Fishing can be completely unpredictable

Published 1:43pm Saturday, June 22, 2013

The one thing that is predictable about fishing is that it is pretty much unpredictable. “What does that mean?” you might ask. Well, although there are conveniences available to us that just a few years ago were not even considered a possibility, there is still the unknown part that nature has in store for us. For example the old green box has long since given way to underwater cameras and fish finders with GPS capabilities to take most of the guess work out of the sport. Call me old fashioned — you’d be right — but I still like the element of surprise that fishing has always brought to the table of my life.

I know I have trolled across countless miles of water that was holding no fish, but in my mind that big one was about to strike at any moment. To me that uncertainty is the best part of the game, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do own a fish finder of sorts, namely an inexpensive one that will tell me the depth and does show if there are fish in the area, but I’ve covered too much water with fish showing on it but not on my hook to not put all my faith in electronics. I do like to know the depth and where the weed lines are but that is where I draw the line.

I’d have to say that I am a shoreline type of guy, and most of the northern lakes that I fish are very clear and can pretty much be fished without a locator just by keeping an eye on the weed line. You can use all the technology you want, but you still need to spot a deadhead with the naked eye. I like to think that I am fairly adept at finding the fish in my own old school style of fishing. I have always said that no matter how good a fisherman is, there is still a good amount of luck involved.

Over the years I have seen and heard about some pretty humorous escapades that fishermen have had. I myself have had more than my share of “oops” events when it comes to fishing. One time in particular comes to mind when I was fishing alone on Spider Lake, and I decided to do some casting for musky. Now, when you are camping with the family and only have a small boat, the opportunity for throwing some big stuff for that toothed one is pretty rare. One particular afternoon the kids and my wife decided to stay in, so I headed out in search of the big one that I knew was waiting just around the next point. After many casts short of the 10,000 minimum that some persistent fisherman had set, I was getting a little arm weary, and as I went to make a cast with a lure about the size of a small dog, I hooked one of my other poles. As I lunged forward that pole went flying past my head and into the water. Luckily that lure had more than enough hooks to secure the rod that I now had dangling over the side of the boat. Once I had my other pole securely back in the boat I did what any good fisherman would do – I looked around to see if anyone had witnessed my smoothness. As far as I know, I had no witnesses to that debacle.

Another instance came on the same lake as I fished alone early in the morning. I was using a Rapala and had hooked a northern, but while I attempted to bring it into the boat, it spit the hook. I could accept that part of it, but when the hook embedded itself in the inside part of my hand between thumb and forefinger, I knew I had a predicament. The lure had small treble hooks and one of the barbs went all the way through, but was too small to clip off. After many attempts at different hook removing techniques folks had told me were sure-fire, I did the only thing I could think of: push down and rip ’er out with the needle nose. Once again there were no witnesses.

One year on the way north I ran over a semi tire that had blown out, and the wire inside of it wrapped around my trailer axle and stopped my tire from turning. It happened in a construction zone and by the time I could stop the tire was gone, the rim was tiny, flat on one side and the hub was ground down to nothing. What a way to start a vacation.

I know folks that have lost their trailers, but the one time that sticks out in my mind is when my grandson Trevor and I were at a northern lake not far from our cabin which has a very long and steep landing. As I went to put the boat in, Trevor asked if the plug was in. I was sure that I had put it in, but that question always seems to put that little element of doubt in my mind that makes me want to check. As I went to pull the boat ahead so that I could check it, I was unaware that he had already unhooked it. After hearing a loud, sickening thud, I looked back to see the boat sitting on the cement landing. Luckily the motor was up and the look on Trevor’s face was priceless as he muttered “what do we do now?” To which I said, as nonchalantly as possible under the circumstances, that we would just crank it back up. I had no idea if that would actually work, but it did. After a little minor patching, the boat has been as good as ever.

Yes, fishing can be a lot of work at times and after a few of these stories you could ask, “What is so relaxing about that?” They say you need to take the good with the bad, and believe me when I say that to me it’s all good. There is nothing more exhilarating than cruising down the lake in the early morning with a cool, misty breeze splashing your face like a bottle of lake-scented aftershave with a vision of that next big fish dancing in my head.

Until next time, get out and enjoy some fishing on one of our many lakes and streams of the area.

Please remember our service men and women who serve our country so that we may enjoy the many freedoms that we have today.

Dick Herfindahl’s column appears in the Tribune each Sunday.