I live in Northern Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes and 43 Trillion fish. Here, people fish for Muskies and Northerns, Largemouth Bass, Walleyes and Crappies. A lot of families own a lake place, in addition to their main houses--they call the lake places "cabins". In Duluth, where I actually live, people fish off the ship canal for "Lakers" in the Summer and drag their ice houses out onto the ice in the Bay--right on Lake Superior. They drill holes in the ice and settle down to stay warm and maybe catch a fish dinner. Not this cookie!!
Don't misunderstand me--I LOVE to fish--or, rather I did love to fish when I was younger--but, when you are shaking so hard from the cold that your jig never stays still enough for the fish to grab at it--that's a lost cause, to me. I can sit on an overturned bucket and drink beer in my garage. And, there's a bathroom much closer by.
I was born and raised in "Upstate New York", Land of the Finger Lakes, where people fish for Pickerel, Perch and Pumpkinseeds. They have lake places that they call "cottages" or "camps" on lakes with names like Keuka, Canandaigua, Skaneateles and Taugannock Falls on Cayuga Lake. I started fishing with my mom and dad when I was very little. Actually, my dad would row the three of us out to the middle of the Lake, where he and my mom would sit all day with their lines in the water and I would play with my paper dolls. But, we were on our week's vacation, we had rented a "cottage" and we called it ":fishing". Our favorite place to go was Cazenovia, which my mother always called "Cozenavia". Don't ask me why...........but she laughed, every time.
I have pictures of five generations showing off their big catches,
Here are my Grampa Clark, my dad, Ray Clark, me and our oldest, Tad, with, I'm pretty sure, his first fish. Poor fish looks like he's seen better days.
Notice I am showing off the very latest in stylish fishing gear, I take after my dad, in the hat department.
And the last is, Sam--youngest grandson, who at the age of 19, had worked and saved up to buy his own boat, motor, tackle and ice fishing house. Can't say he doesn't have his priorities straight!
Opening Fishing weekend has always been a celebrate-able event with us, from early,early days. Starting when I was about four, we would head on over to the Catskill Mountains (in New York) to fish the small river that ran through the Dairy Farm of some family friends--In West Bovina, NY. No, I didn't just make that up--Bovina/dairy farm. My mom would get everything packed into our 1936 Ford and we would pick my dad up from work at exactly 5:00 and drive into the night, about 5 hours to the east. The memory of those trips is still with me.
You see, on the Boggs Family farm, just before "Opening Fishing" , came "Sugaring Off" when they would tap the trees. We would stumble into that sleepy old farmhouse after the long drive, and the first thing that washed over you was the warm, over-whelming smell of maple sugar cakes, drying in the oven. Unforgettable.
Below is a picture of my mother, Christine, in her oh-so-fashionable jodphers, holding (at arm"s length you will notice) the eel that she caught in the river that runs through the dairy Farm in West Bovina, New York.
Besides the fishing and bottling up the maple syrup, there were other things to do on the farm--exploring in root cellars, feeding the baby calves, falling through the trap in the hayloft, riding on the huge draft horses. I was so little, and they were so big and broad that my legs stuck straight out to the sides. It was like riding a four poster bed.
Fondly remembering the many fishing vacations we both took as children, Tom and I planned a few family adventures of our own---The houseboat trip into the Boundary Waters, where the wildest animals we saw all week were chipmunks. I spent a lot of time up on top of the houseboat, painting on a quilt. We played a lot of cribbage that trip--and probably consumed more peanut M & Ms than at any other week-long period in our lives.
There was a six-day canoe trip that turned into a seven-day never-again disaster, when we were coming down the Kawishawi River and the 50 mile per hour winds were going up. That was also the trip that I burned up one of Tom's boots when I was trying to dry them out, by the campfire.
