally was washed away.  I very carefully put him on the stringer and after that all I wanted to do was get back to camp and show Courts and Grant.  Of course after I calmed down and thought about it I made the point that as big as he was I knew the one that got away was even bigger.  
Me with my Monster

It was a somewhat uneventful trip back.  Dad caught another small walleye and we had to paddle against the wind across the last part of the lake to get to our campsite but I wanted to weigh and measure my fish. 
Dad left his fish scale at home because he thought it would be too heavy to trek in.  At his age every ounce was a burden so we didn’t have an accurate way to weigh my monster.  I got a 5 Pound bag of potatoes that Mom had sent and held them in one hand and my fish in the other.  They seemed about even to me and Courts double checked my accuracy and confirmed the weight.  It measured almost 19 inches and we estimated it was 5 pounds.  

I can tell you it made for a giant fish fry.  I love fish and I have eaten a lot of good fish in my life, but I don’t think fish can ever be as good as they are after a long day on the Boundary Waters.  There is something about frying some fresh fish that were just caught out of a lake that is so clean you can drink the water straight out of it,  in pure coconut oil that have been dipped in Mom’s secret cornmeal mix.

We had a wonderful evening sitting around our campfire and ate fish till we couldn’t eat any more as we watched the sun set in one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on earth.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.  I learned that when the wind blows out of the West and it’s a cloudy overcast day, GO FISHING because fish do bite best when the wind blows from the West!  Next year I will volunteer to carry the 2oz fish scale into camp. 

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