Down the dirt road from us we have neighbors that we visit back and forth. They are our friends Karen and Wayne. Over the past few years we have had the chance to get to know one another and share many interests and activities living on the same road for the past 20 years or more.
Last weekend was the fishing opener for us here in the Minnesota North country. It is one of the few things in Spring that offers a glimpse of coming out of a long winter and the beginnings of entering into the mosquito and thunderstorm and tornado days of Summer. While usually around the opener it is cold and rainy or a mix of sleet and snow and some of the more Northern lakes not even having ice out, this opener was an exception to the rule. It actually was warmer than it has been and there were sunny skies. Oftentimes, being that we are close to lakes and can get out on the lakes anytime, we skip the opener and leave it for those that drive up from the Cities and make the trek out to the busy lakes on opening day.
My Best Half and I had a chance recently to meet up with our friends Karen and Wayne out at one of the lakes around here to do some fishing for some crappies and sunnies the day before the opener. It was a chance to hit a lake before the crowds of pontoons and bass boats came lurking around the fishing piers and shoreline.
We made plans to meet up at the lake nearby and do some shore fishing and see if we could catch a few fish coming into shallow warmer water to spawn. The plan was to meet around 7:00-8:00 am and spend a little time together.
We got to the shoreline around 8 and Wayne and Karen had already been there since about 6:30 scoping out the shoreline. Wayne had caught some small stuff. We decided to go and try the actual fishing pier since there was no one there fishing. Everyone was on the shoreline as we had had several inches of rain and the water level was pretty high. And no one wanted to walk through the water to get up on the dock, except for one other person. So Wayne and I schlepped through the water and hopped on the dock while our spouses stayed on shore and visited with each other. Unlike Wayne and me, our spouses aren’t as intense and into fishing as Wayne and I are.
Once there we casted out our lines and we came upon lots of huge plump fat crappies and sunnies. One by one with each cast the fish were chomping on our hooks. First a few, then a dozen and then pretty soon the bucket was full to the brim with the huge panfish. All around us few were catching the fish like we were. We were enjoying reeling in some big fish.
This was my first time fishing with Wayne. I like to usually fish alone, often just because I can go where I want and not have to keep a conversation going with another person. It becomes more of a time of a quiet solitude with nature and my surroundings, a chance to re-energize my soul.
That day out on the dock, I realized fishing with Wayne was like looking in the mirror. His fishing style is much like mine. There was no fancy equipment and tackle that he was changing out every few minutes to try to get that elusive Walleye, there was just him and his simple rod and reel with a hook and bobber, slamming and hauling in fat fish one after another.
Our conversation on the dock that day was bits and pieces of other fishing memories we shared as kids and places we had fished. Nothing urgent, nothing that even required a response more than a nod or an occasional “yeah”. There was a quiet solitude and friendship there between Wayne and me. A time to just gaze out on the lake and watch our bobbers dancing up and down on the water. A chance to reel in some nice fish.
It wasn’t too long after setting up on the dock that we had enough fish to call it a successful
morning. It was time to go and walk back into the reality of our day.
As we were leaving Wayne and Karen loaded up the fish and invited us for a fish fry. I’m not sure it could get any better than that first morning fishing this year. Not only did we catch some nice big fish, but we got invited to the fish fry…and it wouldn’t involve me having to fillet any fish! Or really do any frying of the fish. Talk about a win-win situation. That never happens to me. I always have to fillet them and fry them. And it is a lot of work when you have so many panfish.
We headed down the road to their house in the evening and were welcomed into their home with the smell of fresh sunnies and crappies in the pan and a feast that left my stomach full and my heart filled to the brim with gratitude for our friends down the dirt road. Here’s to some more great fishing times. Tight lines, everyone!