Less than two weeks ago, shortly after Memorial Day, I lost half of my tomato plants to a late season freeze. We had a couple of mornings when the temps dropped into the 20’s. In June. Frost warnings were out and the plants were covered with Solo cups but I guess that wasn’t enough. Then came the rain that filled the banks of the small rivers and streams but still not enough to raise the lake levels much. The last few days have been beautiful and we’re all about convinced summer is here. It’s sunny, it’s hot, the grass is growing and the birds are singing. Nice.
I don’t know where all the deer where last fall, but this spring they seem to be all over the place. I was wandering around a meadow and came face to face with a doe and wobbly legged fawn. Mama deer jumped off a short ways but the fawn’s defense, unable to outrun anything, was to lay down. I didn’t want to bother them much but I did snap a couple of photos before backing away. In the last week I’ve seen perhaps a dozen newborn fawns in my travels, and the old finlanders in the area are talking about the “spotted fawn meatloaf” their mothers used to make.
Yesterday morning I had to back my boat to the end of the dock on Lake Vermillion to get it off the trailer. Yeah, the water is still pretty low. It was early enough during the week that there wasn’t much traffic at the landing. The only other boat was an outfitter’s pontoon loading canoes and gear to ferry up to the Trout Lake portage. I’m always attracted to canoes, but yesterday I was going the easy way with boat and motor. There wasn’t a hint of a breeze and I used the electric trolling motor to work my way around the rocky islands and fly cast for smallmouth bass. Vermillion has a population of Muskies and northern pike, too, and I was kinda’ hoping for a chance at a big one of those.
I headed to a good looking bay that’s covered with the small rocky bottom that screams bass habitat. There’re a couple of logs laying on the bottom and two docks as well. Vermillion is a popular and populated lake. It’s nowhere to look for solitude, but it’s a fishery known for walleye, musky, and bass. Sometimes you gotta put up with some company. There’s so much structure you’d think the fish would easy to catch, but though I spent the morning casting over mostly rocky cover with divers and streamers, I didn’t really get into them. I had a number of strikes from small fish, however, and I did catch my first bass of the year, a couple of medium sized bronzebacks that where laying under one of the docks. In another weedy bay I tossed a big articulated streamer that was hard to cast and frustrating because I couldn’t get near the distance as a bass bug, but I had to try in hopes a big predator fish would take interest. None did. By early afternoon the lake was busy with boats running back and forth, the fishing was slow and I had a lawn to mow so I heading for the dock.
It’s funny – all winter long I think about all the fishing I’m going to do come spring. I can’t think of anything that would conflict. I’ll catch steelhead with snow still on the ground. Trout in the little streams before the leaves pop out. Walleyes to supply the fish fries. Big trout out west. Giant night-time browns on deerhair mouse patterns. Bass, musky, and northerns all summer. Evenings around a hissing lantern sipping whisky, tying flies, sharpening hooks and cleaning lines. No chores or tasks, of course. No need for working or sleeping. Livin’ the dream with no reason not to. That’s what I think about. All winter.