A few years ago, a friend and I got together for what would become the first of many fishing trips together.
We did some research, found a place to stay and booked our trip.
Both of us were pretty excited about the trip and in the moths and weeks that lead up to the trip, we dreamed and talked about all the fish were going to catch, the good times were going to have and, again, all the fish we were going to catch.
Based on what we were reading, it seemed like it might be a bit tricky to find the fish, but not impossible. We had two days to fish and were confident in our skills.
When it was finally time to meet up and go fishing, both of us were ready. Our first night there, we wandered around to do a bit of shore fishing as we wouldn’t get our boat until the next day. We found a few spots to try casting and, almost immediately, I managed to hook into a fish. It was a little northern pike, also known as a hammer handle.
What followed were two long, fishless days.
We tried everything. Every lure that we had in our tackle boxes came out (this was before I started fly fishing) and every lure came up short. We even hiked in to a near by lake to see if maybe the fishing was a little bit better there.
All of this wouldn’t have been so bad if we hadn’t made the classic rookie mistake of assuming that we were going to eating fish the whole trip, so, basically, all we had to eat were side dishes–rice and vegetables in this instance–and little else.
We ate okay the first night. Night two was probably a meal of chips and beer. As we came into night three, we were starting to feel defeated. Our plan was to spend the day working the lake as best as possible and then go to the convenience store attached to the resort we were staying at and buy some hotdogs and macaroni. It was a plan that matched our depressed moods almost perfectly.
So we fished and we fished and we fished. And we grew more and more quiet as the day went on.
Finally, after about 7 hours of solid fishing (we bared stopped to use the bathroom, let alone eat the food we didn’t) we turned to each other and, seeing the look of defeat in each other’s eyes, we knew it was time to call it.
“Well, man,” I said. “I think it’s safe to say we gave it our all. It’s time for one last cast and head back in.”
It was a sombre moment, we were both more than a little sad by this time. We looked out over the lake, hauled back and let fly.
I’d love to be able to tell you that we managed one of the most impressive double headers that you’ve ever seen that resulted in two very happy friends, but it wasn’t meant to be.
There were no double headers, but, almost as soon as our lures hit the water, BOOM! Mark’s rod bent in half and, after a few minutes of fight, we had a beautiful little northern pike on the boat.
Well, of course, one last cast be damned. I tossed out another lure and, once he’d subdued his pike, Mark did the same. We were both suddenly filled with a kind of hope that we hadn’t expected to find on that trip.
As I watched my lure come unbuttoned right at the boat, Mark tagged another pike. After two days, he was suddenly experiencing a fish a cast.
We let the second pike go, high-fived each other and called it a day. We had caught our fish, we had food to eat and we had one of those fishing stories that you never forget.
To this day, every time we go on a fishing trip together, which is at least once a year, we always take the time to acknowledge the official last cast of the trip…even if we do sneak a few more in after that.
As I was writing this piece, I decided to do a bit of research on the lake we fished. What I learned was right around the time we went there, the fishing crashed in a big way. It went from a lake filled with fish, to be a tough lake to catch. It felt good to know it was just very bad timing on our part, not necessarily anything we were doing wrong (although we’ve both become better anglers since then).
Your experience here reflects on how there’s no guarantees in the business of fishing, but surprises often make the trip a memorable one. Thanks for sharing it!
I still think of it as one of our greatest trips. We learned so much, like never go on a fishing trip without a pack of hotdogs, just in case.
Thanks for the smiles this piece raised. The whole “one last cast” thing goes back to boyhood, I think. I’ve never fished, but growing up playing various sports, it was always “one last” shot, throw, kick, or run before calling it and heading in, ‘cos like on your trip, you never know, this might be the one…
It must. It was something symbolic to toast our efforts. I still can’t believe we caught that fish.