|Old men and hidden lakes|
|Tuesday, March 20, 2012|
By JOHN L. SLOAN
This is the story of two of us, camped back in the hardwoods of Humphries County in a clearing we created with constant use over a few years. We camped this time for four days, Uncle Lester and me and we had great meals and the best campfires ever. Oh, we caught a lot of fish, too.
Next week we have to start chasing gobblers. For now, let us think about old men camped on hidden lakes. Let us think about just enjoying nature and not worrying about full stringers and such.
This afternoon, we worked hard. It was mid-afternoon before we got the two trucks back to the lake. The camp was in great shape because we worked hard to make it that way. The big tent was up, carpet on the floor, cots and pads level. Tables up and the bigger dining fly secure. We had plenty of firewood and four ice chests full of food and cold beverages. We had drinking water and the spring provided a cold, refreshing bath. The big steaks were thawed and marinating. It was early spring, the redbuds just starting. Hot days and cool nights made for great camping.
With two hours of daylight left, we decided to work on the big bream at the upper end of the lake where late in the afternoon, the fog puddles in the pockets and they bed in the soft, muddy sand. When evening air starts flowing down off the ridges, it creates fog puddles as it hits warm water. Just before sundown, we would try for the bass. They liked to come out from under the moss and hit buzz baits just at dark. The next morning was for crappie. The fishing starts just about owl time-4:15. The light breeze lay and it was time for the evening shift.
We worked the downed trees in three feet of water with small Roadrunners and tube lures. The fog hides the standing timber back in the pockets. The big bream were hungry and just starting to bed. By sundown, we had a nice stringer of bream, a few crappie and it had begun to cool enough for a shirt. However, it was still warm for this early in the spring. Uncle wears the same long sleeve shirt regardless of the temperature. My jacket was in the bottom of the boat just in case. It was that time of year.
We picked up a bass here and there, missing as many as we caught. That happens pulling a buzz bait over moss. At the mouth of a deep cove, I tossed a plastic worm into the brush and waited. It was not a long wait. I guessed her at three pounds…maybe. We were about out of light and the day was almost over. Supper time.
This was a meat trip. That means everything over three-quarters of a pound and less than two and one-half pounds is filleted. Mostly we were fishing for bream and crappie. No, truth is, mostly we were camping. No schedule and plenty of time to just sit and let the mind clear, bathe in wood smoke and spring water and dry off in the sun.
The steaks were perfect, red in the center, crusty on the outside. The air had cooled enough to make a jacket and fire comfortable. After supper, we secured the camp and sat around the fire with our “remember whens” just long enough to make our eyelids weigh six-pounds. The sleeping bags were warm, the foam pads soft and Morpheus was beckoning. We didn’t even hear the resident owls, peepers or whip-poor-wills.
Dawn came with plenty of fog. That is normal on small lakes. The cool air mixes with warm water and creates dense fog. It helps the fishing in clear water. We blow our coffee by starlight and plan the day. We will start with the bass but the bream also like the chartreuse bait. That is okay. When the sun burns away the fog, we will concentrate on the crappie.
It is hot now and the crappie start hitting the 1/16-ounce tube lure. We fill two stringers and decide it is time for breakfast. I am thinking eggs over easy, bream fillets, onion, tomato and a red beer. Then a nap and the afternoon tour. Tomorrow, probably we will do it over. No need to plan that far ahead.
That is how it goes with old men on secluded lakes. This is the perfect time for it. I wish the lake were as it was then. Instead, I guess I will try to ambush a turkey. Good time to be on The Hill, too.