No Worms In This Boat!By Robert Stitt - September 1, 2003
I was the first to arrive Friday afternoon and George and Renee greeted me warmly. As we were standing around talking a little Brian and Nancy (Broz and Punkinseed) pulled in and Nancy jumped out of the car and about squeezed my insides out (Twister, its great to see you!).
I said I didn't think she would have even remembered me after four years and her reply was "See this hat" pointing to her head. "I liked yours so much I had to get one just like it for myself and all the grand kids". That started a great weekend.
Brian wanted to know who I had scheduled in my boat and I told him FN wanted me to take his nephew out for awhile but other than that I was open. Brian had a friend coming with three girls who were kind of shy but he thought they would have a good time with me in the boat.
Other Lake-Linkers began to funnel in and after a supper of hot dogs we (adult Lake-Linkers) sat around the fire and b.s.'ed while the kids had a great time running around and getting acquainted. Meanwhile Brian's friend (Teresa) had arrived with her three daughters and a nephew. I met Theresa that evening and her daughters later the next day.
Saturday morning we were all up early and Teresa and Nancy made a big breakfast of sausage, eggs and toast for all of us.
After breakfast the warden gave a nice talk to all the Lake-Linkers and reviewed some of the regulations that were a little fuzzy in the pamphlet and fisherpeople headed for the waters.
FN's nephew Lee and his Dad, Rick, accompanied me out on the water for the first foray. I am not much of a river fisher so I headed up the Lemonweir to some of the spots I had remembered from my previous visit there. We fished it until about noon or so and Lee caught half a dozen crappies (I think three of them made the 8 inch cut off for registration). The whole time we were fishing there we could hear an eagle screeching and as much as we looked for it we could not see it.
FN called on the walkie-talkie to say his wife and daughter were heading back in and he could take Lee and Rick out with him. I rode up to the camp to see if there were any kids looking for somebody to fish with but everybody was already out so I headed back to the river and fished by myself for awhile. I pulled the boat out about 2 and headed back to camp where Nancy treated me to a snack of sausage and shrimp.
About 4:00 Teresa and her 3 girls and the troll pulled in. They had shore fished all day, Teresa looked like a close relation to a lobster and was whipped. The kids were all disappointed they had not caught a fish and when Nancy volunteered my services to take the kids out and they jumped at the chance. I laid down the rule: "NO LIVE BAIT IN MY BOAT". The kids said that would be no problem with them.
Problem is I only have room for two extra kids in the boat and so the kids went off to decide who could ride along.
So a little after 4 I pushed off from the boat landing with Erica and Ashley and we were headed back up to our little bay. I had nine rods along (4 with 2# test, 2 with 4# test, 2 with 6# test and rigged with spinners and one with 8 pound test for crank baits). All the ultra-lights were rigged with jigs (ranging from 1/80 ounce to 1/16 ounce) with appropriate size plastic baits rigged on them.
Ashley was somewhat familiar with open face reels and with a few casts with one of the spinners was fishing like a pro tossing to brush piles and downed logs in the channel on the way to the little bay. Erica had a few more problems (a couple straight up in the area and one or two behind her) but soon she was getting the bait pretty much where she wanted it.
The girls told me starting out they did not care about winning any prizes but "they just want to catch a fish". We were about half way up the channel when a little walleye came busting out of a brush pile and grabbed one of the girls spinner baits. She got it just about to the boat before it came off the hook.
"RULE # 2. NO MATTER HOW BIG THE FISH, IT HAS TO BE NETTED".
The next cast caught a stump and we were out one spinner bait so I had the girls hold up while I worked the boat through the little channel into the bay.
We got to the bay with the eagle screeching over our heads again and I got the boat turned around so the girls could cast back behind us. I had them change to "Twisters" about a foot under a 3/4 inch cork bobber. First cast and one of the girls had a crappie, I measured and it was a shade short of the 8" minimum. It was not long and one of the girls had a keeper in the live well. Remember Erica, with her straight up casts? What a master she turned into. That little bait and bobber going right in next to snags and logs 65 foot and 70 feet away. And the bobbers going down just about as fast as they hit the water. At five thirty just as we were getting ready to head back down the channel Ashley had another bite. A nice bluegill that would have made the 8" minimum if it was measured through the middle.
We went down the channel as fast as we dared (the girls were singing "No worms in this boat" and "No more worms") and I raced for the van (as fast as you can in your 60s) got the boat on and raced for the weigh in. Just made it under the wire.
