Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gone fishing

It was nice to get unplugged and join some friends in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin. A short 2 hour drive can get you from Milwaukee into a land where cell signals are either weak or non-existent. A place where you don’t watch TV or log into your email but talk around the campfire, throw washes or play ladder golf. You don’t mind waking up at 6:30 to go fishing remembering how many years ago your father would wake you up to go fishing at your grandparents cottage.

The drive out doesn’t seem that long. Once you get past Madison and head south you are in farmland. There are crops- mainly corn- all around. The roads themselves are built around the cornfields. My guess is the county didn’t want to piss of Old Man Johnson by building County F right through his corn. Because of this, the roads curve, go up and down both small and big hills and have sharp 90 degree turns. It isn’t uncommon for signs to warn you of such sharp blind turns just over the ridge. It made for some fun driving. Each time I saw a Harley rumble by I was envious and wish I had my Mustang with me. I would have loved to zip around those roads, hugging each curve and accelerating down the hills.

The fishing itself did not play out as expected. Though a bartender at the Grumpy Troll in Mt. Horeb proclaimed the fish to be biting by the damn at Lake Yellowstone, they weren’t. We spent time casting out and catching nothing. Not even a bit. I spent more time catching the bottom of the lake than I did a fish. So we moved to the bottom of the damn where we could see dark shapes moving in the water. Sure enough we started hitting. On my second cast I got a bite and started reeling something big in. It didn’t fight much and soon we had the fish to the surface. We saw that is was a big, ugly carp. Our next problem was getting the thing off of the hook. There is a big overhang where we were fishing. We were at least 10 feet above water level casting over a 3-4 foot fence. Trying to haul the thing straight up would be a problem as we would later find out when my friend broke a pole hauling one out. In my case, the line snapped and the fish was away. Later Crazy Old Catman would show up and get the fish for us. That is another post altogether.

So we didn’t catch anything in the morning session but we weren’t defeated. We were determined to try a different part of the lake and fish from the shore. In the early afternoon we gathered some beer and went back out. We find a nice spot and started tossing some wax worms out. It took a bit of time to find the right depth but we started getting some bites again. True to form I pulled in another crap fish, a shiner. It fell off the hook and into some deep grass. Not sure if it made it back into the water but that didn’t matter. After some more time my friend started pulling in some small bluegills. I kept catching logs and grass. I must have gone through a half dozen of the worms losing them each time I pulled my line in after it drifted and getting it snagged on the grass below.

But soon enough I would finally get a good bite and pull one in. This fish alone made getting a license worthwhile.

Sure it ain't the biggest fish in the world but it was the biggest we caught all weekend. Beside the carp that is. We got the walleye off the hook and tossed it back into the water. We watched it shake a bit, sink, and then come back to the surface belly up. By this time the other members of our camping group had shown up to witness my Babe Winkelman type performance and they gasped when the fish looked dead. But it turned once more and swam off. That was the last I saw of Wally. Yeah, I named the fish. Get over it!

I did enjoy my time out there even though we didn't catch many fish. There was something about the serenity. The quietness of the lake as the morning sun crept over the trees and began to burn the fog off. The fish jumping in the water. The reflection of the trees. It was peaceful. It was nature doing what it does. I was able to relax and soak it in, shedding any stress I might have had. Best of all, it was pretty simple and felt good.

I am glad I made the effort to get a license and go out to the lake. I am grateful for my friend taking the time to answer my questions and the advice he gave. He was the real fisherman out there, snagging many more fish than I. A real pro who knew what to do. I look forward to getting out there once again.

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