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OUTDOORS WITH SKIP…. Boat Trailer Battles And Fishing

Finally we have gotten to fish!  Some five weeks after the initial warm-up during that first week of March that prematurely set everything in motion, I actually got the boat into the water.  Not that it hasn’t been ready to go, I have been waiting patiently for some warm, windless mornings, but instead have been deluged with high winds and cold temperatures for five weeks. Nothing quite aggravates the old arthritis like cold and damp wind! During that initial warm up in March several early bird fishermen caught fish in the lakes and rivers, some of which made it to my shop. And then it turned cold—and turned off the fishing.  Now we finally seem to be entering a period of prolonged warm-up, with temperatures in the 60s and 70s at long last.  

One of my main retirement goals was to fish a great deal more than I have been able to these past several years. Before retiring I bought a new boat in hopes of being able to simply slip off by myself and fish for a couple of hours several times a week.  So far this has not happened  because it seems to require at least two of us to get the darned boat into and out of the water. How frustrating is that! I have already altered and changed the trailer dynamics several times in hopes of making the boat ease on and off—all  seemingly to no avail.  I am now experimenting with plan “D”, “E” or “F”– I’ve lost count– currently trying to mount a second winch on the trailer to crank off the boat. Things are not going well on that front either.

I fished La Due earlier in the week.  This is a lake that I never have much success in until well into June.  But it is close by and usually serves as a first time, test the – boat- and- equipment- out, lake.  Which is exactly what we did.  To elaborate on my trailer problems, I have been having great difficulty in getting the new boat I purchased last spring to slide off the trailer. It takes a Herculean effort to push it off the trailer in these small, local lakes that typically have very poor facilities, characterized by shallow boat ramps or no boat ramps at all. The original trailer was set up for boats to float on and off in a good launching ramp. The good launching ramps like that are at Mosquito, Walborn Reservoir, Berlin, and West Branch.  Perhaps the real problem is that I got old and can no longer supply the effort and muscle anymore. At any rate, to cope with the problem I installed bunk rollers.  This was no great shakes. I’ve done this before many times, and it worked on my other boat trailers. I also re-configured the main keel trailer rollers.  These changes made absolutely no difference.  This past winter I took the trailer apart, re-designed it and welded a backbone into it and added more rollers.  No only did this not work but it is actually now harder to push off the trailer than originally. I am flummoxed! The trailer, which originally was very flimsy, now, however, is stout enough to hold the Titanic! O.K., a trailer designer and engineer I am not!  Obviously, I should stick to taxidermy.

After negotiating the road leading to the water at La Due (the road is so bad that it reminds me of Craters of the Moon National Park in Idaho) and muscling the boat into the water (by my son who is half my age) we proceeded to fish the end of the lake south of the Rte. 422 causeway. After about three hours of fishing for crappies and/or Bluegills (my granddaughter Emma, age 8, was, I’m sure, fishing for marlin judging by the size of the lure she was throwing) I can honestly say we had absolutely no luck.  The wind was stiff and cool but we persevered.  Because there were probably 50 or more boats on the lake, many of which we stopped and chatted with, I can say that most of them likewise had not very good luck either.  I noticed that the weed growth was extremely minimal—meaning no cover for the fish—and that the water level was down a good 18 inches from usual spring levels. Both of these factors are related to the cool dry spring we have had. A bass fishing tournament that was going on apparently did produce some bass though.  I heard one contestant say that he had about 25 lbs. of bass—I don’t know what place that landed him in the contest.  But while we had no luck, a customer brought in for mount a 34 inch northern pike he caught at La Due during the same period that we were out.  He caught it on a crappie rig.

Later on in the week, after still more adjustments to the trailer, we put the boat in at Lake Hodgson, in Ravenna.  Hodgson typically warms up more quickly than the bigger lakes and I have usually had good success there early on.  The boat ramp, however, is probably the shallowest ramp of any lake nearby.  You would have to back your car totally into the water to get the boat to float off the trailer.  Needless to say we had to bounce, push and cajole the boat off the trailer again despite my best efforts.  But we headed for the south end of the lake to fly fish.  This was a productive venture.    Over the course of three hours we kept about 13 big bluegills and threw back probably 13 more.  What seemed to work best was a tiny floating black ant fly.   I had no luck trying to draw in any bass with bigger wooly buggers, and could not rouse a single crappie with any of a variety of crappie flys.  But you can bet that I will return to that south shore later in this week with some bait casters and rubber worms.  I like to fish Lake Hodgson early in the spring—I seem to always do well there.

On Saturday my son, my younger granddaughter, Brett, and I took the boat to Mogadore Reservoir south of Kent.  This has likewise been a good lake for us to fish just about any time of the year. But we have done especially well in the spring with crappies. The boat ramps at Mogadore are somewhat better than most around here though still too shallow.  Needless to say, all my readjustments to the trailer were to no avail again!  But we launched the boat with the assistance of hip waders.  The first thing that I noticed was that the waterweeds were almost non-existent there also.  Obviously the prolonged cold snap since the March warm-up has hindered plant production.  We usually fish shallow weed beds for crappie, doing best with an extremely small 1/64th oz. jig with a feather.  While we didn’t find many crappies, we did find many big bluegills.  We kept about 20. Brett, age 5, fished hard, ate potato chips, and entertained us with a variety of diatribes including fish eye colors, various signs on trees, and good and bad fat content of the potato chips.

I am now once again  taking apart the boat trailer in the garage and reconfiguring it. I have talked to my friends at D & D Marine in Mantua and ordered more rollers. They like to see me coming.  I have ordered more rollers from them than anybody else in history. They can’t understand how the boat can still stay on the trailer with all the rollers.  My good friend Barny Safko who is an excellent “garage engineering genius” is out of ideas.

In case you’re wondering, they no longer sell tilt trailers and as far as I know they never have made trailers low to the ground especially for small, shallow lakes.  What to do next?  

Do you fish, hunt, trap, camp, go for nature walks? What else do you do outdoors? Drop me a line at THE VILLAGER, P.O. Box 331 Garrettsville 44231. E-mail me at Skipstaxidermy@yahoo.com or give me a call at 330-562-9801. I’d like to hear from you.