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With the weather being as it is I have not had much incentive to wet a line on area lakes. It seems as if when the days are sunny and warm the wind is blowing at a brutal pace and when the wind dies down it is cold and rainy. I guess that this is just the price we pay for living in our beloved state. On the other hand; we could live in "tornado alley" or in a place where hurricanes are always a threat.

Late last summer while I was at the cabin I mowed and used the weed eater to widen the path going down the hill to the lake. After I had finished I was taking a little break sitting on this love seat that we have facing the lake at the crest of the hill. As I stared down the path I thought of all the fun that the grandkids had over the years during the summer months. My wife Jean had bought an inflatable Kayak and later a paddle boat; both of which the kids, especially Trevor the oldest, enjoyed for many years. The boys would take turns with the kayak but Trevor, being the oldest and the most dedicated fisherman got the most use out of it. I believe that the last time that he used it was when he went to fetch it out from under the cabin and disturbed a hornet’s nest. He got numerous bites and after that he was never too anxious to retrieve the kayak from under the cabin again. I can see how that would make a kid just a little skittish. The paddle boat also got its share of use over the years but that eventually gave way to the 12 foot Lund that I had bought just to use on our lake. I eventually purchased a 14-ft boat that we leave on shore by the lake. The boys not only used the boat for fishing but also for exploring the lake and swimming out of on hot summer days.

I now use that 12 foot Lund for lake hopping and that is the boat that I like to fish out of when I am alone or with one of my sons or grandsons. We have a 1959 5.5 hp Evinrude that works good for fishing many of the small lakes that I like to fish. Most of the lakes that we fish have little or no boat traffic for the majority of the time so you usually aren’t competing for your favorite “hot spot”. This type of fishing is “right down my alley”, as my dad used to say. I like the solitude and have never been one to stand elbow to elbow on the bank of a stream or lake fighting for a spot to plop my lure in.

The lakes that I usually fish aren’t known to hold many walleye; bass, northern and panfish fill that void very nicely. I live spending time on a small lake enjoying the scenery and doing my best to find a lure or bait that will entice a fish to bite is what it is all about to me. Watching the sun rise while listening to the loons, watching a beaver busily swimming across the lake with a tree branch or spotting an eagle soar overhead is what it is really all about; catching fish is just a bonus.

Saying that it’s all about the experience may seem like a cop out but that is not really the case. I know others will disagree but the coach that says winning or losing doesn’t matter and that it’s just about playing the game is sending the wrong message. When it comes to sports like football, baseball, basketball or hockey and others you play for a reason; to win and if you act like that doesn’t matter then where is the competitive spirit that you need not only in sports but to carry you through life. Granted, winning is the goal but it’s more about being competitive and the winning is what keeps you coming back.

Fishing to some is all about how many pounds of fish you can put on the table and granted I like to eat fish but I don’t judge a successful fishing outing by how many fish I can put on the stringer, yes I still use one. The fishing experience alone is great but subconsciously, that one chance that I may catch the fish of my lifetime is what keeps me coming back for more.

As I sat on that bench staring down that path at the lake I would swear that I still could hear those kids laughing and yelling as they scurried up the hill to tell me about a fish that they had caught or of an animal that they had seen. I long for those days even though I know that they are gone. I still have hope that my two little granddaughters will be spending a lot of time at the cabin with us in the coming years.

Until next time, it's time to get outdoors when the weather permits. Wet a line whenever the opportunity arises and if you don't want to fish, it's still a great time to take a walk or ride your bike around the lake.

Remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers, not only during the holiday season but for the rest of the year. They are the reason that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms we have today.

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