What's the Limit

Trout Whisperer

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Last Friday Tim wanted to know if we limited out. I said we did. Could he go with? Yup. Do you think I can get my limit too he asked? Sure. What should he bring? Just make sure you get a trout stamp. Where do I meet you and what time. All the guys meet up out on the pack ice, but Iʼll meet you by the access, say, five am.

When we left the public access the next Saturday Tim asked me how thick I thought the ice was. I stopped, turned around and asked him, you mean right here, where were standing, he said yes. I said I wasnʼt sure, but Iʼd bet it was over a foot thick this close to shore. He says, oh okay, I was just wondering. We started out again.

Heading away from shore in the dark is like heading for the 55th parallel on the globe. You just trudge north, walking over wind swept snow. The intersection of Ice Ridge road and Pack Ice Avenue is not going to be any more road sign visible than some line of latitude. The line is there, its real for navigation, but it isnʼt really drawn on the earth.

What is real looms in front of us. Thick shards of ice over ten feet high fractured, heaved and busted in any possible configuration to the eye tries to block our passage. This line we will cross. For the experienced, crossing it means youʼre no longer on the main shelf ice. The pack ice is not a slushy today grinding and undulating either, With 18 below and no wind to speak of the past two days it is quiet, Solid, yet teasingly deceptive.

From the east comes a hint of dawn. From below us an ear splitting crack that shudders and I can only relate it to an earth quake. Tim wants to know how thick the ice is right here, right now. Im slightly over heated from towing the sled, so I stop yet again, and face him.

See that chunk right there by your boots, the one youʼre mostly centered on, he says yes, I say that looks like its two foot thick to me. You see the vapor by the sled, that mist rising up, you see that too right, he says yes. I say thatʼs a crack between the ice, thatʼs open water.

Tim is no longer concerned with the ice thickness; he wants to go back and now. From the direction we have come from I see my lake trout brethren hiking out towards us. He half asks me if this is really safe. His voice is suddenly as shaky as the ice heʼs perched on. I told him in all the years we been doin this, nobody I know has died. I wait for my buddies to catch up.

Now as an assembled group we tell each other good morning as only fisherman will. Its one verbal jab heaped upon each other until Dan says, we gonna talk all day, or fish. We start the augers and drop three ounce baited jigs eighty feet to the Lake Superior floor. That fact about the depth were in, it set the tone for Timʼs entire day of fishing. He walked on the ice like it would break at any second.

His posture for most of the morning appeared as if he was in an Olympic snow race with his feet in the starting blocks and he always faced the ice ridge. When he reeled in a five pound lake trout, that did it for him. He said thanks, goodbye and left. He didnʼt care what the trout limit was, he reached his.

Posted by Trout Whisperer under Hunting Stories on January 23, 09 10:50 AM | Permalink

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