One time, when our kids were still little, we took all three and flew in on a big old
rumble-y Beaver prop pontoon plane, into a Canadian fishing camp,-- a place 25 miles and 7 portages away from the nearest scrap of humanity. "oh please don't let anyone have an appendicitis attack" I mumbled, as the plane got smaller and smaller in the sky. We really had a wonderful time fishing, swimming, all that stuff, (in spite of the distance to the outhouse), all by ourselves in the pristine wilderness, BUT the thing the kids remember, to this day, is that by the last morning we had run out of milk and I made them put root beer on their Cheerios.
For years, Opening Fishing always found Tom and I in a boat, with some friends, up on the Sawbill Trail or Lake Kabetogama, around there, someplace. One year, the trip just started out like a runaway train heading into a wreck. First thing that happened was our friend hadn't fastened the latch on the boat hitch and when he stopped at the red light in the first little town up the Northshore, the boat--a large boat--slammed into the back of his shiny, new Travel-All, putting a lovely, big puncture wound through the trunk. Oooops!
After a long, silent drive, we got to the end of the Sawbill Trail to find that our cabin had been rented to someone else. We had to backtrack to find another place--not easy in Minnesota, opening Fishing weekend. Then, our friend with the hole in the back of his new truck, discovered that when he'd re-arranged the fishing gear and other supplies in the boat, in order to fit in just one more tackle box, he forgot to put some things back into the boat--like all of the food. Oh, except for the bag with the mustard, ketchup, pancake syrup and A-1 sauce. No steak, just A-1 sauce. Huh! So, we'd better get out there and catch dinner, right??
First trip out, I kept getting hung up on weeds and lily pads, where we were fishing, and everybody would have to reel in and we'd pole over to untangle my lure. Then, we'd go back to where we were and we'd all toss our lines back in, and it would happen again. After about five times, Tom noticed I was just sitting there, being quiet. I was stuck again, but didn't want to tell anyone. He quietly reached over and cut the lure off my line. Took care of that.
So then, because I wasn't fishing, I was in charge of driving the boat. The fisher-people would tell me where they wanted to go and I'd do my best to get us there. One of the directions had to do with cutting a sharp angle--and the motor lever got stuck and wouldn't turn back. So we started spinning around in circles, with everybody's lines still out. First, I couldn't stop it because it was stuck, then I couldn't stop it because we were all laughing hysterically. Except Tom. To make matters even worse, Tom had climbed out on the covered bow and was fishing from there, so when we began going around and round, he could only hold his rod straight up to keep from tangling up with the others--and yell. No laughing from HIM, just spinning around, yelling!
Y-ooow! Y-ooow! Y-ooow! Y-ooow! I believe we went back into town for dinner that night.
My favorite fish to catch was Northern Pike--they are good fighters and I think they are good eating, too. But, you have to know where to find them. My husband is a very scientific fisherman. He reads everything he can about anything that might affect his catching of fish. He studies charts, looks at maps, watches all the shows, has the depth finder, you name it, he knows about it.
So, when he and I go out fishing together, he's in charge of the location, the type of lure, if we're trolling or casting or jigging on the bottom and he always thinks if he hasn't gotten a hit in the first 15 minutes, the fish aren't there and we need to move on. I am in the other end of the boat. I am in charge of the anchor. I just get my line in, or throw maybe two casts and I hear--"Well, there's nothing here, let's move on". And I have to pull up the anchor. Get to the next place, put the anchor down-- get the line in the water--"Well, there's nothing here....". pull up the anchor, on and on and on. I am here to tell you, the man leads a charmed life. It's amazing he hasn't ever fallen out of the boat--accidentally, of course!!
Well, our fishing past-time came to an abrupt end when the front porch of the old Victorian house started listing to one side. Tom is positive that it was the 50 plus people lined up to get into the bi-annual "River's Bend Sale" (another story, another time). The fellow who came to take it down to a skeleton and rebuild it, allowed as how he'd just as soon take that fishing boat over there for his services, rather than cash. Seemed like a good idea at the time.