Gone Fishin

Spaz.  That pretty much sums up in a word my first attempt at going fishing in an inflatable kayak.

It’s not the first word that comes to mind when you think of a former beauty queen but I would like to be clear that I can trip over AIR.

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Having spent the morning going to the fishing shop, listening to the fisherman gossip, and getting my very first California fishing license, I was super excited about seeing what all the fuss was about!

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You see we had seen this man walking down the road by Lake Mamie with what can only be described as a bevy of beautiful trout.  He looked like an ad for Orvis.  This guy KNEW how to fish!

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I casually congratulated him and inquired in my best southern drawl what bait he was using.  I felt like a spy trying to get damning secrets out of a crooked politician over a martini.  I mean this was important.  Bait was where it was at!  He promptly told me what he was using (Succumbed to my southern drawl or just really nice guy?) and why he thought it worked so well and I hightailed myself to town to pick some up.

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First step was to practice my casting technique.  I had spent an endless childhood fishing in the bayous and lakes of Louisiana but it had been a couple of years since I had picked up a pole and I wanted to see how out of practice I was before boarding an ocean going vessel made out of rubber with a sharp hook.  I carry a life jacket on my kayak in case of an emergency but I wasn’t planning on having to test out this safety feature if I didn’t have to.

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When we were cabin hunting one of the things that kept bringing us back to our sweet little place on Twin Lakes was the lake access.  While we were attracted to some of the higher, more remote options it was the front door with steps to the water that kept pulling us back.  I put this to good use with my kayak, now it was time to start participating in what I was watching countless people do every day in the front yard.  Go fishing!

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I popped on my wellies, took a glass of wine over to the falls, found a slightly submerged spot on a rock on which to keep my wine glass chilled (priorities), and started going through the paces of casting.

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Would you believe I caught a fish right away?  I guess I wasn’t that out of practice!  Unfortunately, having forgotten to grab the net and having gotten excited I did exactly what my Dad always told me not to do.  I jerked the fish out of the water, it promptly fell off.   As I was completely unprepared for what to do with a caught fish since I was just trying to hone my technique it was probably for the best all around.  I pondered this over another glass of wine.  As I was feeding the fish I figured it was only fair to feed myself as well….

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With this success in my back pocket I loaded my kayak in the car and headed up to Lake Mamie to see if this bait story held water or was just a diversionary story by a wily old fisherman.

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I don’t know if any of you have ever fished from an inflatable kayak.  I certainly hadn’t.  Some small issues….

First off, you can’t anchor it since it would more then likely sink, it also being a lake in the mountains which is often quite windy the first battle was trying to get the line in front of me.  I did some stationary gymnastic worthy moments trying to get out from under my line.  Probably not an Olympic sport contender yet but give it some time and who knows!  Drift is a serious problem as well.  As soon as I got cast into a great spot towards shore I would somehow end up on top of my line.  Thank goodness no one was filming this spectacle of spasticness, although I’m sure it would have gone viral with the utter ridiculous of me spinning around in circles trying not to get tangled in my own fishing line.

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This was all fine and dandy as this was partially an experiment, that is until I caught the line on a log and snapped it.  I managed in a fancy ninja move to catch the line before the hook sunk out of sight.

Now I was in a fix.  I had the hook, line, scissors, but trying to rig this on a wind tossed kayak wasn’t exactly what the designers of fishing line had in mind.  I did however by some miracle manage to get the whole thing re-rigged without flipping or running into land and was feeling quite proud until I did my next cast.  There was a catch.  Meaning it caught and didn’t cast.  Seems I had done something wrong, I thought I knew what it was but fearing some calamity that ended with me and the pole in the water I decided to head back to shore.

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Which is when I found THE CANADIANS.  Oh Canada!

I was dejectedly paddling back to shore when I ran across this very nice Canadian family that lived in Santa Monica fishing from the shore.  They asked me how it was out on the lake and I explained my dilemma.  These two delightful gentleman offered to help and spent the next 10 minutes re-working my pole!  Turns out they were from the St. Lawrence river area where I had taken my very first white water rafting trip and had gotten hooked on fast clear water. Kismit at work once again.

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It would be a couple weeks before I stepped back out on the lake with a pole.  It was dusk and I was in the mood for a light paddle on Twin Lakes.  I decided to take the pole just in case.  The lake was calm, the fish were biting, the waterfull was providing a spectacular evening show, conditions couldn’t be more perfect.IMG_1043I landed a crafty little fellow a little while later and managed to reel him in and net him without tipping out of the kayak.  Success!  Unfortunately, the little guy had swallowed the hook completely so I had to paddle back in to sort it all out.  But, fish was on the table for dinner tonight!

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I had never cleaned a trout before and decided that if I was going to get into this I had to be prepared to do the whole job even the dirty one.  Being a nature softie like myself there is always a bit of sadness when killing a fish.  But I also believe in a way if you are prepared to eat something it is a good lesson to understand that it has given it’s small life up for you and to appreciate it.

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I looked over a quick tutorial and went at it.  I think I did alright in the end.  I could have used a sharper knife and now my Opinel that I bought in Chamonix will be living at the cabin for just this purpose!

