Of course, all of that perspective comes against a backdrop of ample opportunity to participate in fishing events throughout the course of my life. My Brothers and Father have consistently encouraged me to come along on annual fishing trips to Canada and to a “secret spot” they have fished for years on the opening weekend of trout season. Additionally, my friends have always welcomed me to join them on their trips to fishing hotspots and to weekends on the water. Despite those facts, I did none of them. In fact, it wasn’t until the weekend before I embarked on my “I have never...” year that I made the trip up north to spend the opening weekend of trout season with my Brothers, my Father, and my nephew. There, I spent the days snapping photos of them engaging in their sport as we bonded on the banks of quiet, winding streams.
It was that weekend that the idea of me participating in a fishing tournament was born. Over a meal my Brother Abe asked me about my “I have never...” idea and my commitment to the concept. The conversation led my Brother Ian, my Father, and a close family friend Marv to start offering me ideas for tasks I could take on during the course of the year. Somewhere in the mix, Abe piped up with a simple remark, “Well, you’ve been to the opening weekend of trout season now. What about coming up to Canada?” A quick check of dates on my calendar showed that wouldn’t be feasible.
“Alright then,” Abe replied, “What about a fishing tournament. You know they always have fisherees on Green Lake each winter. That would be a great experience for you and I would be happy to get on the ice.” The idea was straightforward, but it had resonance. After a little thought I committed to making it possible. “Yeah, I can do that,” I said decidedly, “If this weekend is any indicator, I’m sure there would be a lot I could take away from an experience like that.” Everyone in attendance assured me that would be the case, which set into motion one of the earliest “I have never...” plans of my journey. The seed had been planted. I was going to participate in my first ever fishing tournament on the ice of Green Lake this winter.
A little more than eight months later I found myself waking up to the sound of my alarm blaring through the basement of my Father’s house at 5:00 am this morning. The noise caused my Brother Abe, who had spent the night in the room next door, to crack open my door as he passed down the hallway. “Let’s get moving. We have to get out there before the sun comes up if we want to catch some good fish.” Sitting up in my bed I traced the path that had led me to the morning of my first fishing tournament. My recollection of the conversation Abe and I had at the beginning of the previous spring forced a smile on my face. “Well, it’s finally here,” I muttered to myself as I dropped my feet to the floor, “My first experience with a fishing tournament... In the middle of January... at 5:00 am... when its two degrees outside. What better time than now, I guess.”
|5:30 am... Picking up bait.|
|Learning the auger...|
|Looking down through two feet of ice|
|Micah grabbing some bait|
|Setting the tip up|
|Adding some bait|
|Our base for the day|
|The sun finally breaking over the clouds|
Several hours later May Dad, Abe, Micah, and I had little more than a few bites on one of our tip-ups, which left us wondering if we were likely to see any action as the day pressed on. The inactivity did little to damper our spirits, however, as we spent the morning hours tossing around the football, cracking jokes about Olympic commentators we had seen on television last night, and telling one another stories. Even as other fisherman pulled their gear from the ice and headed home in defeat, we held steady and made the most of our time together. Sure, we hadn’t caught a single fish, but being on the ice this morning with some of my closest family members made every second of the experience, and the cold, absolutely worth it.
|Drilling more holes|
|Checking for movement...|