The Best Weekend of Your Life - 2014
In the late spring of 2014, my brother and I started talking about going on a weekend fishing trip. We wanted to make it a rustic trip, camping in the back woods with limited amenities. We would take tents and of course some camping gear... but this would be a trip away from electricity, far from campgrounds, washrooms, and showers. David volunteered to take the lead in organizing the trip and after the invites went out we had an elite crew of five guys ready to go! Life got in the way of many who would have loved to have joined us, but the group we ended up with could not have been better!
David did a great job of organizing things, using Facebook as a tool to decide on who would bring what, and to discuss the location and needs. This would be our first trip with all of us together in the group, and a couple of the guys were admittedly a bit more accustomed to campground living than a rustic trip. The trip was appropriately titled "the best weekend of your life."
The location was chosen in Southern New Brunswick at a lake none of us had visited before, but one known (and profiled by Outdoor Canada) to be a hotspot for smallmouth bass. We all carpooled together and gear was shared as we arrived at the location at the same time on Friday evening. Although we all wanted to get out on the lake right away, we did the responsible thing and chose and set up the campsite first. I can tell you from experience camping with these guys in the past that none of us are especially helpful with a flashlight after dark, and when you ask for the light to be held to help set up the tent, you are much more likely to be blinded by it than to get real help!
With our campsite ready, we headed out on our kayaks for our first experience on the lake. We were the only ones out on the lake the first night and had pristine weather to chase smallies. As we grouped up and waited for everyone to get into the water so we could head out together, we could feel it was going to be a special weekend. Several white perch were landed and released in fact, right in front of the dock as we waited to get everyone in the kayaks!
That Friday evening the fishing was great, and everyone had some terrific action catching smallmouth bass and white perch. The wind was moderate and we found a corner with some great action in near the weeds and caught and released many fish. I caught several nice bass including what would be my best of the weekend, and a number of white perch. The smallmouth bass here in the lake were obviously eating very well as they were much bigger around and heavier than those in the rivers we were used to catching. As darkness came, we headed into shore and moored our kayaks for what our bodies all were by then telling us we were missing: supper!
Supper would be cooked over a small propane cook stove and also over a campfire. We divided up into our own tasks as needed. Guys worked on gathering wood, others on the fire, and another as primary cook. There was a ton of steak as several of us hunt and had brought both deer and bear steaks along. We ate too much, told lots of stories, and stayed up too late bonding for a group hoping to rise around five AM.
Saturday morning at first light, two guys were left in the camp after staying up too long and wanting more sleep, but several headed onto the water. It was quite foggy but the water was clear and there wasn't a wisp of wind out on the lake. This would be the best fishing of our weekend as everyone on the water was catching fish one after the other. My brother caught a great fat bass measuring over 20 inches long, and one of the guys caught his first ever with a beauty slightly under 20 inches long. Those would be the biggest of the weekend for our group, although I am sure as you can expect, some of the ones that got away were much bigger.
After a bit of fishing the whole group came together for a terrific brunch and headed back out onto the water for more fishing. In the afternoon the conditions had changed to some strong winds and waves and the fishing died down. We talked to a couple of other fishermen out trolling for smallies in a shallow boat with a little electric motor and they had the same experience. One of the guys caught a monster white perch which we decided to keep for supper that night. It would be the only fish we did not release all weekend. A highlight of the day was drifting up on a doe and fawn feeding on the banks and they watched us for a while and allowed us to take some pictures before retreating to safety.
The memories of that day were many, and I will recount a few. One of the guys also was able to pull up the heaviest catch of the weekend when his hook lodged deep into a rock that had to weigh ten pounds. We have a picture of that monster and it was a catch to be proud of. There was also the recurring problem of guys dropping their fishing rods. Three in total were dropped in the lake and although all were recovered, one needed to take a dip to get his. I will never forget watching him stand up in his kayak nor of him getting back into his kayak from deep in the lake without flipping it!
I, of course, took my customary flip into the water as well, this time in shallow water when looking to get out to stretch my legs after sitting in the kayak for hours. And as you might expect, the fellas took pictures...
Saturday after dark was more of the same as we repeated the successful recipe from Friday. Lots of good, lots of laughs, and tons of stories around the campfire. We also learned that evening how loud a hopping bullfrog can sound when coming through the woods in quiet seclusion. We heard him coming into and through our campsite and located him. The white perch was especially a success cooked in aluminum foil over the campfire in lots of butter.
As we finished the weekend with an attempt at some morning fishing on Sunday, we encountered more high winds. I remember only catching one it two bass each that final morning and then it was time to leave for home. But we all vowed this would be a trip that will become an annual one, as so many great memories and stories will be told of that weekend.
We all were of different levels of experience both in terms of fishing and in kayaking. But this trip was more about appreciating the outdoors and getting away than about the actual fishing (although the fishing was largely fantastic).
In life, we all get so busy with work and chores and family that it is hard to find time to get away and slow down. That was what the weekend was all about. From Friday evening until Sunday morning departure there were no deadlines, no schedules, no pressure, and no one choosing for us what to do. We were the kings of the lake and did whatever we wanted on our own schedule. We fished and went on the water when we wanted to. Other times guys would sit around a campfire telling stories or rest in the tent when they wanted.
You don't have to spend a lot of money to "get away" or to make memories that will last a lifetime. All you need is to make that decision to get away and appreciate the world outdoors around you with no schedule or pressure. An old proverb says "he who has friends is rich beyond measure." As we can attest, a few great friends will help to make the trip better...
But the first and most important step is to make that commitment and just do it. I wouldn't give up those memories for all the money in the world! Thanks guys! Can't wait to see you all in 2015!
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