Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Big 33... Part Two


The best part of getting my daughter involved in the activities I do is that I can adjust the practice to her level. That may mean shortening the time, watching the weather, leaving a little bit later, returning a bit sooner, and throwing in some of the amenities of home. That may result in swimsuit Barbie tagging along for a snowmobile ride, but if that's the arrangement then so be it. I'd go ice fishing with Barney, Elmo, Diego, Dora, and Big Bird if it means introducing my beauties to hunting and fishing. The key I have found is immersion with avenues to transition. Let me explain...

Before we even got to the lake, a pit stop to a local store resulted in a shopping spree of all things important. My daughter leads the way, determines what is essential for survival, and I only offer suggestions. She owns this portion of the day, without her input then fishing can't be fun. In doing so, we aren't necessarily eating well but nutrition isn't my concern here. Creating avenues to enhance the entire spectrum allows for a great connectivity to our time together. On a sidebar, my daughter also took the time at the checkout to inform everybody around us that her daddy was thirty-three today. It may seem questionable, but I believe that this is an early effort to promote leadership. Not bad for a four year old, picking our food and proud to inform the public that we are going ice fishing on daddy's birthday...

We met up with my father-in-law and his good friend, Vaughn, shortly thereafter. After traveling north through the blueberry barrens, we reached the lake and quickly unloaded. Before the guys had even unloaded the snowmobile, we had already hiked out to the island (well I hiked, towed, and sweat) and started drilling a few holes. Before long, the traps were in and the portable ice shack went up without a hitch...

I joked to Vaughn that before my daughter and I were finished tending the traps, we'd have a flag. He laughed, but I held true to my promise as the third trap tended sprang up while we checked the bait on the seventh tip up. The bait was stolen, but trout tend to stay where the food exists and this one would be caught. Three baits later an eight inch brook trout sprang from the hole and my daughter had the first part of her limit...



The men quickly took heed to my advice and checked there traps as well. But before they had anymore luck, another flag sprang up in my daughters line of traps. Here is where I realized another factor in turning on kids to being in the outdoors, maximize the success to minimize the disappointment...

Rather than hastily set the hook, I allowed for a little extra time for the trout to take the bait. These trout have been finicky and experience has taught that patience pays off. Plus it gave me some time to set up the video camera so that I could get this on film. What person doesn't love having a memorable experience caught on tape? I wish that my first deer had been recorded. Anyways, here's the product of our good work...

video

This was the second trout for my daughter which meant by law, her traps had to be pulled out. While doing this, a flag in Vaughn's row produced a brilliant 15 inch brook trout, the biggest I had seen all season. I swear this one alone was larger than the three my daughter and I had scored...



I had been watching the clock and monitoring my daughter's barometer of interest. By noontime, it became apparent that my limit would not be satisfied and my father-in-law had not even seen a flag. After some discussion, it was agreed that our day would end. The wind had picked up and even though we were at the leeward side of the island, the temperature still dropped. Within minutes, we are were packed up and commuted back to the trucks utilizing the snowmobile...



So in 3 hours of fishing, we managed four brook trout at 8, 10, 11, and 15 inches long respectively. In addition, my daughter got to show her papa how it's done and participate in an activity that really does define my father-in-law. I look forward to our next outing, but I need to figure out how to immerse a two-year old into the mix. She's ready to go, but she's going to be some work!!!

Have a great day,

The Downeast Duck Hunter

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Big 33...

I really don't know how to start this article, maybe that today I turned thirty-three years old. That aside, I chose to spend my birthday out on the ice with my oldest daughter, Lauren. However, I did give my father-in-law a call last night to see if he'd be interested in chasing some brook trout. It didn't take long for a confirmation and the plans were set for us to meet by 9:15, then a quick venture to my favorite trout hole. This is the basic story, it goes far more deeper though...



