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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.I 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!
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.
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!
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!