Day 6 (Thursday)
You wake up with a day full of possibilities and sometimes you are heading in an unexpected direction. We are all up early and saying goodbye to Dad and David. The plan is for Frank Walsh to pick us up between 8:00 AM and 9:00 AM at our dock.
Dad and David pull out on time at 8:00 AM and ten minutes later Frank shows up. Snoot, Fred and I have had our stuff packed and on the dock since pretty much last night, so we're ready to jump in Frank's boat and GO !!
We head over to Cyclone to check in to Canada (still don't understand why), and then straight north into Canada. Frank has probably caught fish in so many different places I don't know how he even decided where to start, but he picks a spot about 5 minutes away and we get started.
When you arrive at a fishing spot (talking about Muskie now) it begins to take on the atmosphere of a SWAT team. The minute Frank pulls the power back the boat slows and we all jump into action. You glance at the depth finder to see if you want a shallow runner, a deep runner, a bucktail, or a topwater lure. Then you get that tied on and start casting.
Believe it or not, we were able to fish four guys out of one boat pretty well all day. No tangles, no hooks in anybody's head, no problems.
So you cast out, usually toward shore, and start looking for that unmistakable tug on the line. With fish like Northern or Muskie, it's not so much a tug but rather..... imagine that there's a passing car, and your lure gets snagged on it. It's more like that.
The first two spots are windy points near the Canadian/US border. The third spot is a vicious foamy rock point out in the gusting winds. Boat control is key when you're fishing a spot like this and Frank is the master. A few moments of inattention and your boat is in pieces on the rocks.
We continue going from spot to spot and as unbelievable as this sounds, pretty soon it's NOON and we've seen nothing. Not even a near miss. But the weather's nice, cloudy and cool, light winds. Not a bad place to be, fish or no fish.
Things start to change about 2:00 PM. Weather-wise that is. The sky starts getting dark on three sides and it's not too long before we can hear far-off thunder. Without saying much we all dig out our rain gear one by one and quietly slip it on. About twenty minutes later, the lightening is too close, not even a mile away, so Frank elects to pull into a nice sheltered sandy beach and sit out the storm. Could not have timed it better.
We no sooner tied up the boat, walked up to a rock point to look out over the lake, than you could see the wall of rain moving toward us across the lake. It was surprisingly visible. You could see the raindrops on water moving like a line across the lake. This sheet of rain was moving pretty quickly and hit us and our little island respite about 30 seconds later.
The rain came down heavy but visibility remained good. Even during the heaviest downpour you could still see small islands one and a half miles away. Then, behind the rain came the lightening. Without question, this is the closest I've ever been to lightening strikes. When you're a kid, they teach you to count the seconds between the flash and the crack. You're told that three seconds means the lightening was about three miles away roughly. Have you ever been so close that the crack PRECEDED the flash? That was pretty much what this was. The flash was much brighter than you would expect for being the middle of the afternoon. But the CRACK. Damn. That was something else. So loud and so sharp that you could feel it in your chest. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I don't know if it was from fright or from the electricity but either way. We had a front row seat to a spectacular show. None like it anywhere. Really something.
The rain lasts a little longer than even Frank expected so some of the weaker men among us took the opportunity to grab a few winks. I'm still amazed that people can sleep in the middle of the day much less in the middle of an early fall storm on Lake of the Woods.
About 30 minutes later, we're back in the boat and trying to outrun the scattered showers that are hanging around. Frank heads toward a spot toward the west and south thinking that if we get caught again, we might as well be closer to home.
We hit a few more spots and really fish until almost dark. We were on the water for 11 hours and had an absolute blast. We fished every lure in our box. Talked about Musky for hours and enjoyed (more than usual) some peanuts, Pringles, and Garlic Venison sausage. But no fish.
That sounds a little disappointing but funny thing, it's not. Part of why fishing is so popular and so rewarding is that you never know. You never know if you're going to catch fish. You never know if you're going to get swept up in a violent storm. You never know if you're just going to motor around a beautiful lake and look at Bald Eagles, a couple hundred ducks, a beautiful storming sky, and a couple buddies. If you catch fish, that's just the part you talk about around the fire that night. If you don't catch fish, all the other is just as good. Every bit as good.
When Frank dropped us off, he was a little disgusted. He vowed to get us back out tomorrow about lunch time and "Exact some revenge" as he put it. So we're in for the night.
It's only 7:30 PM and raining pretty hard. Too wet out for a campfire but it's never too wet to fire up the Franklin Stove in the living room. Snoot gets that going I pop three bags of Microwave Popcorn and Fred picks out a movie. What a day. Lots of wet clothes to dry out and no hurry. We'll just let them hang and kill the rest of the day alternating our attention from the TV screen to the show outside. For me, it's about 50-50.
Goodnight friends. See you here tomorrow.