“Are we there yet,” she said? It’s about 440 miles to Clayton, New York from our house. “I think we have gone five miles”, I said to Emma, my nine-year-old Granddaughter. “We’ve got a ways to go yet.” Nine years old is a great age to be; no worries about how you look to others, or for that matter, how you sound to others. “I’m going fishing with my Dad and Grandparents. I have them all to myself, just me” (no sister to compete with). Then she resumed regaling us with the bottles of beer song.
It was the best of days; it was the worst of days. It was a day that we had been looking forward to since last September. This was the first time we could get out fishing this spring, and it was long overdue! Because of our cold spring the fish have been slow to begin to bite. And probably more due to the prolonged cold weather, I have been slow to get out and see if they are biting. But finally we seem to have broken winter’s back and have had a run of warm days. Because Lake Erie is indeed very slow to warm up—little is biting around Cleveland and east– we went to Mosquito Reservoir where, if you follow the fishing blogs, and the Plain Dealer accounts, the walleye and crappie are reported to be very active. And because it was a very warm, sunny weekend many, many other people evidently felt the same way. As bad luck would have it there was a two-day bass tournament going on as well. We didn’t know that! We thought it would be over on Saturday.
The St. Lawrence River is about an 8-hour drive from Mantua, Ohio. It is the boundary between the U.S. and Canada from New York through Maine. The first 40 miles of the St. Lawrence from Lake Ontario eastward are also known as the Thousand Islands. This area has a mystique and aura about it, which is very much unlike any other place that I’ve fished before. It is reminiscent of the typically-pictured Canadian waterscapes with much rocky outcropping, craggy, rocky islands, rocks and trees, in-water rock piles, and whalebacks (reefs that protrude above water). Unlike typical Canadian waterscapes though, you are not out in the wilderness a hundred miles from nowhere. There are myriads of summerhouses scattered among the islands and shorelines. More than some of them are million dollar summer mansions. Many of these summer cottages are easily $250-500,000 abodes. Many are quaint, turn of the last century houses in excellent repair. Many are quite modern. This is not the typical Canadian Hinterlands.
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.