Sunday, June 29, 2014

Paddling for Pickerel

I love to fish but very seldom do I compete when fishing.  I wanted to stress this before you read this entry.  My success at the derby described below, or maybe I should say lack of success demonstrates my lack of competitive fishing skills.  I don't use a fish finder, I don't have a trolling motor, and I only have one bait casting rod.  However,  I think as an avid outdoors man I need to support my local Fish and Game Association.  This derby provided me an opportunity to expose my son to lake fishing and support the Fish and Game Association. 

As the sun was coming up I was behind the shed with a shovel.  Don't worry I wasn't burying any secrets, I was digging worms.  I had already loaded the canoe on the truck and a lunch was chilling in the cooler.  It took some prodding but my son got up and was excited to head out for the first time to do some lake fishing.  A fishing trip is one way to get him going.

The Sussex Fish and Game Association (SFG) were hosting their annual "Cassidy Lake Fishing Derby" and we were heading there in hopes of catching the longest fish.  We'd be happy just to catch a fish to be honest.  Cassidy Lake is a big lake and we'd be paddling a canoe and luckily I had my father to help with some of the paddling.  At least with the canoe I wouldn't have to spend a great deal of time unloading it.

Maybe one of the best things about this derby is the breakfast the SFG put on.  As we ate we looked out over the lake, the water glistened and a number of boats were already trying their luck.  It was a full breakfast with pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, and hash browns.  We gobbled it down like we hadn't eaten in days but it was just that good and we were just that anxious to get on the water. 

As we pushed the canoe out into the lake my son got a slight look of fear on his face but it was quickly erased by his sense of adventure.  I love how a canoe quietly glides through water and how you can quickly put distance between you and the shoreline.  I steered us to a nearby point as the others prepped their poles for the first casts.  As I set us up to glide across an area where I thought there might be some pickerel the others already had their lines in the water.

On my first cast I literally hooked a fish.  It was a small pickerel which I failed to land.  Shortly after that my father managed to land another 15" pickerel which we decided likely wasn't going to win the tournament so we let him go.  I thought foolishly that with such a start we might be in for a great day.  We landed one other small pickerel and paddled a great deal of the lake for about 3 hours and caught nothing close to what the eventual winner, Joe Miller, caught.  I think he landed a 24" fish.

We fished right up until registration time and when we pulled the boat to shore, my son took off to see the fish that were registered.  Before I got to the crowd he came running to me holding a fishing pole he had just won in a ticket draw.  He was super excited and the smile on his face made all the paddling aches I was feeling disappear.  I think every kid that took part won a prize and how do you top such an event.

My name was drawn too for a prize and I walked away with a nice kayak.  I didn't even have to catch a fish to win it.  I want to thank the SFG and the organizers of this event.  Often times those who put events on like this are under appreciated so I want to give a big thanks for the time and effort those folks put in to that event.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Proud Moments

This entry was a great one to write.  It was close to my heart on some many levels.  Just before I wrote it we had received some great news about a family member who is battling cancer.  Being proud of an older family member is a different pride.  It is a greater level of new found respect and a joy of having them in your life.  You realize how much of an impact they have had on your life and your family.  My memories of my Aunt are mostly all filled with smiles, laughs, and some mischief.  As I look back on how she impacted me...I am proud to call her my Aunt.  

This was published in the Kings County Record but I really wanted to share it here as well.  I hope you enjoy it. 

I think one of the best things in nature is growth and when you can watch it happening in front of you, that is amazing.  Being able to watch a garden grow is a cool thing; knowing that you planted that garden and tended to it, is even cooler.  When you sit down to eat the vegetables planted from that garden, you feel proud.  Nurturing your family and seeing it grow is similar.

I had a great evening recently.  The sun was shining and the temperature was perfect for being outside.  Usually that is enough to make me happy but on this night I was fishing with my son, so happy was only half of it.   As we walked along the river the sun shimmered off the water and as I watched him walk, I noticed an ease in his stride.  He talked with a maturity and confidence that I hadn't really noticed before.  When he saw a woodpecker he took time to watch it and I could now see a shimmer of excitement in his eyes.  When he got his line caught he didn't turn to me and ask me to get it, instead he unhooked it himself.  My happiness was overcome by pride.

