Friday, June 14, was a rare and exceeding gift.
There was almost no humidity. The temperatures were in the high 70s. It felt like a fall day in the middle of June and I had the rarest of all gifts, a day off from work.
My bride Mary and I hit the water for a day of fishing. It turned out to be a glorious day for that too.
As I’ve written here many times in the past, Mary enjoys bluegill fishing. So that’s what we primarily target when she goes out.
We spent the morning in one of our favorite haunts and caught quite a few bluegills, some large enough to put in the livewell for an introduction to a filet knife later.
Normally, our trips are 2 or 3 hours and then we do something else. But it was so pleasant, we ended up making a day of it.
We’d run out of crickets and were headed in when Mary pointed out one of her favorite banks to fish and said it sure would be nice to troll down it.
“We can do that,” I replied. “We just need to get some more crickets.”
I also suggested we could grab a burger and have some lunch before starting the second phase of our day.
There was some debate about who would take the truck to the bait shop and the burger joint for the supplies. Then we decided we’d just load the boat back on the trailer, go get the crickets and the burgers together and take a little break.
A chance to use the restroom, wash our hands and eat a burger was just the break we needed before heading back out. We trolled Mary’s bank, but the sun was beating down on us by then.
After a couple hours, I could tell Mary was getting hot.
“We’ll head in,” I said. “But I’ve got one more place a buddy told me about that I at least want to check before we go in. There are some trees and I think we can be in the shade.”
We headed to my friend’s spot, found a shady place and Mary’s spirits immediately picked up.
I readily admit that I struggle with bass fishing. I’m lucky to get on the lake once a week and I find it hard to keep up with the locations the bass are using.
We are no experts, but we caught a few small bass in my pal’s spot. It was very generous of him to tell me about it and I enjoyed it immensely.
Over the course of our day, we caught bluegill, shellcracker, some other varieties of bream, a flathead catfish, a blue catfish and a handful of small bass. I lost count early in the adventure but guessed the total haul for the day at around 130 fish. That sounds like a lot, but it’s really not when you’re padding the numbers with bluegill, the fish that makes everyone feel like an expert.
38 ended up being big enough to clean at the end of the day. It's rare for me to keep and clean fish, even bluegill. But you should keep some every now and then just so your filet skills don't get rusty.
Our season total, for anyone who cares to keep up with the "1,000-fish challenge" (my personal quest of catching 1,000 fish in a single year, which has never happened) is a little over 400 fish.
We broke off some lures in some snags late in the day so I had a lot of tackle to re-rig following our adventure. After cleaning fish, I was tired and working on tackle didn’t happen until the next day.
Please remember that the sun was bearing down on us pretty hard as we started the second half of the day.
When I rig tackle, there’s a glider rocker in our kitchen. The light is a little better there and I take my stuff and work on it in the rocker. The next afternoon as I sat working on our tackle, my daughter Anna walked by and giggled.
“Dad, there’s a strange tan line on your head,” she said.
I am newly bald. I gave up on the combover or flopover or whatever you want to call it several weeks ago and had the mess cut off. I wore a mesh ball cap fishing. I had a weird T-shaped tan line on my noggin afterwards. An acquaintance said it looked like I had “thong head.”
Live and learn. The next time I go, I’ll put sunscreen on top of my head or get me one of those do-rags.
It turns out a mesh ball cap is no protection from the sun, but looking back, it was a small price to pay for a great day on the lake.