THE EARLY RISER
I'm all alone out on the lake at 5am in the morning. There's barely enough light for me to see the ends of my oars. I have forgotten to lubricate the oar locks again so there is a barely audible squeak from the left oar as I slowly head out for the south shore. I stop to fish around in the bottom of the tackle box for the sewing machine oil. I know that if I ignore that oar it's going to bug the hell out of me till I fix it. The pause gives me time to listen to the wakening world of the lake. The cacophony of frog songs is tapering off to a murmur, leaving only the faint sound of the wind in the trees. Way off in the distance a loon breaks the silence with its lonely cry as it begins its day of fishing for its breakfast. Once in a while the splash of a fish breaks the stillness. It is at times like this I feel the nearest to God.
It always seems odd to me that aside from the loon, I am the only one taking advantage of this solitude, this perfect time to fish. It is the time of no wind to hinder your passage, no boats constantly bearing down on you, no motors cranking up breaking the silent beauty of the misty morning. No barking dogs, no loud abrasive motorcycles racing up and down the road. Just peace and quiet and fish.
I fish up and down the lake stopping here and there in likely spots picking up lots of smaller fish In the course of 3 or 4 hours I catch 5 or 6 in the 14 inch range and a couple of really nice 18 inch rainbows. I keep one for my breakfast plus a 10 inch fish that was gill hooked and bled out.
8:00am brings the second boat out on the lake and I wave to its lone occupant as I pass his position. He calls over to me asking how the fishing is. I of course lie and say I think the bite is off. It's an inside joke from one incredible day when he and I stood on a sandbar catching fish after fish in amazing numbers. He laughs at the memory and asks again. I tell him an ice cream cone Chironomid is working well. He nods and ties on a fly.
Around 8am I work my way back to camp and land the boat on shore. Two little kids run down to greet me as I step ashore. "Did Ya catch any," they chime in.
"Yep I got these two," I say, as I hold up the two rainbows.
"Wow that's a big one huh?" one says.
"Yep pretty big," I say.
"What ya gonna do with them," says one lad.
"Well I'm going to cook the big one but you can have the small one," I say.
"Thanks," he says, as he grabs the fish and disappears down the trail chattering away happily with his pal.
I head up the hill to start the campfire. By now it's now about 8:30 and the campers are just now slowly beginning to arouse themselves. By 9:00 I have the coals just right. The coffee is perking merrily away and I begin to cook my Breakfast. Two slices of whole grain toast with fresh rainbow trout cooked over a campfire and I am in heaven.
As I sit there at the picnic table overlooking the lake I scan the 6 or 7 small fishing boats belonging to our group. I shake my head.
My pal arrives back in camp about then with a 22 inch beauty and a grin a mile wide.
"Thanks for the tip about the chronie" he says.
"No problems," I reply, trying not to look jealous. "It doesn't really work," and we both laugh.
"Looks good," he says pointing to the sizzling trout on the grill. I offer him a slab which he readily accepts. He points to the empty boats, "Amateurs!" He snorts,and I agree heartily. We both laugh.
It's now about 11:00 several of the guys, the ones with the least hangovers, head out on the lake to try to equal my buddy's 22 inch monster trout. They are full of how they are going to equal or better his prize. They thrash the lake to a froth for about 3 or 4 hours with the overhead sun beating down upon them during the worse time of day for fishing all to no avail. At the height of the mayhem I count 23 boats competing for space on the small 50 acre lake. Each one zigzagging around willy nilly without any thought or idea of a pattern at all. It never seems to occur to them to all troll around the same way which would solve everything. Finally all our guys come in one by one. Not a one of them can even report a bite.
Later around the campfire I comment, "You guys should have gotten out there earlier while the fish are feeding before the sun is overhead."
"Naw," is the reply. "The real problem is that the damn lake is all but fished out you guys were just bloody lucky."
"Yeah," says another. "We never catch anything here I don't know why you like this good for nothing godforsaken fishless lake anyway."
I just look knowingly over at my pal and grin.
By Gnu Bee Flyer