4 months and 4 fish, honestly 4 months and 4 fish. We all have our dry spells, but for me that record equates to drier than a dead dingos donger, last time I fished this dry I lived on a dairy farm and the cows produced nothing but powdered milk, hell, I might even add that it was drier than a nuns... Ok, I won't extend quite that far but the message should be clear that I was due and frankly I had earned my opportunity to seek out an epic "bobber" bite.
Off to the dry side or should I say frozen side. I took a chance that the lakes I wanted to moisten my experience with would be open enough to allow me to worship the pear shaped orb and promises were abounding as I past several open ponds and one very open lake that sat next to my destination. I rounded a corner though and felt the same way I did when I fell out of a tree onto my ass when I was 10. No breath left in me after a 3 hour drive.
The launch passed the rock throw ice break through attempt multiple times so onto plan B. A hike to the far end found me facing open water and a bit of the giddiness returned until I realized that the car only held my "boat" waders, not my pontoon boat waders. An epic Orvis wader seem failure years ago repaired with Flex Seal wouldn't quite hold up to 10 hours of soaking. I find a rock ledge make a couple of casts, land a couple of thick 12" bows but this isn't what I need, I need boat time with my Irish Death and my two rod endorsement. Plan C?
The drive to the next lake likely happened faster than the allowable limit, but no this is not where the hot cop comes in. Open water, open launch, no other trailers on a weekend, did I miss the memo? I unstrap the boat I'm hauling over for @b_illymac
and as I'm tossing rods in, the lake cried out for a cast or two. Step up, make cast, indicator hits water, sits, indicates and suspends a nice 12" bow. Release, cast repeat, cast repeat, cast, miss, miss, hook up, perch, perch, perch, perch, perch.
More than double the fish of the last third of the year, but more, I want more and I need to let b_illymac know if his boat does more than float. I back the boat down, start to prepare for the maiden voyage, and an old guy starts chatting me up. Knowledge is knowledge and he wants to trade some. The bargain seemed cheap enough so I indulged him. Apparently the days prior, he had been catching many fish, but today he hadn't touched a thing and he wanted to know what I was using. My kind of guy
He is standing there, a somewhat spry octogenarian with no pride and even though I offered, he wouldn't take my literal hand outs of flies. He did let me give him knowledge though, and he exchanged it with a bit of his own. He told me to be careful of the wind today. He took my knowledge and returned to his rock, I watched him hook one as I motored by. I on the other hand arrogantly ignored his.
50+ stamped out 10" to 12" bows later, nothing much more to report. I did con a couple of 5 years old twins in to believing that I need some help with some flies and a swivel though. The dad and mom had trucked them out in order to put them into some fish, but without much luck from shore. Not really knowing how well the dad would accept advice and help, I played my offer off as him helping me to try some techniques intended for my 5 year old. He happily accepted the help and quickly hooked a few for his boy and girl. Part of my day was made.
At some point the wind really started to pick up, but it was blowing toward the launch so I didn't worry too much and actually anchoring in ice keeps the boat stable. That is where I picked up quite a few fish actually. I anchored in the ice and fished the edges. At some point, I figured I could break a hole and drop my flies and indicator in. It worked and I landed my first Ice Fishing Fly Caught Bow Under an Indicator. As the wind continued to howl, the ice started to break more and more and the sound of it alone gave me pause enough to take in the moment, but fish need to be caught and virgin water now newly exposed needs to be explored.
I motored up the side of the lake exploring further and further until I found a likely haunt for probing. Anchor down a newly cracked beer, a moments pause and time for a nap. The day was relatively warm, and as @Nick Clayton
can attest, I can handle my cold weather. Ask him about the 19 degree standing temp with an unknown windchill sometime. So I'm not really sure what happened next. I think I slept longer than I'm used to out on a lake, couple that with the wind chill, shade of the rock wall I was anchored next to, the lack of an extra wader layer warmth and suddenly I'm brought to a mild state of hypothermia, a scary mild state of hypothermia.
I recover enough senses as I wake up to pull anchor and start motoring down the lake, but not enough senses to actually reel in the indicator line I have out. I only lost two flies and 2' off the tip of my Rio Indicator line in that particular debacle, but honestly I'm not sure as I look back how. I just found the 2 foot section in my boat and tippet material wrapped around my prop, when I was mostly processing accurately about 2 hours later.
I made it back out past the ice shelf and ignorantly believed I could fish again. I woke up 20 yards from the launch with no recollection of how I got there. I think I came too when some shore fisherman started yelling at me for messing with their fishing. Luckily or not, a couple or English speaking older gentleman managed to help me get to my car so I could warm up. I'm not sure how long they sat there outside my car, but at some point as I started coming to, I realized that they were as much standing guard as they were showing concern. Each time I would attempt to hop out and thank them and let them know that they could head on their way they would usher me back to my car to warm up. Most likely for the best, but I'm not ultimately stupid and after some probing they revealed that they had called the Sheriff on me. They had seen the 5 empty beer cans in the bottom of my boat and assumed that I was wasted. One even admitted that he was a teetotaler and I imagine his mind that 2 beer cans would have equaled wasted. I kind of felt a bit of pity for them at this point. They meant nothing but good and in their concern they felt it best that I remain where I was until the police arrived. I happily obliged, but I also wanted to pack up the boat because the day wanted to pass into night.
About the time I started to pull the boat out, the Sheriff arrived and seeing the nervousness on my saviors faces, I agreed to meet her half way up the ramp. They quickly scooted off now that I was in the proper hands and it was just me and her. Yes, this is where the hot cop comes in, but hot cop just sounded good as a thread title and it isn't really how I would have described her in real life. Don't get me wrong, she was definitely cute but cop isn't the most endearing description of an officer of the law. She exuded that perfect balance of authority and compassion. It didn't take her long to process that I was just cold, not wasted and she expressed just a hint of sympathy for both me and the guys who called me in. From there she took down my information and just to be safe gave me a breathalyzer. Up too this point, she may have still partially believed that I was drunk, but the blow hard devise (my first time with a police officer by the way) proved that I was stone cold, cold, cold, cold, sober, emphasis on cold. She then helped me load my boat even though she shivered herself through the process.
Once it was obvious that I was fine she too headed out and I was left with a decision about what to do next. Originally I planned to camp out in the mini van, but I thought it might prove a better idea to find someplace warm and comfortable to crash for the evening. b_illymac still needed his boat, so I figured a Moses Lake hotel would be just as good as any place else. Enter the Guinea Pig and Part 2.
Pictures and video to come.