The Labor Day weekend was semi-relaxing. I spent half the time relaxing and half the time just sitting there.
I did haul the wife out of the house to take a ride Saturday — an expensive pastime with gas at the $4 mark. I do hope Cheryl appreciates the high-falutin’ time we had.
Some of the cost was offset by efficiency, though. I recently purchased a vehicle that gets pretty good gas mileage — a vehicle eloquently described as an SUV. But I know a station wagon when I see one. I’ll take the ego-blow for the savings at the pump, I guess.
Ah, for my youth and the old full-sized trucks I drove that burned gas at a rate of 5-12 mpg. Good times. Those days, we didn’t need money to have fun. Good thing, too.
Our expectation for Saturday of Labor Day weekend was that many would be out and about on our beautiful Northwoods waters. Such was the case.
Pontoon boats paraded the channels, and landings were packed with vehicle/trailer rigs. Temps reached the 80s and the weather overall was uncommonly cooperative.
We decided not to launch a boat ourselves, but instead just to roam and sight-see. We had the foresight to pack a few fishing poles just in case.
Eventually, we did take some casts near a boat landing on a lake that remains low, allowing one to roam the shore with relative ease.
Many eager smallmouths nearly as big as your average goldfish attacked our offerings.
Cheryl did manage to catch a few nice bluegills, but her fish-filleter decided that it was a holiday weekend and, hence, no fish would be cleaned within its confines. So the ‘gills lived to fight another day.
Cheryl did stake claim to a victory of minor sorts. She landed more fish than I. Of course, since it was a holiday weekend, one can consider it only as an exhibition match. Who takes these things seriously on a holiday?
Plus, since when is it a competition (insert snort of derision here)? We are a team when we fish.
Besides, I usually win handily. Often, anyway. Much of the time.
Cheryl had the nerve to blame me for being absent while she was battling a large fish that eventually broke her line. As if my presence would have made the 8-pound test line on her reel stronger. I just re-spooled that reel in 2004 — I’ve done my part.
I was available the whole time, anyway, despite her claim otherwise.
“You were at the [station wagon] getting a beer,” she said. “I was calling for you and you didn’t answer.”
I did tie a new hook to Cheryl’s broken line and she was back at it soon enough, in addition to being able to fish again.
“That big fish won’t bite again, he’s got a hook in his mouth,” she said sadly.
“Lotsa big fish here,” I said. “If it’s a smallmouth he might bite again anyway.”
I reminded her of one she had hooked years ago that broke her line. Minutes later, I caught the fish — with Cheryl’s lure firmly planted in its upper jaw.
A pontoon boat full of seemingly happy folks landed as we fished. Noting holders with several rods, I questioned them about their fishing success. As fishermen are wont to be, they were somewhat vague. But a familiar face was on board. A family friend, Heather.
Heather brought her 16-month-old boy over to meet us. He grabbed rocks and made mighty throws into the water, and even flexed his muscles a bit. Endearingly cute he was, and Cheryl was instantly in love with him.
His presence, and that of a couple of other youngsters, was the highlight of Cheryl’s night, I’m sure. Except, perhaps, getting to scold me for her broken line.
A few muskie anglers were on the water and one, Bob Heideman of Kewauskum, revealed that he had landed a 41-incher.
Heideman was staying in Lake Tomahawk and was out fishing with his dog Tanner.
Plum crazy and other stuff
Cheryl is always in gathering mode, seeking wild edibles that can be picked. Berry season has come and gone, but Cheryl convinced her son Dan and his girlfriend Andrea to set out in search of wild plums Sunday. I was busy relaxing or just sitting there, so I got out of it. I mean I couldn’t go because I was busy.
They collected a few plums from a wild patch near a small lake on state forest land near Lake Tomahawk. Another patch near Rhinelander proved fruitless.
The plums are pretty good. Besides offering a late-season chance for the depressed berry-picker to harvest wild fruit, they are useful. Cheryl uses the sweet, red-orange plums to make jelly.
A good find, especially since the apples are finished on our tree. The pies the tree provided this year are long since eaten.
It was an off year, but I’ve got my trail-cam set there because deer are still visiting in hopes of finding the final remnants — or simply out of force of habit.
A 7-point, velvet-clad buck visited the tree at 9 a.m. one morning this past week. So far, he is the biggest deer I’ve caught on the camera this year.
The bears, usually fairly a nuisance during spring and summer, have largely left us alone. One bird feeder was destroyed this spring, but our trash can has yet to be violated and the apple tree vicinity shows no bear sign.
Usually, a few rudimentary bear calling-cards are evident there, and our black Lab, Griz, usually spots a few.
Griz, who as a young dog once got nervous when a spike buck he was barking at took a step in his direction, has since turned fearless of everything except thunder and wet grass (I don’t know why) and would readily pursue invading bears if allowed. As long as the grass was dry.
Cheryl once endured being dragged behind, clinging to a leash, as Griz took after a bear that had the nerve to dine on apples in his front yard. Eventually Griz tired of pulling her and stopped. Thankfully.
Really, I think I should be thankful for Jeff Foxworthy and his efforts to legitimize rednecks, and also society’s tenuous, but real, acceptance of them.
It has allowed us to be much more open about the things that take place here. I’m sure many of you understand.
“If your dog has ever dragged you while chasing a bear out of your front yard ...”
Well, you know the rest.
Craig Turk may be reached at email@example.com.