There's something about watching a sunset with no land in sight. The gentle lull of a boat, swaying in the waves.
The fact that I was in a chair, taking selfies and reeling in a 300-foot copper line with a fish on it might have made it even more fun.
I spent the weekend on a 30-foot boat in the middle of Lake Ontario above Rochester. Well, maybe not the middle of the lake,but my phone did chime in with "Welcome to Canada!" at one point. I was surprised it didn't say "Welcome to Canada, eh."
The boat left the docks of Shumway Marina and headed northeast, out of Rochester harbor. Most captains prefer a slow troll out to fish. Not Captain Andy. His goal was to get where he had marked fish earlier that morning, hit the area hard and then troll back in at the end.
Since I plan on a longer version of this story for Explore the Great Outdoors, the hunting and fishing magazine I produce for TRR, in a few weeks, I'll keep this short and sweet and only talk about Saturday's trip.
The weather was great and the venerable Captain Andy kept us on the fish all afternoon.
My first catch for Saturday was a steelhead. After that was a king, and plenty of rainbow trout followed. Now, when I say rainbow trout, I don't mean the pretty little 6- to 12-inch fish that are plentiful here. These trout are a big bigger. My smallest catch for Saturday was well past my elbow when I held it by the gill cover. I never did measure it, but I would guess it clocked in between 18- and 20- inches long.
It seems large, until you think about the body of water in which we were casting our lines. The depth of the lake where we concentrated our fishing efforts was around 500-feet deep. It was right around the Canadian border on the water— and the fishing was good, eh.
As the day wore on, we traded hunting and fishing stories, and I quickly became good friends with Andy's wife Donna. We got along so well that Andy threatened to change her phone number the day after we left so she and I couldn't conspire against him. (Those are tales not fit for writing down, so you'll be better off asking me in person for the funny bits.)
Andy told me about the copper line he had rigged in the center of the boat and warned me, "When it goes off, no one wants to grab it. It's a hell of a fight. Three hundred feet of copper line, plus a leader and some line on after the copper, too."
Easily picturing 400 feet of line, I raised an eyebrow when Andy said, "If that goes off, I won't even talk to you for the first hour. You'll be too busy fighting the fish."
I eyed the pole and shrugged, "How bad could it really be?"
Well, a few short hours later I found out. Just as the sun was beginning to set, the rod tugged hard against the holder. Me, being the dumbass I am, went for the movement before I realized just which pole had moved. Andy laughed at me and said, "Just be glad its not the 500 footer. That line snapped yesterday."
The captain set a timer, sat me down in the deck chair with the pole and continued to fish the others as I battled. After the first 20 minutes, I felt like I was gaining on it pretty well. I at least had the copper back to the reel. Though he said he wouldn't talk, Andy continued to ask about my progress, ribbing me the whole time.
My arms did manage to get tired pulling this fish in. So I would rest with the tip of the pole in the air and stretch my arms one at a time. I looked to my left in stretching and was captivated by the sunset. The bright idea popped into my head to take a selfie while fighting the fish and to then snap a few of the sun as it set. Since I wasn't gaining in the fight with the fish, it didn't much matter how I spent the time with the line drawn tight.
Slowly I gained. As the fish came closer to the boat, he fought back harder. At times, the little gain I got was torn back off the real in a split second. Other times it seemed the fish came toward the boat and I had trouble keeping the line as tight as I would have liked.
The last 50 feet of line, I dug in hard. Though my arms were slightly sore, I managed to reel the fish in pretty fast once I stood back up. The fighting monster was none other than the smallest fish of the day.
"That's the thing with that line," Donna remarked. "I caught one smaller than that and it fought just as bad. Imagine if it was bigger."
We checked the time from my grab to when the fish was landed. Fifty-six minutes.
Andy was impressed, "Under an hour is a hell of an accomplishment. I guess next year when you're back, we'll get you on the 500 footer and see how you do."
I smiled, and snapped another photo of the sun as it sank beneath the waves. "Sure thing. Five hundred sounds like a piece of cake."