After all the oh's and ah's, the girls and I and the troll (Tony) took the fish back to the landing to release them. On the way back the troll was telling me how neat it was to be able to stick his tongue between his teeth. You could never guess how old he was.
About 8 I started to untangle rods and reels. Out of the nine rods the only one in useful condition was the one set up for crank baits and that was because we hadn't used it. Dave and Teresa helped but it was still about an hour and a half before we had everything untangled and retied, this time with no spinners.
Sunday morning we were up early and Ashley and Tony were my passengers to start the day. We got to the boat launched and as I was getting in the boat noticed my life jacket was the only one in the boat. Race back to the camp to get life jackets for the kids.
Ashley decided we should just get up to our bay as quick as we could so I worked us up the channel. Sure enough the eagle was still screeching. One or two casts and Tony had a fish in the boat. Just a hair under the 8 inch minimum. I asked Tony if I should step on it to stretch it out a little further and he didn't like that idea so back over the side.
It was not long until Ashley had a crappie on and she offered the pole to Tony to land it. Talk about being thrilled. I let Tony call his aunt Theresa to tell her but there was no answer on the other end. After that it was getting tougher to catch fish. We had a couple busted lines already and I asked Ashley if she wanted to run the trolling motor while I retied the broken lines. So I tied on a couple more jigs since Ashley was doing such a good job I took a cast. Straight into a tree, you would have thought it was my first day fishing.
Ashley finally got the boat positioned so I could stand on the bow of the boat and just reach the branch over my head. I broke the branch off and as we moved away the bait was still hanging there. So Ashley maneuvered us over again and after about another five minutes I managed to get the rest of the branch and the bait back. (So who is teaching who).
I took a couple more casts and we noticed something feeding under an overhanging tree. Maybe there are some on the outer edge of that tree so I cast to the outer edge. If I had aimed at that foot wide hole between the branches I could have never done it, the bait went right through and ended up right where we saw the fish feeding. Tree # 2 for the Twister. Tony crawled up on the bow of the boat and worked it out just like an expert.
Two more casts and Bob was in the top of another tree. Ashley got us up there and I was on my toes on the bow of the boat again to get it down. Ashley gave me orders then "Twister, you better run the boat". So I was back to my old job.
We picked up a few more crappies and one or two keepers and as it was nearing 11 I was getting kind of whipped. We still had one or two rods that were not completely destroyed and Tony caught a nice fish. The fish ran up behind the motors and Tony was hanging over me with the rod out the back of the boat and I had a nice crappie in the net when Tony says "Bob, don't move, I have a hook in my leg." I look down and sure enough, there is a jig sticking in his pants attached to one of the other rods in the boat. I asked him if it hurt and he said "not right now but it did". If you ever played the game of Twister, you know what I am talking about. Of course, Ashley was sitting in the front of the boat and when she got done laughing her butt off she got the clippers out and got Tony freed from the rod anyway. I got the crappie measured and into the live well while Tony worked the hook out of his pants. I was getting whipped and the kids said it would be OK if we called it quits for the day.
On the way back Ashley said "Look, I see something way up in the middle tree of those three pine trees. "It looks just like an owl in pajamas". Sure enough, there was an eaglet running back and forth on a branch, still in its white down.
We worked our way back down through the channel and Ashley had a little walleye and it came off the hook as I netted it. It fell right through the net. We decided it would not have been legal.
This time I walked up to get the van and the trailer. When I got out of the car Ashley and Tony already had the boat pulled up onto the trailer as far as they could get it and it was just a matter of hooking on the winch to tow it the rest of the way. What neat kids.
We got back to the weigh in station and Tony had to keep his crappie close by to show everybody. I think it was in and out of that bucket at least 50 times.
At the rewards ceremony Tony won a nice trophy for the biggest crappie caught in the contest. George (the official photographer and owner of the resort) said he thought he caught him about a foot off the ground with the picture. Ashley received a trophy for her biggest bluegill and Erica ended up third place in her age category.
As I was getting ready to leave the all the kids and their moms gave me big hugs and wanted to know if I was planning on coming back next year.
Every youth entered in the contest received a new rod and reel plus numerous other prizes. Even if the kids had not won a thing, I think they would have had a good time.
Many thanks to George and Renee for hosting the event and to all the people who helped in any way. See you next year.