SD0620134 Awesome Angling

Some days a person needs to just take a breath and relax.  One of the best ways I know to do that is to go fishing.  There’s something mesmerizing about sitting on a boat out in the water, half reclined on the padded seat, feet up on the rail, holding onto my rod and reel, gently rocking with the waves, waiting patiently for that ‘ping.. ping!’ feeling of a fish on the end of my line, stealing a bite of my worm.  The quiet.  The warmth…..divine relaxation therapy.  Softly lulling me to sleep.  Drifting off……and then, the sudden “PING” of that one big fish almost pulls the rod from your hands, bending the pole down into the water, twisting and tugging like a tiger caught by the tail—you snap to it quick and sturdy, and do your best to hang on and reel that fish up to the boat after an all-out battle of endurance and strength.

Relaxation combined with exhilaration.  What a fantastic combination. 

That’s not fishing with JimmyK on Lake Oahe.   Omit the relaxation part.

Seeing as we are between groups, we decide to get out and fish for the day.  There is talk of rain, but it’s far to the north of Mobridge. He prepares the boat while I prepare our food and beverages.  I whip up a couple of breakfast bagels to go with our hot coffee.  A quick check around camp, take care of the dogs, and we head out of the property with breakfast in hand.

Today will be an awesome day of fishing.  I can tell.

We stop at the Reservation Bait Shop to gas up and get a few containers of worms.  I remember back when I was just a little girl.  When Dad and I prepared to go fishing, we would go get the shovel and dig deep into the dirt on the side of the house, collecting up dozens of big night crawlers….he always let me help, and mom would get mad when I came into the house all dirty, showing off a worm or two wrapped around my fingers.  Yup, it started with me even back then.

JimmyK comes out of the store balancing a tall stack of small containers and I smile.  We are about to go do some serious fishin’.

We drop the boat in the water while talking to some folks on the other side of the launch.  They are going the opposite way on Oahe.  Good for us!  JimmyK goes where no one else ever does and I love that.  We are floating away from shore and gone in seconds, leaving a wake behind.

He is tak072ing us to one of his favorite hot spots.  The ride will be a good half hour.  Already, the day is getting warm as the sun bursts through the morning clouds.  There is a slight breeze.  I am glad I remembered sunscreen, a hat, and thin layers. We are both glad we brought plenty of water and Gatorade. As we zip across the top of the water I am captured by the complexity of this beautiful land.  Seemingly void of life, yet lush with greenery.  There, on the high bank to our left, are a dozen or so horses. Other than that, there are no visible forms of life except the two of us.

We slow to a halt. JimmyK jumps up and starts organizing our set ups.  Me, I am still half in a trance from the ride, and must appear quite useless to him.  I finally jump up to assist with worms on hooks.  We banter back and forth about who will catch the bigger fish, who will catch the smallest, the most, and who is overall the better angler. We are fishing two poles each, which may cut down on the relaxation part of this adventure. Four lines in the water.  We get situated in our respective Captain’s chairs, JimmyK starts the troll motor, and we wait.

“Ping! Ping!” JimmyK has a fish on. 

“I think it’s a good one” He announces under his breath.  He quickly reels up to discover a Drumfish on the end of the line. 

“Hmmm.  Nice Drumfish ya got there, JimmyK.”084

“Yeah, well you better pull yours up now.” He smirks.

“Ping! Ping-ping!” I, too, have hooked a Drumfish and start reeling fiercely. He barely gets his off the hook, before hooking another, and another, and yet another.  Me too.  We are smack dab in the middle of a Drumfish school, and they are hitting hard.

Since we don’t eat them, this is all about warming up for the ‘good stuff’.  I’ve brought a dozen or so to the boat now.  So has he.  “I’m tired of this catch and release Drumfish action.  Where are the Walleyes?”  We will have to move and find them.

