Sunday, June 2, 2019

Great Day on Way-Way--Wawayanda Lake

My wife got a kick out of this photo.

Brian and I have been jinxed for a couple of years, breaking the cycle of not getting out as we try to plan and ice fishing in January, today finally getting out on Wawayanda Lake. I didn't quite realize beforehand how long the drive, about 20 minutes further distant after passing Greenwood Lake, near the New York state border. My son and I fished here in July or August 2011, the boat rental shop opening at 8:00 a.m., and I think I paid, without any reservation, $120.00. We got skunked. (Matt did loose something big that took a herring he let down deep.) It was a sweet day. Bittersweet. That feeling wasn't going to tinge this day. 

The way I feel now is the way I expected to feel. The afterglow of a successful day. It started out OK, us launching around 7:00 a.m., after I had got to Brian's house before 5:00. My Minn-Kota hustled that squareback towards the far end, where my sonar unit showed plenty of depth to scout for herring schools and salmon on them. The screen froze. I tried disconnecting the battery a number of times and restarting. Nothing showed on the screen at all. Just the water temperature. 69.

"That's alright," Brian said, "We can rely on Joe's unit." His friend had arrived here at 4:30 a.m. from Rancocas south of Trenton. He pointed to Joe's one-man pontoon in the distance, got out his mobile device, and asked him if he was marking any. Very few.

"Bruce is bent out of shape," he said.

I knew the day was no loss without another screen to look at, but the need of repair after just two or three years of use, especially when just yesterday I got a check in the mail for an article published and felt that bonus feeling of money going to the savings account, stuck me. We tried and tried to catch a salmon, Jim never finding a real school of herring and salmon on them, us getting a couple of really good drifts under a light breeze, but Brian got the only hit, until later, after the two of us turned to pickerel and bass, Jim lost a couple of salmon that hit his spinner. Meanwhile, I came out of my silly withdrawal. I knew in my head it's not worth quibbling over, but I fight for every cent; paid an hourly wage by a supermarket, very little of that going towards outings like today's, most of it supporting my son's Boston University education, so paying for the likes--although I thank Brian for his generosity in buying the bait today, a big Frabill bait unit, and driving us up there--and for paying the cost of all of my equipment by getting paid for writing, this didn't mean I was set back so much as in need of keeping up, as I have for more than a decade. Besides, had I remembered then how much it cost to fish this lake with my son, how willing I was to take the opportunity, I could have told myself all the more that equipment failure is not worth the trouble of misgiving.

You tell yourself it's not, but if you're in the habit of getting ahead on little, it takes awhile to bounce back. Maybe not long. Soon out of the mood, I never missed the graph.

Brian learned a neat method from his Uncle for catching pickerel and bass. Former Frank's Bait and Tackle, on the way here, and from what I understand from Brian most anglers still call the shop, now named Tackle and Field, used to sell redfin shiners imported from Arkansas, big ones about five inches long. "They were for lunkers. We didn't get many hits on them, but the bass were big."'

They became unavailable, and Brian and his uncle tried the herring they used for salmon on the bass and pickerel, getting results. Instead of anchoring, or floating out the wind, and waiting on the bobbers to go under, Brian had me set the electric motor on low speed, trolling them, bait set about five feet underneath, through weedy water 10 to 15 feet deep. It works. We caught three pickerel apiece and I also caught the biggest black crappie I've ever caught, about 13 inches. Maybe the only black crappie I've caught. I once caught a 15-inch white crappie at Spruce Run Reservoir, and that's the only specie of the two I remember catching. Plenty of those and plenty this big, but I like the dark shade a lot better. Brian also lost three pickerel and a bass. I lost a few, too.

We had forgotten the wire leaders bought at Frank's. I feel responsible on two counts. They were stashed on the passenger side, and I told Brian out on the lake that 20-pound test fluorocarbon leader should suffice. He later said all three of his lost pickerel bit through. One of those three was bigger than any we caught. Maybe I'm sold on wire leaders now. When we ice fished in January, pickerel bit through fluorocarbon then, too.

