Fishing for a Sunset
At the risk of being a cliché of a retired person, I have taken up fishing. In the process of moving, I came across my old tackle box, which my grandfather gave me in 1968. I was not considering becoming an angler, though we now live on a lake, but my attitude changed after seeing the tackle box, lovingly painted and signed by my grandfather with this inscription: “Jimmy Skibo, from P. Kania, May 1968.”
I knew that I had to take up the sport again. Memories flooded back of fishing with my grandfather and his brother, my great Uncle Albert. My grandfather would fuss with the old motor for most of the time, and my uncle would pull in walleyes. Following my uncle’s suggestions, I too would catch the occasional walleye, which is a large fish to land especially for an eight-year-old boy. No one was happier than my grandfather was when I caught one, causing him to pause the motor-fussing and help me land the fish. At about midday, we would pull out lunch, prepared by my grandmother. Bologna, cheese and mustard sandwiches and hot coffee. A few sips of the bitter brew made my head spin.
Fishing with my grandfather really was not only about catching fish, nor is it now. I know that this is not a new revelation, but it is still worth noting. I have now taken to going out with my kayak and pole about an hour before sunset. I actually was not even that interested in catching fish, which is not that hard in White Lake. People seem to get their limit of pan fish without too much effort. There is also largemouth bass, walleye and northern pike in the lake, so I got some larger lures for these fish so that I could avoid catching the rock bass, bluegill, and perch. The goal was really to just catch a sunset. The result was I really did not catch any fish at first, but the sunsets were memorable.
Anglers like to talk, and when I would see them they would ask if I caught anything, I told them I was “fishing for a sunset,” which got a laugh but did not answer their question. I then had to fess up and tell them I was going for bass—“the big ones.” When they would tell me of their great bass-catching success or lift up three huge bass from their boat, I felt that my credibility was at stake. They also seemed concerned about my futility. “What are you using?” they would often ask. When I told them, they offered lure advice. “I’d try a popper and fish the lily pads on the west end.”
During one of my frequent trip to Fleet Farm I wondered into the fishing section. Here I found five solid rows of lures. I saw some lure-friends from my youth, basic Rapalas, but the rest of it seemed overwhelming. There is a bass section so I bought a few bass lures including the “popper,” offered as the best lure by an anonymous angler.
I pushed out in my kayak, about an hour before sunset, with my new lures including the popper. I paddled over to the west side. The loon family squawked nearby and the blue herons were finding a place near the shore to spend the night as I casted my popper to the edge of the lily pads. After a few casts a bass hit the bait and bent my light action rod right to the surface of the water. As my kayak spun around, I hauled in a largemouth bass. I was shocked.
I tossed it back, but not before thanking it for the excitement. Almost every night since I have been going out and now always catching a few fish. Although I am still most interested in catching a good sunset, I now have the angler cred to say that I have caught a couple big ones.