Sunday, July 3, 2022
Fishing with Grandpa Louie
I finally had a day last week where the wind wasn’t blowing hard like in the movie “The Wizard of Oz”. I had a chance to get out in the kayak and do some fishing. This year it seems that we have had so many days with such strong winds blowing. Like steady 20-30 mph winds. It’s been really hard to get out on the lake.
But the other morning I woke up early to a gentle breeze for a change and decided to hit the lake before the winds picked up. I loaded up the kayak and threw in the trolling motor I have designed to mount on it and off I went to one of the 10,000 plus Minnesota lakes that is nearby. It was a beautiful morning and since it was a weekday, I pretty much had the lake to myself except for a few boats spread out down a mile or so from where I wound up.
With the kayak I was able to scoot into shallow bays and weedy areas that the boats were unable to go. We have had a cold Spring and it seems the water is finally warming up enough that fish are in the shallow water spawning. The sun was shining and the morning was starting to warm up nicely. I found my spot tucked out of sight from others and out of the breeze so I didn’t even have to anchor down.
As I sat there casting my line and catching fish after fish, I was reminded of fishing up at the cabin with Grandpa Louie. He and his wife Grandma Clara had a cabin down the road from ours when I was a kid. They were the in-laws to my dad’s partner on the police force, Doug. Doug and his family and Grandpa Louie’s cabin sat next to each other just down the dirt road. Grandpa Louie and Grandma Clara were some of the best people to go fishing with if you wanted to catch fish. Grandpa Louie knew the lake like the back of his hands. He knew every crick (creek) feeding into the lake, every inlet, every depth and best of all…where the fish were biting.
My brothers and I got to go fishing with Grandpa Louie often and it was always an experience. He had an old blue wooden flat bottom boat with a small motor. Nothing fancy by today’s standards, but that little blue boat took us everywhere where there were fish. We could always hear Grandpa Louie heading down our way in his boat to pick us up for fishing.
Grandpa Louie was quite hard of hearing and never did wear hearing aids that I can remember. They were always sitting on an end table in the cabin. So I guess he assumed if he couldn’t hear, the rest of us probably couldn’t either. He spoke very loudly and could be heard quite a ways down the lake if he was talking over the outboard motor. If Grandma Clara was with in the boat…let’s just say you could hear them chatting from a good ½ mile away.
One of the last times I went fishing with Grandpa Louie was an early Summer evening. One of my brother’s and I hopped in the blue boat and off we went to catch some fish. We had launched out from Grandpa Louie’s cabin and he went about 40 feet away and put the anchor down. It was an odd spot for fishing I thought. No weeds nearby, Kind of deep, and in the middle of nowhere basically. We looked at him and he told us to start fishing. So we baited up our lines and cast out. We sat there getting not even a bite. We knew there was no fish at this spot.
Grandpa Louie cast out his line and sat there for a bit watching the lake. And one by one in a manner of about 20 minutes there were 3 or 4 boats encroaching near where we were fishing. They stayed about 20 feet away but still were mighty close for a lake as big as we were anchored on. There is kind of an unwritten rule of fishing to not go so close to another boat that you can cast your line right into their boat.
After all the boats around us were anchored and situated, Grandpa Louie had us pull up the anchor and bring in our lines. He didn’t really say much of anything, but you could see he had this planned all along. He had the reputation on the lake of knowing where the fish were always biting any season of the year, so people would watch where he would fish. So his plan worked like a charm.
He started out fishing in an unlikely spot to draw attention to himself so others would start fishing near him. Then when everyone was anchored and really couldn’t leave so soon because it would be pretty obvious they were following him, he would pull up his anchor and leave them all there wondering how to save face so it wouldn’t look like they were following Grandpa Louie. Alll they could do was stay there for a bit longer.
Meanwhile our boat was heading off to the real fishing spot that Grandpa Louie was taking us. We went way back in a channel off the lake in the bullrushes where no one could see us and put down the anchor. The water was crystal clear and the crappies abundant and huge. We actually would put our line next to the crappie we had picked out down in that clear water. One of the best moments ever was fishing that day.
As I sat there in my kayak this past week, I watched as boats started going by out in the deeper water. As they approached, they would slow down and gawk as I was reeling in fish after fish. But as Grandpa Louie had taught me, I had my fish basket on the other side where no one could see my catch. I just took off the enormous sunnies and crappies and pretended to throw them back in the lake on the other side, making it look like they were too small to keep.
I was out for a few hours that morning and caught my limit and had a relaxing time on the lake. Grandpa Louie, if you’re watching, you taught me well!