We have, to say the least, been experiencing some unseasonably warm weather for December. There have been a few times in past years when we have had similar weather and I can recall one time not too long ago when someone was waterskiing on Fountain Lake in a Santa Claus suit in December. Now, if you are an avid ice fisherman, I am sure you probably do not see the humor in this, but after all it is Minnesota where you can always expect the unexpected when it comes to weather.
I, for one, am not a die-hard ice fisherman, but I’d guess you could say I dabble in it from time to time. For the more enthusiastic hard water fishermen this might be compared to me waiting anxiously for the ice to be off of the lakes and the open water season to be under way. I have witnessed a few die-hard fishermen taking advantage of the open water, but I have not heard how they fared.
There was a time when I was “that guy” taking advantage of open water up until the lakes iced over. There particular time I bought a brand new bait casting reel and (for that time) a state-of-the-art Browning graphite rod at a closeout sale at Bergland’s Sporting Goods and was anxious to try it out. It was mid-November and I was in the process of shingling my garage, but I had to stop and go to my niece’s birthday party. That was when I got this brilliant idea to go to the lake and make a few casts before I left for the party. It was cold and windy so I only fished for a short while, but still managed to catch a small northern. After that I was satisfied I had made a good buy and headed back home to drop off my fishing pole and pick up the family. After getting my tackle box and fishing pole out of the backseat I leaned my pole against the car and while I started to take the box into the house the wind suddenly gusted and my rod started sliding forward while the door on the car blew shut almost all in one motion. The rod broke off just inches above the handle. Needless to say I was pretty devastated by the sad state of affairs I had created for myself. After moping around for a few days I decided that there was no fix to the rod and decided to mail it in to the manufacturer explaining what had happened and asking them if they could possibly fix it, offering to pay for any repairs.
A couple weeks went by before this long tube arrived in the mail; I opened it to see if they had indeed fixed it but they actually did one better. They replaced it with a new one and on the invoice it said: “replacement for factory defect.” I couldn’t have been happier that a company like Browning would do that for a customer. I used that rod for many years before it finally met its demise by being stepped on in the boat by one of the grandsons. I could never get mad about it so I just looked at it as retiring one of my favorite fishing rods and moved on. My grandson (Dylan) being the nice kid that he is insisted on replacing it, although you could say it was payback for me breaking one of his rods. Here is a little tip for the other grandkids: never let Grandpa get a snag out for you; he might end up breaking your fishing pole.
I have always loved fishing our lake and other small lakes in the area around our cabin because it involves a small boat. This is how I grew up fishing and “old time” fishing has always been my favorite way to go. Unfortunately time has taken its toll on my body and arthritis in the joints makes me much less nimble than I once was. Getting in and out of a boat takes some doing these days and whenever I am getting ready to make my exit it takes some serious planning on my part.
The old saying, “the best laid plans” can surely apply to a couple of my no-so-smooth exits from my small fishing boat. The first was a few years ago while fishing with my oldest son Brian on one of our favorite lakes in the fall. It is strictly a northern pike lake where we have always had good luck. After a couple hours we decided to take a little break so we pulled up to shore and began to exit the little craft. Brian was in the front so he got out and held the boat while the “Skipper” attempted to exit. Unfortunately, as I rose from my seat, my knee buckled and I lunged forward, falling out of the boat and landing in the “cold” water. Luckily the only thing that happened was that I got soaked and nothing was hurt but my pride.
The next incident was a year ago with my grandson Dylan. He was rowing the boat and when we decided to call it a day he turned the boat and backed it up to shore so that the transom, or wide end, was on shore. Dylan said this would probably make it easier for me to exit said boat. Unfortunately my body had other plans; as I stood up my heel caught under the seat, I lost my balance and my other leg buckled as I twisted in mid-air and landed on my back, in the water, with my feet still in the boat. I just lay there for a few seconds trying to plan my next move to get up without tipping the boat over. Finally with Dylan’s help I was able to get ashore.
Now I have to feel that in both instances Brian and Dylan did an admiral job of trying to hold in the laughter that was surely much deserved. Yes, this was not an example of boat safety at its best.
Until next time, take advantage of the mild weather we have been experiencing and maybe even grab the fishing pole and make that one last cast to open water.
Remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers, especially during the upcoming holiday season. They are the reason that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.