My father-in-law gave me ice fishing, when I got married I became part of his family. With that came some outdoor activities like snowmobiling, canoeing, and most of all: freshwater fishing, both on the open water and over the ice. We went all the time, ventured locally and afar sometimes hitting some of the premier spots in Eastern Maine. He's a man of many talents, but his level of patience with a young, eager, and aspiring fisherman would pay off as now I have realized my successes. But this story goes deeper than this...



My wife and I moved back to my hometown which amounted to an extra one-half hour distance between households. Starting a family also put a major dent on our ice fishing, but that's how it goes. We'd try to find time and made the most of the few hours I could muster. Then in the midst of a hectic life, my father-in-law began a fight with cancer. It's hard to see and fathom how a fight to live takes so much energy, time, and patience, but I've watched a man assert that he is living with cancer and a man who wants to see his grandchildren grow....



Today became very special to watch my daughter run around the tip ups with her Papa. It's a day we all have been patiently waiting for, and for me to be able to photograph the two together meant the world. So to sum up my birthday, I am absolutely appreciative that my father-in-law chose to spend his day with us. Thank you Don, this may have been a special day for you to share with your little girl, but understand how special it was for me to see my little girl spend the day with you. We knew the day was coming, I thank god for how perfect it was...



I intend to write another post tomorrow about the details of the day, but needed to share the importance of this day. My 33rd birthday...

Have a great day,
The Downeast Duck Hunter

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hey Rabid!!!


If you have been following The Maine Outdoorsman's blog, then you may know he has a fixation on the Cabelas Big Book, or lack there of. He's got polls about it and has created blog entries about not getting one. So today is a special day, I'm happy to announce that I will be donating my Limited Spring Edition 2009 as a thank you- to a very special customer to my buddy Steve. No longer will he have to suffer man shopping withdrawals or write angry posts about never getting one. Cheers good buddy!!!

On another note, I've got some write-ups in the works such as some old squaw sled decoys an 83 year old made for me and my most recent ice fishing trip to the beholder of the Maine state record lake trout. Till then, have a great day!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Best Day Ever!!!

In a recent interview by Terry Scoville of the Women's Hunting Journal , I was asked a very challenging question pertaining to how I best introduce my girls to the world of hunting and fishing. It's not easy to do this especially when my girls are 4 and 2, but I can attest to one major factor when it comes to getting our next generation turned on to this traditional lifestyle. We must get our youngsters outdoors and within that scope, be sure to participate at their level. Talk to them about what you plan to do with the fish, catch & release or give your fish to the grandparents. Foster a discussion about that the time is special and if you do not find good fortunes, then there will always be another time. Show excitement that can not be trumped, this day is a pair of aces in your hand and nothing can beat it.

I finally got a pleasant day for some ice fishing. The temperature found itself in the mid-30's and there was little if any wind. My oldest daughter and I left home around 9:00 a.m. for the one half hour trip to one of my favorite brook trout lakes. We picked up all the necessary provisions such as doughnuts, chips, cookies, and well, you get the picture. There was no way any fruit was on this trip!!!

Once we hit the landing, the gear quickly moved to two sleds for a two thousand feet trek and with my little beauty in one of them, I plowed through some snow drifts and broke the top layer more times than I wished to count. However, we managed to get to my spot without a hitch and quickly started drilling a few holes. In no time, we put the traps in and set up my portable ice shack. Soon thereafter, we dove into the goodies and witnessed our first flag. I then knew that today was going to be special.

Within about two hours time, we managed four trout (the legal limit for this lake) and then spent some time making snow angels, snow mountains, and a little high speed sledding with daddy as the horsepower. My little girl smiled the entire time, it didn't matter if it was the first brook trout she caught or just sitting next to me in the shack. Her day seemed every bit as special as mine.

So if you are wondering about the future participation of a 4 year old in terms of ice fishing, I'm pleased to announce that I better ask her the next time I plan on going. With that said, the very next day of good weather will promise another venture. But I think maybe I'll bring my youngest as well, her older sister said she'd show how it's done!!!

Here's a few pictures of our success and I am so thrilled that we were blessed with one special day.