Tis the season, as they say, to start lookin' ahead. Get all those new years’ resolutions written up, start the diet and since I don’t do any of that stuff, I’ll knock that off right there. But what I do, do, is take a fond look back every year.
When I was five I caught my first brook trout. It was about five inches long and as close to a liquid rainbow of color in my hand as I could get. I never forget that first little brook trout, the spot I was standing, and my grampas face when I showed it to him. It’s my best trout, my favorite trout, ever.
When I was twenty six years old I grabbed a model ninety-four, my favorite wool coat and headed north on a piece of property today I may just get lost on, but back then, I had almost every tree branch memorized. Just after lunch I cut a deer track. He led me a merry chase, but in the end, became the trophy buck of my deer hunting life. I’ve shot bigger and had more surprising deer hunting trips since then, but back in “26” as I call it. That was my deer day, of days.
This fall I was mired in a mental morass until the sky filled with triple curled mallards so deep into the Superior National Forest they could have only been the most lost ducks on earth. I was trying to get away from it all and I dang near did. Then with age in not only me, but the sweetest over/under money could buy, melded with some experience and the gifts that only the outdoors can provide, I hit upon a day in the duck marsh that I will never see again. It was feathers and duck calls. Mallards quacking in a squall of weather nobody but a duck hunter would really appreciate. It was not a duck day, it was THE duck day. It was my duckiest day ever, on planet earth.
I had quite a year, and one fourteen pound, six ounce lake trout from one hundred and six feet deep in Lake Superior reminds me that no matter how hard I try, how expensive the lure, sometimes they just come up on the old fashioned hand lines.
We may get fancy, can electronically see into the depths, but the old-timers took fish and big fish. I’m not an old timer yet, I just hope to live long enough to become one, and one of my hopes for the coming years, is that you and yours do too.
The trout Whisperer
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You know those people that say the right things, because they think the right things, so they can’t help but do the right things? Well I know one of those guys. I’ve known him for a good many years.
He doesn’t talk a lot, but when he does speak, it’s to his point and right on target. When he talks, you’re allowed to listen, it’s not like you’re forced to hear. He’s not out to change my mind, but he often does. He’s not running his ideas down my throat but the thoughts he comes up with are pretty easy to digest mentally.
Not too much wasted motion from this fellow because he told me once that being truly lazy, meant you do the job completely right the first time, and then you don’t have to go back to it again.
Joe doesn’t watch the weather forecast. He says they usually don’t get yesterdays weather correct and what’s gonna happen, is gonna happen, so lets go make something happen. Before to long, we do. He turns work into fun. He makes fun, fun.
His real name is Joe. He’s alive and well and not kickin. He takes measured steps. If we are hanging a deer stand, splitting firewood or pouring coffee the guy just gets it right. He’s a great cribbage player and not because he wins most of the time but because he keeps track of not only his cards, but mine as well. Joe gives us all a square deal, whether we deserve it or not.
Joe sharpens everyone’s knives at deer camp the night before season. Joe always helps the rookie’s not just deer hunt, but bag a buck. Joe doesn’t cuss, he laughs harder than most folks I know. His wool coats fit. He shoots open sighted rifles when most of us much younger have to use a scope. His eyesight, not to mention vision, is just fine.
Joe wakes up happy, because he goes to bed happy. Joe does not have bad days. He say’s there not worth it. It’s just that simple according to Joe. Everything is just that simple to Joe.
Joe can’t cook. Joe isn’t a rich old bugger. Joe is human. One sock at a time kind a guy. Joe doesn’t like litter; But Joe doesn’t have any pet peeves. Joe just fixes stuff. Regular a guy as you’d ever meet, until you meet him, and then he turns out to be the one in a million. I figure Joe has at least one bad habit, me. Everybody should have one and I hope he don’t kick it too soon.
The trout Whisperer
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Nut Rice Crann-berry Bake Yer Brains Out Easy Sidedish
One box of stove top stuffing( save for the end..read all directions first)
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Eventually we have to go home. We don’t want to of course; it’s just the smartest thing to do at some point tonight. We have been at it all day. Tomorrow is another day. You can rationalize it all, but we still don’t want to go.
