Thursday, Day 6

 Funny how sometimes the best days are the ones that seem unspectacular at first. Nothing really great happens, nothing really memorable. But still, it may measure up as one of the best days of your life. How would you ever know if you didn’t take the time to give days like that their due consideration?

 Woke up even earlier than usual. Seem to be waking up earlier and earlier each day. It gets light here about 5:00 AM. I think over time my Vegas body clock has begun to surrender to this Midwest sunrise/sunset schedule.

After getting skunked yesterday, we were determined to be a little more business like when it comes to fishing today. Weather be damned, we’re going to catch us some fish.

So we were up and loaded by 6:55 AM. But wait, I’m a little ahead of myself. On my second of about four trips to the boat I was climbing the stairs from the dock and in the morning mist and darkness, I looked down the walkway toward Walt’s place. I wasn’t sure what I was looking at until it started to lumber towards me…. It was a black bear. A large, very large, black bear. I’ve seen about a half dozen bears up here over the last five or six years and this was clearly the largest. It had a white patch on it’s chest and by the time I realized what I was looking at, it had stopped moving towards me and sort of sat back right on the walkway, just at the bottom of Walt’s deck.

Unfortunately, now my attention was focused on it and where my eyes go, so goes Rush.  So he spotted the bear and I thought, “Oh, shit.”

Rush’s hackles went up, and his back legs extended as his rear-end lowered and he let out a long, serious howl. I don’t know why but Rush appeared to be in no hurry to approach the bear. And the bear was not exactly hurrying off. I called Rush “OUT !!” but naturally, to no avail. I just kept thinking, “This is going to be a messy lesson for this dog.”

Rush started down the walkway towards the bear. Barking, actually more like howling as he inched his way closer. I didn’t want to go after Rush because that meant moving towards the bear. This time of year, I figured there was a chance this was a momma and the cub was nearby. Otherwise why hadn’t she moved off, back into the woods? I was hoping that the instincts of these two creatures would take over and they would somehow work this out. Why can’t we all just get along?

At this point, Rush was still moving slowly closer to the bear howling (not really barking) all the way and the bear was going nowhere. I was pretty sure that I had no clue what I should do. In the back of my mind, I was cursing the weather. If it hadn’t been sprinkling, I would have had the camera with me. But instead it was safely back in the warm dry cabin. Damn rain.

I stood there for about 2 ½ hours (OK more like 12 seconds) and finally said, “You know what? If this dog wants to tangle with a bear, I’m not going to watch.” And I started back toward the cabin to protect the women folk. (I'm brave like that)

I hurried back to the cabin, up the stairs and across the deck. I had no sooner walked in the sliding glass door to tell Betty what was going on, when there, following up the stairs right behind me was Rush. That’s it. Story’s over…..

I don’t know where the bear went. I don’t know why on earth Rush would lose interest that fast. I don’t know if I did the right thing. I don’t know how to handle this next time, except maybe having a dog that listens would be nice. But I do know this…. I now look down that walkway every single time. And another thing, those unexplained rustling sounds in the woods have temporarily taken on increased importance. But I’m sure that will pass.

Over to the Resort to get some gas, ice, bait, and advice. Chatted again with Dave (owner of Blue Eyed Chief) about the lot next to FHL. Got his numbers, and the contact information for Dick Pfister (pronounced Feaster) the owner of that lot next door. Jimbo had run up to Kanora on a mission for Dave to drop off a few motors, and pick up a few others… so Dave was manning the pump at the resort. I told him about the bear, described the white patch on the bear’s chest and he said, “Yeah, I know that bear. His momma was killed years ago, and we pretty much nursed him back to health.” He went on, “Damn, that bear’s gotta’ be pretty good sized by now. It’s been years since he was a cub.”

 I confirmed his assumption about the size of the bear and gladly turned the conversation to fishing.

 Dave indicated that some of his friends hit 5 or 6 nice Walleye over 20 inches just out front of the Resort in that same flat. I was interested in going someplace new, but when someone says, “There’s Walleye right over there.” you can’t help but give it a go.

 So we motored over, all of two minutes away, and started drifting. Crawler with a gold spinner triple harness on Betty’s rig, and a blue/green spinner on a single hook with a crawler for Kj. Dropped our bait in the lake at 7:15. Landed my first fish at 7:25. How’s that for efficient?

