Early one summer I was enjoying a weekend at the family cabin just north of Lake Of The Woods in northwestern Ontario. My son, who was 9 years old at the time, had decided that despite a stiff breeze and choppy water it was a good day for swimming and had jumped into the water. Being a dutiful dad, I was watching him to ensure his safety. As it turned out, someone should have been watching me. No, perhaps it was better that there wasn’t!
I can’t be near water without starting to twitch and pretty soon there was no denying that voice in my head saying “Come on, you can fish and watch him at the same time!” The boat was tied up at the dock and my fishing rods were baited and laying invitingly in the boat – daring me to ignore them. I could not.
I picked up my spinning rod, flicked a cast into the water, and slowly reeled the lure in. Wham! A good solid strike! I set the hook with a sharp upward movement of the rod – I had him! I quickly reeled in a nice size Walleye and hoisted him out of the water. He had swallowed the hook pretty good so I decided I needed my fishing pliers to disgorge the lure.
I set the rod down on the dock, held the fish in my left hand and used my right hand to rummage about in the boat for my pliers. I found the pliers, removed the lure and threw the lure on the dock in the direction of the fishing rod. I carefully placed the fish in the live well of the boat and then quickly spun around to grab my fishing rod. “If there is one Walleye there usually is several more!” I though gleefully. The fishing rod was gone.
While I had been busy taking care of the fish the wind had picked up considerably and the floating dock was heaving as the waves pitched it about. I determined that the rod had fallen off the dock into about fifteen feet of water. Drat! Hmmm… Hey! “How about if I use my Muskie rod with a large 8 inch spoon on it to drag the bottom of the lake and snag the other rod? Brilliant idea!” thought I.
Soon I had the Muskie rod in hand and cast the heavy lure out over the water, letting it sink to the bottom just past the spot where my spinning rod was most likely resting. I slowly reeled in… “Hey Dad! Look at me! Look at me!” demanded the eager swimmer. I stopped reeling, looked in the direction of my son, and feigning interest said “Pretty good!”. When I tried to resume reeling I found I was snagged on the rocky bottom!
“Oh Great! That lure cost me $20.00!” I muttered. I was whipping the rod around angrily hoping to shake the hook loose when a gust of wind blew my hat from my head and into the water where the wind and waves carried it out reach. What else could go wrong?!
Bing! Another brilliant idea! I set the Muskie rod with the snagged lure down – in the boat, not on the dock as I had learned my lesson after losing the spinning rod. I grabbed my metal snap-chain fish stringer, opened all of the clasps, and attached a 30 foot length of rope to the end. I would drag the lake bottom with the stringer and the 8 open clasps would act like grappling hooks. I was sure to “catch” my rod and reel!
Meanwhile my son, noticing that I was not paying much attention to him, had climbed out of the water to inquire as to why my hat was floating way out in the middle of the lake. “Never mind!” I growled. He watched, quite amused, as I repeatedly attempted to throw the stringer out over the water but the long rope would always tangled in my feet causing the stringer to drop in the water just over the edge of the dock. As I flailed about I told him my tale of woe. “You will have to throw the stringer further than that” he remarked.
“Here, hold the end of this rope while I throw out the stringer” I hissed, thrusting the rope at him. I leaned back and threw that stringer out over the water as hard as I could and watched as it sailed far out over the water – with the end of the rope trailing behind. “Sorry Dad! It slipped”
The only thing I could do now was get in the boat and attempt to retrieve the floating rope and while I was at it – my hat. I enlisted the help of my son and we cast off. The wind seemed to be approaching gale force and instantly spun the boat around. Remember that Muskie rod I had carefully placed in the boat? Snap! The line broke leaving my treasured lure wedged in the rocky bottom of the lake. “Son of a gun! What next?” I groaned.
“This will be quick – get ready to grab everything” I ordered as the wind carried us speeding toward the end of the rope. My son deftly grabbed it and when he tugged on it there was no resistance. He pulled up half the stringer. The other half remained in the lake. Next we sped by my hat and he managed to grab that too. “Here Dad!” He proudly handed me the hat. I placed the soggy cold hat on my head and headed back to the dock.
Back at the dock I prepared to try once again to rescue my fishing equipment by dragging the remaining half of the stringer on the craggy lake bottom. I handed my son the end of the rope once again and impressed upon him the importance of not letting go this time. To my delight after a few attempts I pulled up my spinning rod!
The boy jumped back in the water to resume his swim and I resumed fishing. I managed to catch a nice Smallmouth Bass and all was well once again.
Later that evening I went down to the dock again to take a few casts and caught my prized 8 inch spoon that had been on the Muskie rod earlier in the day. What luck! I had everything back that I had lost.