Suddenly I notice something out of the corner of my eye.  This isn’t the first time I’ve seen it, but it is the first time that I’ve seen it getting so close.  A grayish mound, rising up out of the water heading toward the boat, then sinking back into the water and completely disappearing. And there it is again.  And another.  And, another, right out in front of me.  They actually appear confrontational!  What do they want to do—challenge the boat?

“JimmyK!  Those aren’t Skipper Jacks are they?   What are they?” 

“Those are Oahe Carp.  Guess they are starting to spawn.  Wow, that was a big one!” he responds.  The carp are swarming around our boat, getting up close and challenging the vessel. They have to be 20 pounds or more.  Their heads look like big grey boulders rising up out of the water.  A group of them could easily rock the boat if it was their mission.

Maybe it is.  The Drumfish stopped biting.

“JimmyK, this is really creepy.  God, what if we hook one?”  One comes up along the side of the boat, almost touching, then vanishes into the deep water.  We are at about 22 foot deep, and about 100 yards out from shore.  Gray mounds are rising up from the top of the water as far as I can see.  They are surrounding us.  One comes barreling straight for the front of the boat.  What is it planning to do?  Ram us?

“Well, they’re just curious.  But they are definitely scaring away the rest of the fish so let’s try moving.” He says, and starts up the motor.  Off we go, leaving swirls of territorial predators behind.

“Maybe we could put together a bowfishing adventure next year?”  If we could get a couple three, four, pontoons out here?  Hmmmmm….  I think out loud.

“Do you ever stop with the business, girl?” He laughs and shakes his head.

Another short journey farther north up the Oahe and we stop again.  Average depth 16 to 22 feet.  Lines in, troll on, and fish!  The sun is burning down like a hot skillet.  After two passes along the hot spot, we’re getting a few hits, reeling up a couple small walleyes.  Things improve on the third pass—we’ve found the hot spot.  For the next several hours we’re presented with loads of eater walleye, and non-stop action. 

It isn’t until I turn to JimmyK crying out “are we out of bait?” that I realize to what degree we are both baking under the hot sun.  We quickly sunscreen up between reeling in fish, and he locates another container of worms.  The fish are clearly not interested in taking a break.  The only saving grace out on this hot water is a very slight intermittent breeze that flickers about every five minutes or so.  But frankly, we are both soaking wet with sweat. No wonder I don’t have to pee. 

“Ohhh shit…..it’s a good one…” JimmyK says under his breath.  His rod is bending down into the water and he is straining with all his might.  Or so it seems. Playing a fish is an art form. Even the smallest fish can seem to put up the most ferocious fight.  But I don’t think JimmyK is kidding with this one.  I reel in my lines and get the net ready.  He reels and pulls and works that fish up to the boat as it is thrashing, darting and diving with fight, until I am finally able to scoop under it with the net and try to lift it up to the boat.

It is darn wild and heavy!  I thrust the fish filled net into the boat with all my might and we strain to see what is thrashing around entangled in the nylon web.  087

What?  Walleye?  No…Northern?  It’s a Northern Pike! JimmyK grabs the fish out of the net and unhooks it.  Into the live well.  Lines back in.  Moments later another hard bite.  Northern!  I hold my ground and reel the feisty fish into the boat.  We continue back and forth along this hot spot and catch Drumfish, Northern, Catfish, and Walleyes non-stop on into the late afternoon.

Huh, it appears we have no more room for fish in the boat.  And no more bait. Our skin is baked, our liquids and munchies gone, and the sun is going down.

The ride back is a quick sprint across the top of the water like silk on skin.  It’s been a great day of fishing. We get back to shore and he goes to get the truck while I wait with the boat.  In minutes we are ready to drive back to camp and get started cleaning fish and cooking. I head to the toy hauler with two walleye fillets to prep for our fresh fish dinner while JimmyK tends to the rest.

I could get used to this life.  What seems like a vast wasteland of nothing actually has more than enough bounty of everything one needs.  Indeed.  Another day of awesome angling with JimmyK.

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