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My boyfriend broke out the cast iron skillet, browned some butter, and tossed in some lemon wedges with the trout.  It’s unreal how delicious fresh fish right out the lake is compared to what you buy in the store!   I can see now why there are so many people out on the lake everyday trying to score dinner to bring back to their campsite!

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Bon Appétit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When Moths Attack

“Bugs.  Why did it have to be bugs?”  Is essentially what I tell myself every time I walk into the cabin upon my return.

This time when we walked up to the exterior of the cabin it was entirely covered in spider webs.  I couldn’t stop myself from singing  “Their house is a museum, when people come to see ‘em, they really are a scream, The Addam’s Family.”  It did look like the place that creepy family would spend their summer holidays.  “Chateau Fosho’s House of Terrors” had a nice brochure ring to it.

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Having been at the cabin just 3 weeks before I could only imagine that a Napoleonic size army crew of spiders could have accomplished so much in so little time.  I was terrified to open the front door to see what awaited us inside.

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Luckily by some miracle it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  While definitely having a stop, drop, and roll reaction upon getting through the initial mudroom entryway the actual inside was bearable.  Bearable meaning there wasn’t an arachnophobia inducing spider party happening with disco balls and 8 legged pole dancers zipping up and down the wooden rafters but still enough webs to make a nice sweater out of.

It was definitely time for a summer scrub down.

I got out the broom, swifter sweepers, cobweb brush, Raid, and went to work.   I would say by the end of the day there was a terrible disturbance in the spider world.  The casualties were many and it would take two very large glasses of wine to get me to stop lurching every time a stray piece of hair touched my neck.

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I had some help though in my cleaning….this little guy kept sneaking into the cabin.  I was wondering if I broke into song if he would pick up a broom and start sweeping ala Cinderella.  Unfortunately all he did was play hide and seek with my broom every time I tried to kick him out, then he would sit on the windowsill and watch me till he got another chance!  Sneaky little bugger.

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Feeling joyful at the thought of sleeping that evening without looking up into a ceiling full of webs I started to get into cozy time.  This is when it came to my attention that custom window screens in the summer were to become as essential as snowshoes in the winter.

The spiders were just a forewarning of summer bug season.   This being my first official summer trip up I hadn’t yet gotten the full picture.  Since it was warm out I had the few working windows open to the delightful mountain breezes sweeping across the lake…

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As the last light started to fade I popped a couple lamps on in the house.  I was not prepared for the kamikaze attack that was to unfold.  The gnats were first.  I had no idea there were that many tiny bugs in the universe let alone now inside my cabin.  Then came the moths……

Growing up in New Orleans where I myself had coined the turn of phrase “Kamikaze Cockroaches”  you think I would be an old pro at dealing with flying insects of all kinds.  There are some things that are better left in the past lore of childhood….

I quickly shut all the windows but it was too late, they were already IN.  I realized my mistake immediately and knew now in the future I was to close all the cabin windows before turning on any lamps, then before I opened any over night windows to shut every single light off in the house, then wait a spell before re-opening any of those keyholes to the bug kingdom.

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But as of now they were in and so was I.  The moths were everywhere doing a tap dance against the lamps.  What was even more frightening was each place where there was a lamp next to a window there were a million of their little friends beating against the glass trying to get inside.  I had a terrible moment where I wondered what would happen if the glass broke.  The scene from The Mummy where the tornado of beetles attacked danced it’s way across my brain.

I went to bed, shut off all the lights and hoped for the best.  I had dozed off and was just settling into a deep sleep when one of those kamikaze moths flew right into my forehead.  SMACK.   I was thankful it wasn’t my mouth.  Wide awake now I armed myself with a flashlight and a fly swatter and went to test my batting average on the entire cabin bug population.

They had their revenge a couple nights later when I had a mosquito soar it’s way into my ear canal.  I imagine that this is exactly what losing your mind must feel like.  A mosquito knocking around in what feels like your brain.  Disgusting doesn’t quite sum out how I felt when I used a q-tip to clean mosquito guts out of my eardrum.

The pleasures of cabin life.

The custom screens had just worked their way up to the top of the cabin repair list.

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I wish I could say that after all these lessons I had the whole nighttime pest thing under control.  While I had gotten the bug situation sorted out enough to live with for the time being, I did not however factor in larger things getting into the cabin in the night.

About a week later I awoke to a fluttering overhead that I am fairly sure was a bat.  I lurched my way out of the bed and onto the floor.  Quickly grabbing my flashlight and fly swatter again.  Although I’m not sure what I was hoping to do with the fly swatter.  That thin membrane of plastic probably wasn’t designed to deal with blood thirsting mammals.  I had houseguests so in an attempt not to wake them I slunk around the bedroom pointing the flashlight into all corners of the rafters.  I had either scared it away or it was under the bed latched onto the springs plotting it’s Dracula style attack on me later in the night.  Sleep was to remain an elusive friend that evening.

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Next morning as I was chatting with one of my guests she confessed she also had heard it and thought for sure it was a bat as well!   I can only hope that we were both mistaken and it was a rather large moth on steroids and not a rabid bat.

What’s funny is that a bear had gone to town on the log behind my bedroom window at some point the week before ripping it to shreds and we had also discovered a fresh scratch on the side of the cabin but it wasn’t the bear I was even remotely losing sleep over it was the stupid BUGS!

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