There is a certain excitement and anxiety each year when it comes to that first launch of the boat. It did not use to be that way. Before South Africa and before Detroit that first launch was usually uneventful- the boat got more use then and it wasn't entering it's 15th season of use. Since then, old batteries, trolling motor issues, tripped switches and so on have made that first launch akin to Russian Roulette but with more bullets. My B.O.A.T. (Break Out Another Thousand), a Ranger 18' aluminum hulled Cherokee, needed a fair amount of work over the winter. The prop and motor keel needed replacing, the trolling motor was not working, and their were a number of issues with the trailer requiring a new winch lock mechanism, a new boat guide, and new trailer tires. When I picked the boat up Glen assured me all was in good shape.....well except that I really could have used 1. a new winch strap hook- I will need to see if WD-40 can bail me out for the season, 2. a new weld joint between the trailer jack lift unit and the trailer- it looks pretty rusted, 3. and I could really use a pair of new trailer guide poles- one was lost somewhere along the New York State Northway a couple Adirondack trips ago.
So, on May 25th, Peter and I headed for the Kingwood ramp south of Frenchtown on the Delaware. After a brief stop at Bulls Island to part with $80 for a seasonal non-resident launch permit (the PA ramps are a joke and the NJ ramps only marginally better as every jet ski owner in the greater Trenton area insists on using them as a "beach") we backed down the ramp for the launch. The river was, as is typically the Murphy-esque case on days I choose to fish, high (fast) and heavily stained (muddy). But today we would not be deterred. We managed to launch successfully despite the need to wade in the thick mud at the bottom of the ramp (hey New Jersey- how about a little ramp maintenance with my $80?). The motor started, the trolling motor worked and all looked good for a day of fishing. If nothing else happened, the day would be deemed a success for no other reason than we did not sink or need to call nautical 911.
As all true fishermen know, there are "go to " spots. Spots when you know you will not only catch a fish but catch something of quality. There is that big rock up on Lake of the Woods in Sioux Narrows just a short trip from Red Indian Lodge- I caught my biggest Lake Trout and a very big Northern Pike amongst other fish. There is the deep hole near another big rock in the passage between Lakes Flower and Oseetah on the Saranac chain- I have caught many a niche smallmouth, maybe even my biggest. And there is the underwater cable area south of the Kingwood ramp in the Delaware. The later spot has produced both quality smallmouth bass and quite a few walleye. This day would be no exception. Despite the stained and quick moving water, Peter caught a walleye in the walleye spot- just as I knew we would.
Despite the temptation for instant sushi, a nice eating sized walleye was caught and released. As has been the case on so many beautiful sunny days on the D, it was not about catching fish, it was just being out there enjoying the day with one of my sons. On this day the old man was even out-fished. Congratulations Pete!
One more May note. You know you are getting older when your son invites you over for a Memorial Day barbecue. Steven invited his dad and his brothers to what turned out to be a seafood bonanza featuring bluefish ceviche, smoked blue fish and striped bass on the grill all caught by Steve. I guess when it comes to my family, fishing really does run through it
Enough to smoke and serve as ceviche