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It’s kind of funny how a routine day of fishing can turn into an adventure that a person couldn’t make up. I have had a few of these experiences in my years as a fisherman and lover of the outdoors. I can’t really single out one event that stands out above the others so this must tell you something: there have been many oops events in my many years.

There was one fishing vacation years ago my wife Jean and I had gone on along with our friends Russ and Sue Laite. We were fishing Big Sand Lake, which lies a little bit north and west of Deer River. Things were going fairly well until the weather turned stormy and the wind picked up. The owner of the resort we were staying at asked all the guests who brought boats to take them out so his docks didn’t get torn up. I had fished the lake for many years and I can attest to the fact that this lake can really get rough. The storm not only came with wind, but also with a real downpour of rain. It rained so hard that the resort owner came knocking on the door to tell us we needed to use the outhouse instead of the bathroom because the septic tank had been flooded.

After absorbing all of that good news, Russ and I hooked the trailer up and went to extract the boat from the lake. As I was trying to pull the boat out of the water, my pickup didn’t seem to have any power. I tried and tried but it wouldn’t budge; I had a four-speed pickup with a floor shifter and I finally realized that in my haste I had the truck in fourth gear instead of first. This is another one of my many oops that gets brought up from time to time. By the end of the week’s adventure we actually had some good luck fishing because we’d caught quite a few nice walleye and northern.

Another oops I have experienced more than once is when you get that helpless feeling as you are walking out on the trailer tongue to connect the winch rope and you slip, knowing full well you are about to end up at best knee deep in ice-cold water. Another neat trick is to leave the minnow bucket in the water while zooming down the lake in search of a different place to fish; done that a few times too.

It only gets better: like the time I forgot to put the plug in when we launched the boat on a little lake near our cabin. My grandson Dylan and his grandma were with me when this happened. As the boat floated towards deeper water, I noticed there was water creeping up on the floor. This is the moment that panic sets in and you scramble to save the sinking ship. I tried to get the boat on plane so I could pull the plug and suck the water out; unfortunately, it had taken on too much water, so I was just plowing through the water like an old barge. I quickly turned on the bilge pump and waited until the water started to subside enough for me to get it on plane; luckily it worked and I was able to suck the water out and move on. This is the story that has no end because Dylan rekindles the event at least once each year. There are many funny things that can occur when a person goes fishing, but forgetting the plug is probably the worst thing you can do.

There was another plug incident that occurred when my brother-in-law Lynn and I were fishing in the Battle Lake area. We had driven through a torrential downpour on the way there, so we removed the plug from the boat so it didn’t fill up with water. We had gone together and purchased an old fiberglass Pipestone runabout with a 35-hp Evinrude motor that took you, a small horse and a boy to pull-start. Once we arrived at our fishing destination we immediately launched the boat. I was in the boat while Lynn backed it into the water. It was windy, so the boat started drifting quickly toward the other end of the lake. As I was trying to start the motor I noticed the water rushing in and then I had this vision of the plug laying quietly on the dashboard of the truck. I got Lynn’s attention (screaming something about the plug) and put my thumb in the hole to stop the water. Lynn waded out chest deep and hurled the plug towards the boat. I could only envision him missing the boat and me and the boat ending up at the other end of the lake with my thumb still in the hole. At that moment I knew what that little Dutch boy with his thumb in the dike felt like.

Luckily, the plug made it into the boat, I put it in and commenced to start the old Evinrude, which was never an easy task. This story did have a happy ending however because we caught more walleyes than I ever caught in my life. We got our limit, pulled in for shore lunch and ate walleye until we were totally stuffed, then we hit the lake again, filled out our limit and decided that neither of us could eat another walleye fillet for a while, so we headed home. Another happy ending to what could have been a bad situation.

Putting the icing on the cake: my grandson Trevor and I had driven to another nearby lake with a steep access and were ready to launch the boat. As I backed it in Trevor asked if I had put the plug in. I answered him, “I think so,” but said, “Let’s check.” As I pulled the trailer back out of the water the boat slid off the trailer and onto the ground with a “thud”. As I looked in the mirror I could see Trevor with his eyes as big as saucers and his mouth frozen open. He asked me what we would do now, and I calmly said I’d just winch it back on, not having a clue if I really could. It worked! Luckily, there was minimal damage to the boat and another conversation piece was added to family get-togethers.

Take a little time to relax by getting out and enjoying the outdoors and taking in one of the many nice parks that we have available for our use. Taking a little time out to do some fishing can also be a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

Please take some time to honor those that have sacrificed so much for the freedoms that we enjoy today. Take a little time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who served and those troops that are serving today.

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