Friday, September 26, 2008


Each time they checked the bait traps, the more certain they became, that they were going to have to fall back on plan B. Plan B was a fun way to catch bait fish, but it was very time consuming and they may not get enough bait fish for a full cast of the jugs in the evening. They had plans to cast half of what the regulations allowed for four licensed fishermen. The plan was to cast forty fishing jugs set to the depth of thermocline, with one hook on each jug. Although they had placed more hooks on each jug in the past, they felt that it was more trouble than it was worth.Plan B consisted of catching the very small bait fish on a short microlite spinning reel and rod, set up with a tiny number twelve hook and a tiny weighted bobber. The hook was baited with the smallest pinch of worm that they could get to stay on the hook. It was fun, lots of fun, to catch the bait fish that way. The small rod and reel would squeal as the tiny fish stripped out line and the pole bent nearly double. Fun, but very time consuming.The survival rate was not as good for the line caught bait fish either. When they trapped the bait fish, they were often in such good condition that they would be released after a night of unsuccessful fishing on a jug line. Several times they had trapped a bait fish, the next day, that they could tell they had caught before and released after fishing them all night. They always put them back in the lake.Dark and time to cast the jugs would be upon them soon. It wasn’t going well with the bait catch. Somehow they were just not getting the traps in the right place in relationship to the thermocline. They were about to board the boat to go out to line catch as many as they could before time to cast the jugs, when they herd, “Hey !”, from a nearby campsite.It was the older couple they had met out on the lake that morning. As they approached the two couples they asked, ” need some bait fish ?”, “We have a few left over from our last cast. Since we are leaving we won’t cast the jugs again, and we thought you might not have had enough time to catch many.”The answer was, “Boy do we ever ! Our catch has been a bit slow. We might not have enough to make a full cast this evening.”Due to the generosity of the friends that were leaving the campground, they no longer had to worry about having enough bait fish to make a full cast that evening.Soon, it was time to make their first cast of the jugs on this lake trip. The bait fish at the camp had been carefully loaded into the live well and the two couples were traveling down the lake to pick up the bait fish from the trap that they had put out near Cigar Island.The setting sun was getting lower and lower in the West, as they rigged the running lights on the boat. It would be well after dark when they returned to camp later that evening.As they rounded the end of Cigar Island, one of the ladies said, “let’s go by and see if the Eagles are nesting in the same place this year.” At the wheel of the boat, he grinned as he altered course to go near by the nesting site. It was hidden to the eye that had not been fortunate enough to see the eagles come off of the nest when they were fishing. They were there.
As they slowed to look with binoculars and broke out cameras hopeing for a photo, the low, about to set sunlight revealed the two eagles.Magnificent white heads shining in the fadeing sunlight. The male was perched slightly higher in the very large old native pine tree. The female was sitting on the nest of large sticks. The boat was idling quietly as they passed nearby the nesting pair.Everyone aboard “Harm’s Weigh” was awe struck at the sight. Speaking quietly in the still of the evening, they talked excitedly about the eagles, cameras at the ready. Though they were fifty to one hundred yards away the male suddenly folded his wings and swooped down nearby, causing a sharp intake of breath as camera shutters snapped. The boat idled quietly away and the eagle returned to his perch. It happened so quickly that only one photo was in focus with the eagle centered. Photos aside, it was a majestic moment that no one would soon forget.
As the sun dipped below the horizon, they were at the site that they had planned to cast the jugs for the night. They had checked the weather forcast and knew that the prevailing brezes that night would likely hold their jugs in place. On the trip back to camp they chatted animatedly about the days events and in particular the wonderful eagle sighting. Anticipation of the next morning’s catch was already starting to build.

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