Our minds elsewhere. The things we hope for like plentiful trout, pike, and morel mushrooms fell together better than we could imagine. The streams were up and stained. Feral, Natch and I caught around ten trout each. We fished the Little South Branch and Feral made one trip to the Baldwin River. We usually hope for a downpour but the fish cooperated anyway. Browns up to seventeen inches. Might have seen a few larger.
The pike were biting too. Feral caught a record 7 pike on one trip around Big Leverentz in his new fishing kayak, a sit on top model. Feral has some serious mojo on pike. Natch and I struggled on the lake even though I was throwing the exact same lure as Feral. The lake was beautiful as ever.
Mushrooms were not really up but we still managed 3 skillets on 3 nights, fried crispy in “I can’t believe it’s butter.” Not sure why I didn’t grab a stick of real butter. I forgot a list of things I normally remember to bring to trout camp. Gloves to break branches for the fire. My coffee cup, a yeti from my daughter. My sandals. Other stuff. Natch brought some moonshine that went down smooth the first night. Remarkable since it was his first batch and only two days old. Mason jar moonshine. We came up with a couple marketing names but darned if I can remember.
We had the campground to ourselves. We set up on site one on the big lake. Feral pitched a new Cabellas backpack tent and I had my ’61 Apache Chief. Natch brought his ’64 Apache
As I said at the beginning.. our minds were elsewhere. Mike, a trout camp regular, an older brother of Feral and I, was in hospice care. Liver cancer. At first, there seemed to be some hope of beating it. I wrote an earlier post called “Mike” hoping he would read the post and understand my respect for him as a person. Don’t know if he read it but I tried to let him know my thoughts about him on my visits.
Mike passed away early Sunday morning, May 6, 2018. I was startled awake that night. I don’t remember a dream, only a sudden intense fear of death. Woke me up. It was dark in the tent. I managed to get back to sleep. I got the call that morning.
Even when you expect news like that it is hard to face the emotions. Happy it was over for him because he endured a lot of pain. Very sad for his wife and kids and grand-kids. A loss for myself of someone I could always turn to. Sad for Denny, his best fishing buddy. Sad for all the other people he touched in his selfless life.
Natch proposed a toast to Mike on the last night at camp. I thank Natch for that. Up to that point we were knocking down beers, making stupid jokes and conversation, our normal routine. Not sure Mike would approve of so much beer but he would have fit right in, laughing and joking with the rest of us.