You had enough? No. Why, you had enough, no. Think maybe we better get going. Yeah, you pull your line and I’ll reel up and will get going. You pull the anchor then we can go, okay? I pull the anchor, and then we drift fish.
Fish bite, so we stay. Crisp bright stars pop out. Northern lights yawl over the tree tops so were not leaving no way no how now. Fish keep biting. We can’t even use the excuse were out of live bait, were not into the third minnow bucket yet.
He starts the motor just to charge the batteries. I reeled up because I thought he had finally quit. He reeled up because he thought I wanted to quit. With the motor running anyhow, we button up our coats and motor slowly for the launch.
We're driving home with a boat load of fish under a half moon the color of curdled milk, my back feels like curdled milk. Muscle chunks squished between what were strong healthy bones about five A.M. feel reel tender tonight. I’m not going to tell the guy driving the truck I ache at all because he isn’t whining about anything, at least not yet.
Tonight in the dark, driving for home, trying not to hunt deer with the v-8 we keep the high beams on and chat to keep ourselves out of the ditch. I was so wide awake on the way into the woods and water, now all this day has past. The fish, an entire lake, the roasted ham sandwich lunch, is somewhere in our darkened rear view mirror.
What’s so hard to figure out, is if I could, I’d turn around, just head the boat truck and trailer and go right back. I would. That’s my mind making a decision my body won’t agree to. My common sense has lost all sense of touch, especially in my wind burn face but I would go right back out on the lake, any lake. The guy with me would too. We didn’t quit because of fish or fishing, we quit because we plum wore ourselves out.
I might be, Maybe, over tired from all the freshest of fresh air. I know I’m not under fished, we had a lip hitting day. Perhaps Neurons are firing hitting spiritually refreshed fishing receptors. Could be the northern lights lit some internal flame that still has my fishing brain on fire, I really don’t know, but I’m so physically tired I have to take my body home whether my brain agrees or not.
The trout whisperer
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Hot Air: Think You Know Your Winds?
Barber - a strong wind carrying damp snow or sleet and spray that freezes upon contact with objects, especially the beard and hair.
Boreas - an ancient Greek name for north winds. (Also borras) The term may originally have meant "wind from the mountains" and thus the present term BORA. (Glossary of Meteorology)
Bull's Eye Squall - a squall forming in fair weather.
Chinook - a type of foehn wind. Refers to the warm down slope wind in the Rocky Mountains that may occur after an intense cold spell when the temperature could rise by 20 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes. Also known as the Snow Eater. (Weather Channel Glossary)
Contrastes - winds a short distance apart blowing from opposite quadrants.
Cyclone - a severe tropical storm
Diablo - Northern California version of Santa Ana winds. These winds occur below canyons in the East Bay hills (Diablo range) and in extreme cases can exceed 60 mph. They develop due to high pressure over Nevada and lower pressure along the central California coast. (NWS San Francisco Glossary)
Euros - the Greek name for the rainy, stormy southeast wind.
Foehn - a warm dry wind on the lee side of a mountain range, whose temperature is increased as the wind descends down the slope.
Hurricane - a severe tropical storm
Knik Wind - a strong southeast wind in the vicinity of Palmer, Alaska, most frequent in the winter.
Maestro - a northwesterly wind with fine weather which blows, especially in summer.
Maria - a fictional wind.
Nor'easter - a northeast wind, particularly a strong wind or gale.
Nor'wester - this is a very warm wind which can blow for days on end.
Norther - a cold strong northerly wind in the Southern Plains of the United States, especially in Texas, which results in a drastic drop in air temperatures. Also called a Blue Norther. (Glossary of Weather and Climate)
Santa Ana - a strong, hot, dry wind blowing out into San Pedro Channel from the southern California desert through Santa Ana Pass.
Squamish - a strong and often violent wind occurring in many of the fjords of British Columbia.
The Trour Whisperer