We went through four dozen herring. Some of them died, but the Frabill unit--big as a cooler--kept them alive a long while.

I suggest weightless plastic worms. Out of the wind--I had forgotten my anchor--Brian hooked a nice bass that came half way out of the water, displaying the wide-opened mouth of a three pounder. He also hooked a small bass that leapt off. I missed one hit from a bass. Panfish seem attracted to the impregnated scent. They pull on the worms a lot.

We were out for hours. Slowing down. Slowing down better than you can read this entire post. Rain came and we headed towards the ramp, coming upon another cove out of the wind as rain subsided. There we caught three bass and a pickerel. Brian was the first to break with targeting the edge of thick weeds as he began reeling his worm over the stuff, getting hit on the first cast. "Just like the Princeton Day School Ponds," he said.

I had fished bass there the same way. Eventually, I tied on a Scum Frog, a soft weedless topwater froggy thing that took three or four missed hits. One of those hits, Brian pointed out, might have been successful, had I waited a second before I tried to set. I know that in principle, but it's still hard to know that in habit, the way it counts.

On the lake eight hours, by the time I got home in Bedminster, more than 14 hours had passed since I had awakened after about four hours of sleep. Brian had bought two Monster energy drinks before we got on I-287 South; I settled on a mix of nuts, filling and plenty good for energy, and I drove the 45 minutes home from Brian's house without feeling exhausted. I cleaned the crappie for dinner and two rainbow trout given me by someone at the ramp who decided he didn't want them--a 12-incher and 16-incher--and got an hour of sleep before I unloaded equipment from my car. My canoe stays at Brian's, thanks to him, and thanks to restrictive condo association measures, but the battery is back on the charger upstairs, and the electric motor in its place. Brian can use my canoes any time he pleases.

The important thing about outings like this is the enjoyment of the day, but plenty of thought goes into them afterwards, more than I ever disclose in a post. If I gave up this mad fishing, this hard work at preparing equipment and carrying a heavy battery and carrying a canoe that weighs 110 pounds up a fairly steep slope to where its kept and, in general, utterly breaking with the comfort of routine, I wouldn't sin against the social system involving work hours that tends to reign us in to habits of obedience; I would sin against life. Brian and I have a way out of getting told what to do. Better. We find life the way anyone knows it as his or her best, and speaking for myself, I'm not only willing to suffer for that, I find the suffering is a lot less than I would think it is, if I didn't get out and have a day with a friend like today.

At the ramp, Brian got out and asked me to look for the keys to his truck in the bottom of the canoe. Not there. "Maybe I left them in the truck."

He came back, "They have to be in the canoe."

They weren't.

"Brian, how could you lose your keys?!" I said, feeling they couldn't really be lost. And in that moment my hand went for my pocket. "They're in my pocket!"

He had me go get something last minute in the morning. Both of us had forgotten.  

Joe and his one-man pontoon.








6 comments:

  1. That was quite a day, sorry I had to work. The pictures are not loading for me (I.E. or Firefox browsers). Same for the 1st picture but not the 2nd on your Zoo post. New camera or format change?

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    1. Maybe it's the camera. The D850 came out in 2017 (which accounts for why I had to buy brand new, not refurbished). Try Google. Thought of you. Brian really likes your idea of getting all the blog heroes together, too.

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  2. Scout Fishing trip this weekend to Winnebago and end of year picnic on Monday at Schiff. Three days of fishing, AWESOME! Full report and pic's next week.

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    1. Jog my memory, oh, near Alamuchy? Look forward to the report.

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  3. Rt 80 to Green Pond Road, Durham Pond. It actually feeds into Splitrock Res.

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    1. Wasn't sure if it was the other camp closer to Jefferson Lake. Durham Pond has to have some really big bass. Didn't know it feeds into Splitrock.

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