Throughout my life there have been things I have forgotten to take along as I headed out to do some fishing or hunting. It seems like each spring going out fishing for the first time is perhaps the time I forget the most things. Maybe it is simply the excitement of getting out on that first trip of the year, and it always seems like you're in a hurry to get there. Maybe it is just being a little forgetful, or being poorly organized or it was actually the kids that forgot those items!
On one family trip to Elephant Lake, we forgot our landing nets and had a couple of nice fish get away that could have been easily netted. I found out the hard way that it is a whole lot easier, and less stressful on your fishing line, to work your fish over the net rather than trying to horse the fish over the side of the boat.
On another occasion it wasn't that we forgot our fuel tank, but instead we just happened to grab the wrong one. This one would not even hook up to our motor, so there we sat. I did not want to drive all the way back home to get the right one, so we used our emergency oars instead. Our two landing nets worked good enough to get us out far enough where we were able to have a good day of fishing. Although we were not able to get out to where we originally wanted to go, we were far enough out to find some pretty good fishing.
Then there was the time we forgot our anchor. Well actually we remembered one anchor, but took two boats that day. Travis and Gene Dube improvised and used an old water-logged piece of a stump for an anchor. It worked good enough to enable them to stay on the outside edge of the hole they were fishing. They no longer had to constantly fight the boat from drifting away or getting too close and scaring the fish away. They were rewarded with a nice mess of fish by using their outdoor skills instead of simply letting the boat drift.
Another item we have forgotten on several occasions is the boat plug. Ever wonder why many people have a small chain fastening theirs to the rear of their boat? A jack knife and a piece of willow can quickly solve this problem, and I've discovered you can use a rock to tap your new boat plug into the hole. I say rock because I am sure you didn't bring a hammer along with your small assortment of tools you also forgot. Speaking of tools; remember that hose clamp that was leaking and there was no screw driver to tighten it so you used a small fishing spoon to tighten it?
Fishing pliers are also a fairly common item left at home, but one's memory gets much better if you forget them a few times when you are fishing for Northern Pike. Having your fingers cut and bleeding by the sharp teeth on these fish are excellent reminders the next time to load up. Besides even if you are not fishing pike, it sure is nice to have pliers on those deeply hooked fish.
Once on a trip to North Dakota I forgot my sleeping bag and we were camping along the Missouri River in temperatures as low as 27! I crawled in the tent and partially covered with an insulated rain coat and an extra tent and survived doing that for a week. Remembering my sleeping bag sure would have made for a much more enjoyable trip than what I ended up using.
Forgetting your lunch or not bringing enough lunch, can be just as bad if you're planning on being out there all day. On several occasions we had enough lunch packed, but then at the last minute we added a couple of extra people and no one added a few more sandwiches. Proven fact; if the fish are not biting or you have cool damp weather your crew will eat a whole lot more food then normal. Ever been in a boat full of cold, hungry kids? I can tell you from experience that it is not a very pleasant ordeal as the day drags on.
Rain gear is another often-times forgotten item, especially if you have had several nice bright warm fishing trips in a row. However getting chased off the lake cold and soaking wet a couple of times in a row greatly refreshes your memory the next time you are heading out. Slipping into your rain gear before you get wet is another thing some of us need to remember too. If you're already wet or cold, before you do this, you might as well head home instead of putting your rain coat on at this point.
I once had a fisherman approach me on the ice because he had forgotten his fishing poles. I don't think I have ever forgotten my poles yet, but then again I am not quite as old as this fellow was. I am not going to mention this guy's name because I do not want to embarrass him or his family. Besides if I do that, his wife might begin to wonder how he was able to bring home fish without even taking his fishing poles. She might even begin to think he wasn't even fishing! Ok ok I will tell you his initials but nothing more, they are Ray Harker! That's right Ray Harker went ice fishing at Skilak Lake and forgot his fishing poles! Call Ray up and wish the old boy well, but be prepared to hear a few jokes or other stories coming back! See you next week!
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