Ideally, we’d do all of our fishing out of spotless, shiny boats with motors that always start on the first try, or while standing in the middle of a beautiful river, clad in brand new, high-end waders — or at least in waders that don’t leak.
Alas, that’s not how it works. We’re Mainers. We make due. Sometimes waders leak. Sometimes you’ve got to fish from shore. Sometimes your motor doesn’t start. And sometimes … sometimes … your boat is not even a boat. It’s an ice-fishing sled that just happens to float fine, so long as you don’t take it out too deep, nor overload it.
Doubt it? Well, read on to hear the account of a memorable fishing “excursion” that paid off for the two youths involved. Steve Bell of Dexter responded to a recent query seeking fishing photos and tales, and I got quite a chuckle out of his story.
Here’s some of what Bell had to say:
“I read your invitation to send in some stories and pictures this morning so I thought I had one worthy of your attention from this past weekend (cute, but includes a big fish),” Bell wrote on May 24.
“As you know, last Sunday was a great day to enjoy the Maine outdoors. As the temperatures reached into the 80s the kids wanted to hit the beach for some swimming and fishing. We are fortunate to live near the lake in Dexter (Wassokeag) and fishing has always been pretty decent with togue, salmon and bass as the primary targets with an occasional trout or perch showing up,” he wrote.
“On this particular Sunday, My son Kamden (age 11) and his friend Ayden Goodreau (age 5) had to use some imagination and yankee ingenuity to make their fishing attempts successful (fishing from the dock was not producing the desired results),” Bell wrote. “Because school is not out yet and the beach area is not really set up (no boats, canoes or kayaks available yet) they decided to make use of some winter gear that hadn’t made its way into storage yet, which included an ice fishing Jet Sled (yes it floats!) and a snow tube.”
Bell knew that when folks saw the photo, some would have a pretty strong response. Here’s his explanation:
“To the adults on hand this was comical to say the least, but they were having fun and for those concerned about the lack of life jackets [the kids] stayed in close to shore in 3-6 feet of water,” he wrote.
So the kids were supervised. And they were in shallow water. ‘Nuff said on that matter.
“There was nothing sophisticated about this fishing outing, just kiddie poles,” Bell continued. “As my son tells it, he noticed a fish sitting on the bottom of the lake and moved his [hook] from one side to the other to get the fish’s attention.
“As we all know, it’s that time of year for bass and they are clearly sitting on their nests right now. I’m not sure I can describe in words what it looked like watching these two land what appears to be a 4- or 5-pound bass in a Jet Sled and snow tube (using adult flip flops for paddles),” he wrote. “After a few minutes of getting dragged around by the fish and finally hoisting it into the sled, the boys quickly brought it to shore for some pictures and bragging rights.
“The adults continued to laugh and look on in amazement. After some minor begging to keep and mount the fish, they respectfully released the fish and went back to their fishing,” Bell wrote. “Unfortunately, we didn’t weigh or measure the bass before releasing it, but it is clearly not a small (smallmouth) bass.”
The experience taught Steve Bell an important lesson as well.
“I guess you don’t need the expensive boat and high tech gear to catch a large fish. A little imagination and a little luck go a long way,” he wrote.