Many moons ago, I made a commitment to never go fishing at midnight again. Oh, yeah. I know all about the die hards who drop their their lines at the stroke of midnight on opening night, or day, or whatever the correct definition is. Their line of thinking is to get first crack at naive fish that haven’t seen a real lure since last fall.
Now all that sounds fine and dandy, but I have never done well fishing during the grave yard shift. I guess I’ve caught a few fish, but never enough to make up for the hopelessly tangled lines, chilly temperatures, and debilitating hazards associated with nocturnal angling.
I recall one lusty fellow who insisted I go out with him for the opener. “Those big walleyes are like werewolves. They only turn on after the sun has gone down, and no night is as good as the first night of the year. Just meet me at midnight, Howard, and I’ll show you a thing or two.” I would like to think it was an invitation, but it wasn’t. It had the ring of a challenge, a dare I couldn’t back out from. “You got it, Wally. I’ll meet you down at Headstone Landing at 11:30″ I replied.
I wanted to portray my enthusiasm (of which I had none) so I showed up early. But Wally was already there, along with another guy I didn’t know. Actually I still don’t know the man because I never saw his face, it was dark. All I know is that he answered to the name of Leo.
Quickly I jumped in the boat with my gear and away we went. Wally and Leo were brave like Columbus, I was with the crew headed for the edge of the world.
The darkness was thick and penetrating out on the water. No one made a sound, except Wally who made a grunting sound as he rowed. Across Headstone Bay we went and stopped where a rock point jutted out into the lake.
“Now we need a little light” Wally stated. From his end of the boat I heard a rustling noise and the squeak of lantern being prepared. I was just ready to say what a good idea that was when I heard a crash and a curse. “Anybody with a match on his body must leave the boat immediately. There is kerosene all over the boat.” Wally moaned.
“Forget it, let’s just fish.” Leo muttered.
“Yeah, well you’re on my tackle box.” Wally retorted.
“It was that or sit on your lunch up by Jeff!”
I suddenly realized it hadn’t been a soft boat cushion I was sitting on.
“You always screw things up, Leo!” Wally yelled. And away the two cohorts went. For several minutes they fumed about borrowed tackle that had not been returned, who’s mother was ugly and who’s wasn’t, and on and on. During all this I decided to toss out a jig and lay low. I was just ready to vote for an aborted trip when a big fish nailed my jig. Like a wild horse it stripped off line and doubled my rod. Wally and Leo immediately ceased arguing and started yelling encouragement.
By the thumping and head shaking I could tell this was no small fish. After the initial frenzy the fish stayed deep. Around the boat it swam with me and two enraptured men following, jumping from seat to seat.
“How big is it? Feels good, eh? Where’s the net?” Oops, sorry about your rod, Wally. That’s OK. Your new thermos just went overboard, Leo.” After slugging it out deep for ten minutes the fish surfaced. Somewhere in the dark we could hear it thrashing. Like a madman Wally found the net and somehow got the fish entangled in the mesh. Frantically he heaved it aboard.
The big fish hit the bottom of the boat and freaked out. With it’s great tail it scattered stray lures, over turned tackle boxes, hooks, and smashed sandwiches. But undaunted we leaped on the great fish and pinned it to the floor.
“Do I dare light a match to see this baby?” Leo gasped.
“OK, just be ready to head overboard if that spilled kerosene catches.”
There in the pale yellow glow lay a huge, monstrous, unforgettable, 14 pound…………carp.
That did it. Lost tempers, broken gear, and over all mayhem couldn’t deter us. But that old carp took the wind out of our sails. In silence we rowed to shore. At the landing was another boat that had just come in. One of the men waded out to grab our bow and help us in.
“If you gents did as good as we did, we’ll all celebrate.” he crowed. Quickly he waded over to the dock and lifted a stringer of huge marble-eyed walleyes. “I’ll never miss another opening night again!” he laughed.
“Me either, I thought. Me either.”
Posted by Jeff Howard on May 13, 2011
Comments: 0 Comments