On another outing I watched as my daughter entertained herself on a gravel bar.  She had already hiked a long ways along a river with me, and as the overly independent one in our household she never once wanted help climbing over limbs and rocks, even when offered.  She kept right up with the older boys and never once complained and when they all joined her she showed them all how to make rock paint and then proceeded to paint her face.  As I watched her growing right in front of me I was proud.

My kids and nephews were sitting on a truck bed removing wet sneakers and socks after an outing.  They were laughing at each other, making faces of disgust over whose socks were worse, and nudging one another the way kids do.  They were all bonding and creating memories and as I watched I felt blessed.  As I watched I was proud of the family we have all become.

Being outdoors and sharing moments like these with my kids is an amazing experience.  Lately I have really noticed them growing and maturing and I've also seen things in myself that I never thought I would.  I hover and worry a bit more about them than I thought I would.  When they are growing, I find myself wanting to slow them down, or even stop them.  I am finding myself wanting to hold them back and keep them from getting hurt.  Every now and then it is good to let them push their boundaries but I'm having a hard time letting them do that.  I tell myself, "Its ok.  They can look after themselves there.  They might get hurt a little but they'll learn their own boundaries and heal.  Through that healing, they will grow."  It hasn't been easy and there are weeds to pick from their lives every now and then, but unlike the vegetables, your kids reward you through every stage of growth.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Paddle It In....Paddle It Out

Note:  Littering is one of my pet peeves and when that litter makes its way to our waterways it really irks me.  Most litter, in today's society, doesn't just go away.  We hardly use plain paper bags anymore or standard cardboard, things aren't wrapped in cloth or bound by old fashioned twine.  Instead we wrap things in multiple layers of plastic, with plastic coated cardboard, and tied to the board with plastic ties.  We are a wasteful society and we even waste a great deal of water (I'm even guilty of this one, I admit), so why do we put our waste in our water.  This entry appeared in the local weekly paper, Kings County Record, it was inspired by a drive I took by the Pollet River one day.  The weekend before my drive by there was a "River Run" held there and needless to say...the mess left behind was a complete eye sore, not to mention an ecological mess.  This is my softer take on it....

The water is crystal clear as the front of the canoe moves out into the main channel.  You and your paddling partner are grinning from ear to ear as the current takes its first tug on your floating haven.  The sun is shining bright and warm on the back of your right shoulder as you dip your paddle for that first hard stroke.  Almost instantly the canoe picks up a significant amount of speed and it creates a breeze on your face and causes your hair to blow behind you.  The best part about that breeze is that it keeps the flies away.

The river winds lazily between ribbons of silver maples which keep you shaded when the noon time sun and the rowing heat your body beyond your comfort level.  Some of the maples bare scars, high up their trunks from where ice scoured against them during the spring freshet.  If you were to stand in your canoe, the scars would still be well out of reach and you struggle to comprehend the amount of water that must of flowed through the area during the regular flooding.

Your stomach growls and you are brought briefly back to reality when you remember your lunch cooler sitting in the middle of the canoe.  You scan down river and spot a gravel bar on the inside of a turn less than a hundred meters away.  From the stern position you point the bow toward the gravel bar and instantly your buddy grins approval, without even saying a word, he knows where you're heading.

The gravel bar is warm and relaxing as you lazily chew on your sandwich.  The flies however, have made an appearance, and you become slightly irritated.  You quickly guzzle the soda you had lugged with you and hastily shove the last piece of granola bar into your mouth.  As you leave you drop the soda can into a bush and the granola wrapper blows into the current but since you're irritated you decide to leave them. 

You continue down the river and you start to notice a great deal of litter along the shoreline.  Now you feel a bit guilty about your contribution to the problem.  Plastic grocery bags hang in the shrubs along the shore like prayer flags, while pop bottles sit like old small ship wrecks on the bottom of the river.  You notice oil jugs sitting amongst some chokecherry bushes and feel ashamed.  Thankfully, a big, bright tailed, bald eagle flies over head and you once again start to note the amazing gifts mother nature offers.

There are many lakes and rivers in New Brunswick and many people take the time to enjoy them.  Unfortunately many people also take time to litter and blemish Mother Nature's beauty.  If you are out enjoying the rivers this summer be sure to take out the trash you might bring in.  Those little cuts add up and it can have an impact on how others perceive our great province and its waterways.  If you have time maybe you can even pick up some of the litter you see.  Most rivers flow to the ocean not to the water treatment plant, and the ocean is not a toilet that easily flushes.