Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Great Fishing Adventure - Part 4 Time To Catch Some Fish, Eh?

We got up bright and early raring to go. As you can see, the sun was trying very hard to poke through all the clouds but it wasn't quite making it. It was still quite chilly. I wish I would have packed some warmer shirts or a heavier jacket. But we were concerned about weight so we were packing light. I had one sweatshirt, a couple T-shirts, and this very light-weight windbreaker designed to keep out wind and rain, but did absolutely nothing for the cold. It got better later in the day but the mornings were very chilly all week except for the last day we were there.

But we were there to fish and a little briskness in the air was not going to stop us. We loaded our gear into the boats and climbed aboard. The boats were the perfect size for two people each. Fathers and sons were paired up. As our dad had both his sons with, Jeremy and I agreed to take turns alternating days. Jeremy hadn't been fishing in a long time so he got the first day with dad and I climbed in with uncle Rick who unfortunately, didn't have his son on this trip.

Meaning no disrespect to Canadians, we couldn't resist putting an "eh" at the end of every sentence. As the boats left the dock, you could hear a constant stream of words like, "catch lots of fish, eh?" and "we're sure gonna try, eh?"

The dads were the veterans of Canada fishing so we looked to them for advice how to best coax the elusive fish into the boat. They had the best luck on previous trips trolling with crank baits. So we started with that. It allowed us to get an idea of the size and shape of the lake as well. So we started cruising.

And cruising, and cruising, and cruising, and cruising. Did I mention we were cruising? The fishing was really slow. I believe a few of us managed to snag some small fish but nothing of edible size. We attempted to work the radios to see if anyone else was having any luck. We had 2 pairs of radios so there was one in each boat. Each radio could talk to it's mate, but even though they were on the same frequency, one pair could only listen to anything sent from the other brand. Eventually, though, the message was routed around that no one was having much luck.

So our thoughts turned to breakfast. One by one the boats headed back in for some food. For some reason, my dad and Jeremy assumed the majority of the cooking. They are both phenomenal cooks but I felt bad it seemed like they were always in the kitchen. Here my memory fails me just a bit. Our breakfasts alternated between bacon and eggs, bacon and pancakes, and my dad's world renowned biscuits and sausage gravy. He always gets cajoled into making this any time the family gets together. He mixes a combination of spicy and regular sausage in a country gravy and you ladle it over hot biscuits and you have a delicious meal that sticks to the ribs and really warms you up.

I remember every meal I ate up there but can't remember the breakfasts. I believe we started out with biscuits and gravy. That's what it looks like dad is making in the photo also. Rick and dad also brought 2 bottles of Arizona Gunslinger hot sauce. Dad had the red pepper sauce and Rick brought the green pepper sauce. If you like things like Tabasco and Frank's Red Hot, you will LOVE Arizona Gunslinger. It's got the perfect combination of jalapenos, garlic, and other spices to take it over the top. So we kicked up the biscuits and gravy a few notches with the gunslinger. I told them I'd love a few bottles the next time we get together.

I don't think I mentioned in the last post that our cabin was filthy when we arrived. The previous guests are expected to leave the cabin clean for the next group, but this had not been done, neither had the owners been in to check or clean anything. We also had leftover food still in the refrigerator in various states of decomposition. There was quite a bit of cleaning necessary to make it fit for human habitation. One thing, however, we were very happy to have been left were several containers of salted minnows.

I remember reading some of the literature on our lake and it had said something about people having the best luck with salted minnows. It would turn out that was pretty much the only thing that would allow us to catch some fish.

So we took some out and started jigging with the minnows. They were kind of stinky and in various states of decomposition. They were also very soft, so if you got a nibble without hooking a fish, that meant you could probably say goodbye to your minnow.

But we did finally hook into some fish. I still think my brother looks like Gilligan, even with the cool shades. Here's Jeremy with one of his fine catches.

And, of course, my dad. The dads were a huge reason any of us sons got to go on this trip. These memories are priceless. My meager words cannot begin to describe how thankful and blessed I am to have the family I do. Thanks Dad. It looks like his finger was little bloody. Sometimes you got caught by those teeth.

Here is a shot of my uncle Dave sporting a nice catch. It appears we will not be going hungry this evening.

This is my cousin Eric, Dave's son. A nicer young man you will never meet. And, by the way, a very eligible bachelor for any single females out there. I felt sorry for him because he got more than a few suggestions about prospective females he should settle down with. He was very polite and took it all in stride, but I got the feeling he wasn't actively seeking marital commitment at the time. Sorry Eric, that was probably more information than you wanted me divulge. Time to move on with the adventure.

We stopped briefly at the cabin for a quick sandwich and got back on the lake. This really is the life to just eat when you want, fish when you want, do whatever else you want. My schedule is mostly decided for me when I'm at home or work so discretionary leisure time is a cherished treasure.

Eventually it got to be supper time and we had caught enough for the evening meal. Tonight was fish fry night.

One of the goals I had for this trip was to learn how to clean fish. I've gone fishing a number of times in my life but someone else had always done this. I'd never had the opportunity to learn. I was determined to acquire this skill on the trip. My uncle John got fish cleaning duty pretty much the whole week. His son John Allen is standing behind him and I'm the one leaning up against the doorway with my arms folded. Don't you just love the shot of my nose in the corner? I was studying how to do this and eventually took my turn at the knife. I got better as the week wore on but still need more practice. I'm really slow and leave more meat on the fish bones than someone with more expert skill, but for the most part I accomplished that particular goal.

Jeremy and dad were the chefs again. The menu was fried fish, fried potatoes, and some kind of vegetable. I think we had corn and green beans but I can't remember which one we used for this meal.

I must recommend an excellent coating if you enjoy fried fish. Dakota Lakes Products, Inc. makes a truly wonderful breading. It is a North Dakota product made in the Jamestown area. You can order some online and is available at certain grocery stores in ND. It is delicious with fish.

After a truly wonderful meal, we did go back out and try to catch some more but didn't have much luck. The mosquitoes turn vicious when the sun goes down so you really needed to get back in the cabin before it got too dark.

And so ends another extremely enjoyable day.


Steve at Random said...

I could almost taste the homemade biscuits and gravy along with the fried fish. My brother Randy is a great fish fryer and my brother-in-law Todd makes the best sausage and gravy. Now I'm starving.

Kristopher and Crew said...

Great story so far! No picture of you holding a fish though....

randymeiss said...

It's coming, I had to split out the fishing over a couple days so I only included half our group this time. I've come to the conclusion I think with my stomach. I sure seem to put in a lot of detail about the food.

AZJim said...

Food was an important part. Camaraderie, Fun, and Eats were probably the main points for me, especially the camaraderie. The time that was spent sharing between family members was priceless. I know my wife would have looked at our meals and said that we weren’t eating healthy. But how often do guys get to cook and eat what they want and when they want. Besides that, I grew up on this type of cooking and lived through it.