When fishing is not just bad but so bad there is speculation about whether a lake has been poisoned off I often get called in as a consultant. I received a desperate call from Feral and Natch begging me to come up to Leverentz Lake because they had made multiple trips around the lake, tossing their best pike lures, without a glimpse of a pike. I don’t normally do pro-bono work but I made the drive knowing how much they respect my ability and opinion.
The situation was even more desperate than I thought. Feral, who’s usually game for a beer or two on a hot evening fish was going out cold sober. I thought that in itself might throw off his game. Natch had gray hair which was surprising because only last fall it was brown. As I listened to their plight I noticed a group of adults and kids, about twenty total, heading from the fishing dock to the parking lot. Feral yelled, “Any luck?” The whole group looked slightly dazed and zombie like. One man turned to yell back, “One perch,” indicating with his fingers a length of 3 to 4 inches.
That was not a good sign but my normal position in a case like this is: the fish are there. They are momentarily turned off. Time to pull out my bag of tricks and show how it’s done. I encourage Feral and Natch to give it another try but Natch threw his hands up and said,”No way.” To my and Feral’s amusement Natch said he was going trout fishing. To set that scene it hadn’t rained for maybe a week. The streams were low and clear. The sun was out. It was hot. Add those up and it is almost comical to hit a trout steam. Not impossible to catch a fish, but an extreme challenge.
So Feral and I took the kayaks out on Big Leverentz and tossed every lure in our arsenal that might begin to entice some action. Spinner baits, crank baits, top-waters, plastic worms, spoons, rooster tails. Lures with a reputation and history of catching northern pike. We worked the drop-offs, the flats, the cove, we were determined not to leave the lake without a pike. Eventually the sun started sinking along with our resolve. Time to re-group back at camp.
Call it divine intervention? A deal with the devil? Fate? The jury’s out but Natch came back with a trout story we had to accept because it was backed up, wisely, with cell phone photos in my email. On a stretch of the Baldwin river he caught a twenty-something steelhead along with multiple brown trout from small to sixteen inches. He said the browns were all over his minnow bait from the moment he stepped in the stream.
I don’t know if it was depression, lake burn-out, or what, but Feral for the first time ever crashed out early and forgot to lock his beer cooler in his van. Natch and I built a campfire and stayed up to about 1:00 ignoring Feral’s cooler as best we could.