Dream Big

The older I get the more inclined I am to do a lot of day-dreaming during the winter months. You might also find me asleep in the recliner at 3 in the afternoon, too. When retired, you can do both and it's considered normal behavior for an old outdoorsman. Winter is also a good time to catch up on some reading. I try to keep a list of books during the year that sound like they might be in my wheel-house of interest come winter. I'm now in the middle of Two Leggings, the making of a Crow Warrior by Peter Nabokov and Will Rogers, a political life by Richard White, Jr. is next on my list. I'll likely have a book in my lap while taking that afternoon nap "day-dreaming". I love to dream of fishing trips and float streams yet to to be explored. At my age, I'm fully aware of the fact that I'm on the downhill slope for more outdoor adventures. Yet, I can still dream about them as of old. Each new trip that I get to enjoy whether a fish is caught or a mallard is shot or not, rewards me none-the-less. I well remember, as a ten year old, how exciting it was to stalk our old farm with my brand new BB gun pulled from behind the cedar tree on Christmas eve. Anticipation on that scale is to be repeated often, even if 55 more years have been added to the ledger. A couple of big dreams came true in 2012. In June, I spent a week in the boundary waters of northern Minnesota. We were so close to Canada I could have paddled a canoe for ten minutes and been at a wilderness cabin flying a Canadian flag. Old friends invited me along. These guys go way back and there is always much to share and stories to tell when we are able to escape to the wilds to fish and "rough it". We camped on an island for a week and caught big Smallmouth and Northern Pike every day. I used to dream of taking trips like that as a young man and here I am, late in life, making dreams come true. Lord willin', the whole bunch of us will be back in the "Land of the Lakes" this coming June. This year we intend to rent a party barge for the week and fish from canoes in Minnesota's Voyageurs National Park of the Boundary Waters. It will cost a bit more; but, we won't be swatting flies around a camp fire or pitching a tent for shelter, either. Last September, last, a good friend called and asked if I had time to spend a week at his cabin on Canada's Rainey Lake. This cabin, with all the conveniences of any cabin a hundred miles from the nearest road, is located on the banks of the Little Canoe River in the northern reaches of the Canadian Rainey lake. What do you say to a request like that? It was another dream come true, so, I made the time! How often in the past fifty years had I wandered-in-thought about spending a week fishing from a cabin in Canada? This cabin is privately owned and the guys that invited me along go there several times each year from May through October. Rainey Lake is big water by any standard; but, their cabin is located in a remote cove that is more frequented by black bear and moose then by human. We brought in our own food, slept in cabin comfort and caught Smallmouth, Northern Pike and even a few Lake Trout while doing so in complete solitude. We did see a handful of other folks out; but, not another fisherman was in our area the entire week. We portaged a couple of days to smaller lakes and certainly worked hard doing it. However, the memories and the photos taken mean more then I can express. I'm dreaming this winter that I'll be invited back next September. Even if I do not catch a fish, just seeing the Fall colors, Canadian wilderness and new water is reward enough. Making the trip with great friends, catching big fish and telling tall tales around the cabin fire at night is truly icing-on-the-cake. Big dreams are like that, allusive, tantalizing, wishful; yet always just-out-of-reach in appearance. In late August, a client of mine from near Kansas City came down for a guided float trip. This guy gets a week off a year and he makes the choice to spend a part of his vacation on a float trip with me. I try to take that honor to heart! A few years back and on a remote stretch of Ozark water he caught and landed a 19 inch Smallmouth. At the time, he had never dreamed of catching one that size! We met for our float trip this year on a local stream. I knew there would be good fish to catch and told him so. Over a gravel bar lunch he told me, "I've decided to have a replica mount made of that 19 incher". I had taken several photos and that's all you need to get the job done for a good fish mount in today's world. I told him that I was honored to have been there when the fish was landed and that he had enough "documentation" to get the job done. Late in the day on our float trip we were nearing the end of our float trip on the James Fork of the White River. Fish were active and he was catching Kentucky Bass and Largemouth regularly. Then, at the lower end of a hole of water in a location that promised little, he gets a huge blow-up on a topwater bait! After several runs under the canoe and a couple of big jumps, Seth finally lands a Smallmouth of a lifetime. I took photographs, tape measurement and determined that his river Smallmouth was actually over 21 inches in length. Indeed, a fish of a lifetime! Not many can claim a river Smallmouth of this size.