 That first one was about 16 inches. Chart says that’s about 2 lbs. Perfect for supper. Then Betty hit one slightly smaller (It was smaller, I swear… no seriously. It was smaller. Look, I measured it. IT WAS SMALLER. Get off my back.)

 Floated around for another two hours. Had several nice hits. One got off right at the boat. It was totally my fault. I was showing off and tried to set the hook with one hand… my bad hand. As I reeled it in, it rose by the boat. It was still out of reach and just threw the hook. I don’t know, looked big to me….But let me be clear here, it was not the fault of the net man.

 Several other misses. For some reason we were not getting the hook set. One problem is that we were fishing in 4 to 8 feet of water. I know that sounds ridiculous but that’s where the fish are right now. By the time you lean back, and raise the rod in the air to set the hook, the fish is already at the surface. There’s no “playing the fish”. You hook it, set it, and net it. That simple. But for some reason we were not executing correctly.

 All this action and the near misses were enough to keep us interested and also kept us from moving. But we were not putting fish in the live well. So we did the only thing we could do, we had hot coffee and brownies. Did I mention that for the first time, we left the cabin without breakfast? I don’t know why. We were just anxious to get on the lake. Plus, the forecast called for light rain all day and we figured that we better get a couple fish in the boat before the weather got worse.

 Fortunately, Betty had judiciously packed plenty of snarfage. Hot coffee in the thermos and moist, homemade brownies actually make for a great breakfast. Especially when you’re standing in a gentle rainfall, and you have a couple of fish in the live-well, and all day ahead of you. At that point, I had already declared this the best day of the whole trip so far. And it was only about ten after 8:00.

 Pretty soon it was Paul Harvey time and with the rain coming down, I didn’t want to take the radio out in the boat. Unlike Hoser’s $.75 garage sale special, this radio is not waterproof. So we motored back to the cabin for some lunch and the noon news.

 Tossed a couple of bags of microwave popcorn in the Microwave and knocked off the rest of the Jackie Chan movie that had been haunting us for three days.

 Then Betty whipped up (from scratch) some nice beef stew. Left over Pork Loin, hamburger, and beef roast, a few red potatoes, a pack of Lipton Beefy Onion soup mix and I’m here to tell ya’, I’d have paid $5 for a bowl of that. But instead I got two bowls, served in this chair, free of charge.

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 Didn’t take long for “full-belly” syndrome to kick in. Next thing you know, there are three sleeping bodies in the cabin, and a nice fire to keep us warm.

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 Betty thought this was especially funny since the time on the clock in the photo confirms that it was not sleep, but rather an unqualified “Nap”. I’m still not sure about that clock. It could be wrong…. I’m not saying any more.

 Rain got heavier and steadier so we decided to give it a chance to clear off. To kill time while we waited for the weather to improve we watched Saving Private Ryan. Can you believe it? Neither of us had seen it before. Two hours and 40 minutes later it’s closing in on supper time. So I cleaned the fish, and we declared an end to the fishing for the day. The rain was light but steady. I think the daytime high today was about 47 degrees. Not bad at all, but just enough to keep us by the warm fire.

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 We’re now ready to consider putting aside a few minutes to plan to get ready to talk about wondering about what to have for supper. But no hurry. It’s only 8:45 PM and still pretty light out.

 The good news is, they predict a very dry day tomorrow. Not warm, but no rain in the forecast. We’ll have to take one last stab at the fish early tomorrow. We’re L…L…..L, L, L,   LEAVING bright and early Saturday so we’ll have to start packing and preparing to L…L…..L, LEAVE Friday afternoon.  We plan on being at the car and loaded by about 5:30 AM. That gets us on the road in a timely fashion. We have lots and lots of miles and several important stops to make Saturday before ending the day at Hoser’s.

 I’m not anxious to think about leaving. I’ve already gone through most of the stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance… but truly the only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that somebody, hopefully one of my friends, or a member of my family, will be back up here soon. This place is too special to sit empty. It’s nice to know that it’s here, but the world is uplifted and all of mankind enriched every time someone wakes up at the cabin.



Next Day....