I love fall fall fishing.
I don’t know why I hold it with such regard to be honest. I’ve been telling people for years that it’s one of the best times of the year to be out there, the fish are biting, the weather is nice, the shorelines spectacular in fall colors.
I must have read that somewhere, the part about the fishing being great that is. I’ve really never had a great deal of success in the fall. A few really good days interspersed among a month and a half of crummy ones. But the experience of being out there in the fall, the chill in the air and the majesty of the colors, I really love that.
i suppose the colors, and the perspective of viewing the colors from the water that makes the fall days so fantastic. Assuming of course that you can catch a break in the weather.
There’s also a sense of urgency in the fall, a feeling that builds as the season goes on, that I’m down to the last few trips “soft water” fishing trips. It’s like going to the State Fair at the end of August when you’re a kid, the last big blow out party of the year before school starts and, basically you’re done. So it went this weekend on Blake Lake. I had to go up to the lake for a couple of reasons, most importantly to take possession of the new/old pontoon boat I bought a month or so ago, and second, to mow and get the leaves up. And of course, to get in a little fishing.
I convinced a friend of mine to come along from the ride. Pat is a friend who I’ve not spent a great deal of time with, at least one on one and I was looking forward to the opportunity. He’s one of funniest people I know, always in a good mood, at least around me, and a guy whose passion for fishing my be equal to only two other people I know, myself and the brother from another mother Don.
We headed up to Wisconsin on Saturday morning, I had a had a pretty short night thanks to Apple Valley’s homecoming. Before you think I’ve suddenly become filled with the spirit of civic of scholastic pride I assure you that my time at the game was limited to the first half and then 20 seconds after the last of the dance team had left the field. We were there with one of our Dinner Club friends whose daughter was dancing. The other family in the family in the Dinner Club, their daughter is a cheerleader for the other team, but because of the crowd control riot prevention measure we didn’t get to actually see them, they were on the other side of the field.
We all hooked up after the game at our friends place for several hours of conversation and noshing which put me to bed at about 1:00, and since I was meeting Pat at 8:00… short night. But like a trooper, I was there on time. College and three different infants has prepared me well to be on my best after only a few hours sleep.
After a stop at Fleet Farm in Hudson Wisconsin for oil and supplies to winterize motors with we arrived the cabin with a half hour or so to spare before we were to meet the pontoon, with my rented pontoon trailer, at the access in Balsam Lake. Pat of course, took the opportunity to head out on the dock and drop a line in the water. I don’t what comes over me when I’m up here in the off-season, and why bad ideas seem to just flow into my head…
Pat was fishing with a bobber, and actually catching a few fish, although they were rather small. Seeing his bobber floating out on the lake, and at the same time noticing out of the corner of my eye the rather high-powered pellet gun that I have up here for targets and muskrats it occurred to me that a small red and orange plastic thing floating in the middle of a lake certainly looked like a good target, hitting it from the bank would be a pretty decent display of marksmanship and would probably piss off Pat. Given that motivation how could I not.
Nice to say, I still got it. One shot, one exploding bobber, one fisherman loudly exclaiming “What the FUCK was that” and one old fat guy with a firearm, rolling on the ground in laughing so hard that there was concern for a hernia or wet underwear. I think Pat was so surprised he got me confused with a friend of his named Richard for a while. To lazy to string on another bobber, which he and I were pretty sure would meet the same fate as the one that had just been shot down, we headed to the rental place to get the boat.
The way a pontoon trailer works, you slide the narrow trailer between the two pontoon, crank on the winch and raise the middle of the trailer until the boat is lifted well out of the water. It’s a pretty slick system. Easy to understand, except that I’ve never done it. As we were picking up the thing the fellow at the shop showed us how the lift came up and how you locked it in. I got it. One question-”Don’t you need straps or something the secure the boat onto the trailer?” The shocking answer was “no”. Matter of fact, Mr Mullet told us, “I don’t even lower the lift. I just back’r into the water deep enough that you can drive the boat right on and then.. pull out. Ya don’t need no straps and ya don’t need ta mess wit’ the winch.”
I was skeptical.
Arriving at the boat ramp, the boat was there, waiting on the dock. And, a message from the Lord himself that confirmed that my skepticism about straps and winches was in fact, well founded. There, 30 yards up from the access was a brand new pontoon, just pulled out of the water by its owners, sitting on its side, it had fallen off the trailer. Pat and I looked at each other. “You know Sank.. I’m thinking straps would be good, ya got any?” “Uh, doubt it, but I agree with you that we should probably get some.” “You don’t have any? What kind of man are you driving a sissy truck with no straps?”
I might have something. I opened the back hatch, opened the spot where the rear tire goes and holy cow, the Lord doth provide. There were actually 3 sets of straps, one for every time I needed one and assumed that I didn’t have any and went and bought more, only to find that I had some at home. I’d tell my wife I could use a set in the car, and would throw the new ones in there. Apparently this had happened three times.
We loaded up the boat, after my annoyance BTW that guy I purchased it from had subsided a bit, they guy had stripped it of some of the things I wanted, which was nice of him, and sort of dishonest at the same time.
We pulled the boat over to my place, dropped it on the driveway for the winter, returned the trailer and headed home.
Of course we had to stop at the Eagle Lounge for a celebratory “bump” it being Saturday and me being in possession of a new pontoon and all. The bad thing about heading into a bar on a Saturday afternoon in the fall, there’s the very real concern that we won’t make it out of the bar, motivation being put a risk and all. We were able to reach deep and summon our strength and find our way off the bar stools in time to launch the fishing boat get fishing.
Fishing conditions were typical for late fall; cold, windy and not a lot of action, actually there was no action what so ever. I attribute the poor fishing to the change of weather on Friday. All week it stunningly beautiful around here. Warm afternoons in the upper 70′s, then boom, Saturday, we barely crack 50. That sort of abrupt change really screws with the fish. After beating the water for a couple of hours we headed up to the lake to see if Sherrards Resort was still open. Sherrards is rustic little bar that sits up on the north end of the lake. Nice thing about it, the sell cheap drinks and are accessible by boat.
It being one of those days where things were just sort of working out, we were delighted to find that the place was open. Not only was it open, they had the wood stove going full blast so it was quite toasty in there. Exactly what we needed after fighting wind and waves for two hours. Fighting them, BTW with nothing to show for it.
I still had the specter of a half-acre of un-mowed lawn and downed leaves on my mind and as such I was ready to go after one drink. Pat however, in guest mode and not all that interested in what was likely going to be a very cold ride down the lake to the access was more inclined to stay put and enjoy the fire and $2.00 mixed drinks and $1.00 beers.
Every party needs a pooper and that’s why they typically invite me. This was no exception.
By the time we’d loaded the boat and put it back in the garage, the wind had laid down significantly and I couldn’t help but think the fish are probably biting again. False hope I’m sure, but you know, when the conditions look good you sort of expect the fishing to follow, never mind the cold water.
This is the time of year where I do start to consider, is there one more trip left, is there one more nice weekend. I’m always a sucker that there’s one more day to get out, one more good trip to make. Do I winterize this weekend or wait. In the end, I decided to wait. I have one more weekend of leaves to harvest at a minimum. If the weather is nice that weekend I’m going to take boat out one more time, if not I’ll do the motor then and move the ice fishing stuff to the front of the garage, soft water fishing stuff, to the back.