Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Night to be Thankful

When the Ranger meets a Yamaha
Last week was our 41st Annual Team Walleye fishing opener at Leech Lake.  There is a lot to tell however I am compelled to write about my experience on Monday night as we were leaving to fish the evening session. After enjoying a wonderful steak dinner for the last meal of our stay at Leech Lake Jeremy, Jared, and myself were determined to make the night a successful outing and as always, was anxious to get going.  I'm not as nervous as I used to be and was one of the last to leave the dock which was OK as the bite hadn't been very good anyway.  Leaving the harbor at around 6:10, I headed out about 200 to 300 yards off shore as Monday night finds very few boats on the lake.  Although the rain made driving difficult, never the less it was OK as we headed out to Pine Point.  As we left I scanned the path ahead and as expected it was clear. With my passengers on the left side of the boat, I usually ask them to keep an eye out as they form my blind spot but with nobody on the lake, I felt we were safe.  We hadn't gone a mile when out of nowhere the boat hit something hard..............another boat.   Everything turned to slow motion as I caught the boat in the corner of my eye as we passed by.  Immediately I turned around to find we had clipped the back end of a Lund, hit the motor as we glanced off.  What went through my mind is every boat owners nightmare yet my first impression was to check my passengers then return to the other boat to make sure they were OK. Fortunately they were understandably shaken but fine, we spent the next few minutes calming down.  Mike, the owner of the boat was surprisingly gracious as his concerns were the same as mine, everyone was still in one piece, shaken but unscathed.  With the rain coming down I managed to give him my information while he already had his friend coming to pull him in.  Finding out he was staying in our old cabin at Brindley's I would meet him later that evening.  After insisting that he needed no further help we decided to stay our course and fish the rest of the evening.  Returning at 10:15, I had already called my insurance and secured a claim number and contact information to give to Mike.  After a brief talk he went out of his way to assure me that everything was fine, boats can be fixed.
My Ranger damage
 Being the guy that ruined his night and could have made his life much more difficult, Mike is an amazing person.  Back at the cabin the Cass County Sheriff's deputy showed up to take a statement. He was a very nice guy as I cooperated fully with his requests.  Stopping at the resort office in the morning, I talked to Tim and Greg about the previous evening while another man was sitting at the counter having coffee.  Being right there he looked at me and explained that Mike and him broadsided a boat 5 years ago, something that I remembered.  I guess you never know how it feels until it's happened to you.  Bottom line for me is the fact that I always have high expectations and this shattered it.  My friends have told me that it should be a humbling experience as I am always on the Guy's case to be better, I guess it's my nature. Thinking about it I'm not sure humbling is the way I feel.  Embarrassed, angry at myself as I look back at everything that lead up to the event, looking at what I did wrong, I take full responsibility.  I am in charge of the boat and assuming that I can count on anyone to assure a safe trip is simply wrong.  The safety of my passengers and those who share the waters is on me, something that I do understand, one can never let his guard down.  As far as being humbled, I don't need to run over a boat to be humbled. On the other hand, dealing with Mike and asking for his forgiveness, which he accepted, that's humbling.

My first Walleye of the Season
So, I did catch some fish! Honestly the fishing was quite a bit slower than we expected as 2008 had ice on the lake as we fished and the fishing was fabulous.  Usually we fish with large shiners however the late spring assured that the selection would be limited as we settled for what we could get, about the size of a standard fathead minnow.  Along with small shiners we did take about 2 dozen small pike sucker minnows, a decision that would prove to be successful.  Thinking the walleyes were shallow it was difficult to establish a pattern. Some caught them in 12 feet while others did well in 8 feet.  We divide our fishing into 6 sessions, one in the morning and one after dinner for 3 days.  With 21 guys and 7 boats, 3 guys to a boat, success varied from 5 walleyes over 12 inches per boat to no walleyes caught.  It wasn't till Monday night before the fish really started turning on.  There was a lot of 20 to 26 inch walleyes caught with few under 20 inches, the top of the slot.  The population of large walleyes prompted the DNR to move the protected slot from 18" - 26" protected to 20" - 26" protected.  Apparently the smaller males had not come into the shallows yet to spawn and the whole lake was in flux.  For the first 2 days most of the walleyes were caught in 10 - 12 feet of water and we sure worked for them.  Monday afternoon I drove to Reed's Sports in Walker and after picking up a few stinger hooks, some 12# monofilament line, and some shiner minnows, my nephew Kevin Anderson and I contemplated the advice.....go deep, the fish haven't hit the shallows yet.  Something told me that there still has to be something somewhere as we headed back to the cabin.  After having a nice steak then dealing with my issue, Jared, Jeremy and I headed to Duck Point, an area that had produced a number of fish over the last 2 days to try to nail some walleyes.  We did manage to get 2 keeper walleyes in about 90 minutes however my plan was to troll shad raps on the east side of Ottertail Point.  At 8:25 we headed over and started trolling Shad Raps in 5 - 7 feet of water, about 40 feet from the rocky shoreline.  I did this on Sunday night and only caught 3 yet I just had the feeling.  The feeling is something difficult to explain as it's almost an
My Nephew Kevin
instinct emotion.  Following my instinct has proved successful as a number of times my boat and the guys in it have taken advantage to win the biggest fish, most pints, and best team.  Well, trolling 1 1/2 hours we managed to catch 11 walleyes in the boat, good for the best single session points total and allowed me to wind the best points total for the tournament.  What was more important, Jeremy caught 4 walleyes using a method that only I tend to use...he was pretty happy.  Of the 11 walleyes caught 9 of them were under 20 inches that we could keep.  With keeper walleyes at a premium, it was a welcome addition to our total catch.  We do keep track of our catch rates with a scoring system on Sunday we hold a draft, the lowest point total can chose who he fishes with.  Because there is 2 guys per boat we have 2 rounds.   I was lucky to have my nephew Kevin Anderson as well as my great friend, Mark Taylor.  While fishing was challenging, Kevin caught a nice walleye, about 23 inches.  He is a great guy and I love hanging around with him as he's not afraid to work and loves to fish.  Unfortunately Kevin's score for 6 sessions of fishing was dismal at best and he ended up receiving the DCS (Didn't Catch S**t) Award for the least amount of points.  Mostly fishing with his dad who is my brother, they didn't do very well.  Someday he'll learn who he needs to align himself with, Uncle Dave or Dad!  In the end we had a great time.  Adam got a full workout with his new boat, we still had enough fish for our Sunday Night Fish Fry, and were still able to bring a couple of fish home.  It's been 2 years since we last fished Leech and quite honestly, it seemed like yesterday.  It's always fun to see Tim, Greg, and Paris at Brindley's and we are already planning for next year, something that will come too soon.  Thanks Mark Mayerich for arranging a great trip, we could not do it without you.

All I can say is be safe, pay attention, and have fun.  Stuff happens and when it happens to you, learn from your mistakes.


Duane said...

Maybe the next gadget you add to the boat ought to be radar.....
Glad no one was hurt. It could have been tragic.

Dave Anderson said...

no kidding

Jeff King said...

Holy moly. Thank goodness it was a glancing blow. You can't worry about what didn't happen. But, the damage doesn't look bad, his cowling made for a tow job?

Dave Anderson said...

Well, the estimate came in at $5600..........Ouch!

Anonymous said...

Another reason to always wear a life jacket. Even when not moving yourself.

Otto said...

God that sucks.

Can ruin your whole weekend.

Glad no one was hurt!