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Memories (Part 1)

September 6, 2012

August 11, 2012

Although the alarm clock is set for 4:30 a.m. I’m awake well in advance and crawl out of bed.  Saturday, August 11, 2012, is a day I’ve been looking forward to for weeks.

It has been years since I last fished Lake Geneva in Alexandria, MN. As a kid I spent many a summer trip with my family either camping at Hillcrest Resort or in a cabin at Butch and Nev’s on Lake Geneva.  Sometimes, if we were camping and the rain was too heavy, we’d pile into the car and try to sleep or head to Perkins for Silver dollar pancakes in the wee hours.  Looking back I’m sure these trips were pure boredom for my mother and sister, but for me, it was pure bliss.  Casting for hours on end there seemed to be an unlimited supply of eager largemouth bass and northern pike willing to smash your bait.  Occasionally we’d target walleyes or crappies, but largemouth bass were target number one.  Buzz Bullets, jointed Rapala minnows, buzz baits, Wiggle Warts, pigs n jigs, they all seemed to work.   Since I’m traveling there for a business reception honoring a co-worker, I thought I’d sneak in a few casts and revisit Lake Geneva.

Hitting the road a few minutes after 5 a.m. I mentally cross off the following items: Bass Raider 8′ johnboat in the back of my F-150, trolling motor, battery, Vexilar, rods, tackle box, rain gear, life jacket, paddle and net.  Suit and tie.  Good to go I continue chugging towards Alex. The weather forecast calls for temperatures in the low 70s, a few clouds and a S/SE wind at 5 mph – perfect.

Whizzing past Rogers in the darkness I find it ironic that I will be out chasing childhood memories, while my mother, who turns 65 today, is struggling with hers.  A victim of breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes at various stages in her life, the cumulative effect has resulted in a terrible mix of dementia/Alzheimer’s disease. Its effects are brutal.  Her independence is gone and she is incapable of carrying on a conversation.  Thank god for my dad’s strength and patience to lovingly care for her.  I miss chatting with her dearly and look back lovingly on all our good memories.  I turn on the radio to break my melancholy and tune into On Being where I find Roseanne Cash describing her relationship with her late father, Johnny Cash, to the host and delving into where and how she finds the inspiration for her songs.

7:20 a.m. – I roll into Alex and attempt to find the access on the SE corner of the lake.  Having only seen this access from the lake it is a bit of adventure.  After only one misguided turn I find the access and rig up my boat.  I chose this access for its proximity to what I remembered as a decent fishing spot and the fact that I will be protected from what wind is forecast.  In a 8′ johnboat, powered only by a trolling motor, I need to plan accordingly.  Besides, the access is steep and rarely used, which also means I will avoid the haughty looks of those with superior fishing vessels.

Fishing from memory I’ve rigged up a jointed minnow pattern Rapala on one rod, a yellow and white buzz bait on another, and a spinner bait on the third.  The shadows are long on the water and I choose the Rapala first.  In years past we’d let it float on the surface for as long as we could stand it or until a fish pounced. Four casts in I’m rewarded with a spunky twelve inch largemouth that struck just as the lure dove below the surface  – just like I remembered.  Unfortunately, the action is slow for the next fifteen minutes and I switch to the buzz bait.  Casting parallel to the weed line in order to maximize its time in the strike zone I catch several more bass and miss three others.  With the sun rising in the sky I try the edge of the deep weeds with a Wiggle Wart and then a spinner bait, all to no avail.  Back to the buzz bait.  One more fish explodes and is landed before I switch to a Senko rigged wacky style and nail a chunky bass on my first cast.  A little before noon I call it a day.  The tally as I leave the access: eleven bass, one northern and more memories.

– Hats

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Benny permalink
    September 11, 2012 9:08 pm

    Pretty amazing that you only go 15 minutes before changing baits. Here on a decent lake in Michigan, you need to work for 30 minutes to an hour.

    • September 13, 2012 2:39 am


      Thanks for reading Hats on the Water. As far as switching baits often, i.e., 15 minutes, that probably wasn’t typical. In this case I was fishing a familiar lake and I knew 6 or 7 baits that had worked in the past, so I switched until I found something that worked or suited the lake structure. On a recent trip to the Bigfork River I threw the same buck tail for about 4 hours as it was catching fish.


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