I'm going to start this fishing report by reporting an observation that anyone who knows him has observed time and time again: ANDREW LACKO IS THE MAN!
The Greek playwright Euripides is credited with penning the old proverb, "a friend in need is a friend indeed." I had no idea Euripides knew Andy. More on my nominee for NMA Man of the Year later.
(Quick bad joke time...
Euripides trousers, Eumenides trousers.
Sorry about that. Now back to this fishing report already in progress.)
I'm sure I'm not as hardcore a musky angler as I once was, and perhaps compared to the new breed of anglers I was never that anyway. I don't think hardcore musky anglers get cold in the almost completely miserable conditions Jojo and I had on the river today. And they certainly don't want their final trips of the year to end so they can get warm.
We started at 10:00am, and by 1:00 pm my hands were blocks of ice and I was concealing my shivering from Joe in a vain attempt to keep my tough, musky man facade intact.
When we started the conditions were pleasant enough. The wind was light. The air temps were in the mid-thirties. We had some snow early, but that faded to a veiled mist. I think I foolishly commented early in our trip, "this is almost a perfect day."
In retrospect it was a perfect day, but the weather wasn't, and we had to overcome a fourteen inch obstacle before heading home.
After trolling shallow in front of Strawberry to start, the rain commenced as we headed deeper near Frenchman's. I hate rain when it's cold. I always say I'd rather have snow than rain. That is of course until the snow starts.
We had a nice wakeup call in the form of Joe's Brett Bait snagging a hundred yards or so off the creek. For a few seconds both of us hoped Joe had something massive, which of course he did.
We continued to troll in 17 to 20 feet of water until we reached the cattails, or where the cattails were a month or so ago.
After sliding across river to just downstream from Beaver Island Marina, we reeled in and changed lures as we moved shallow.
The wind picked up and the snow started.
I snapped on a Night Shiner Fretthold Cuda. About five minutes later a musky agreed with my choice, showing her approval with deadly intent. It was a pretty solid rip and after a brief tussle, Joe skillfully netted her. He called her 45" in the net. The hooks came undone in the bag, but this fish was really hungry. She had a robust mouthful of Beckman as I tried to remove her for a measurement. After some untangling of nylon from her bridgework, we taped her at 43-inches. As soon as I set her back in the drink she descended to her happy hunting grounds. She wasn't the beast we'd hoped for, but we were both very happy to see her before saying goodbye. My Cuda was back 40-feet and the musky hit in 11-feet of water. The water temperature was 40.35.
Along with changing my lure prior to the fish hitting I also changed my fingerless gloves from soaked Simms A to dry Simms B. Simms B were now soaked from the musky business and, as you can see in the fish image, my fingers were beet red, and, I can assure you, they ached. I changed to Simms C. Simms C are a far cry from B and most certainly A. My mittens were soaked at this point and despite the hoard of chemical hand warmers inside, my paws were becoming useless.
On we trolled.
Our plan was to quit before dark in order to get Joe back to my dock at Rich so he could trail the trailer to Sheridan. The Green Lund was making her last trip of the year.
After pounding the 8 to 14-foot depths from Beaver to Strawberry with no more success, we called it a season at 3:40.
We zipped back to Rich, Joe jumped and I zipped to the launch. Everything was going swimmingly as I glided my boat onto its land home. Joe hooked her up and cranked, then he jumped in his truck and I smiled thinking about our day and chuckled to myself about another season in the books, when I heard a muted "pop" under the roar of Jojo's diesel engine.
"Pop" was followed by a steadily increasing and then decreasing in volume and cadence, "thud, thud, thud, thud, thud," as Joe came to a stop. This was followed by me filling the surrounding airspace with a mosaic of obscenities. One of my tires had exploded.
I'm not too sharp on the best of days and today was of course no different. I didn't have a spare. Since my trailer is used twice a year I never felt need to carry one. Bad move.
My hands were burning now, matching my temper as I started to pack up while thinking what to do. Joe didn't have a jack and I didn't have a tire. Another musky angler, his boat now safe and snug on its trailer, said we could take her home by simply removing the flat tire and her cross axle partner.
I'm not sure if it was Joe or I who suggested this, but before you knew it I was on the phone with the most handy guy I know, Andy Lacko.
I asked Andy if he had a jack and I told him my problem and I sought his opinion about one axel travel.
Andy said, "yes", "okay" and "it will put stress on the other axel." He then said he'd be right there with a jack and his spare tire. I was reminded of a scene from Pulp Fiction where Marcellus Wallace informs Jules Winnfield that the Wolf is on the way. The Wolf solves problems. Apparently Quinten Tarantino knows Andy as well.
About ten minutes later, and after fishing in the cold all morning with Danny in the harbor, my white knight appeared with our escape from the cold. One jack and one 14-inch tire.
Andy sprung into action side-by-side with Jojo. They should both work for a NASCAR pit crew or at the very least train new recruits. Blown tire off. New tire on. Me shivering and overwhelmed with gratitude.
Here's Andy sitting comfortably in his warm home until I call him in distress. There's Andy leaving his warm house without hesitation after removing the spare from his rig. Flash to Andy installing his spare on my trailer. That's a true friend for you. That's a man's man bailing out his buddies. That's incredible, refreshing and reassuring. In this time where sides are seemingly more important than the whole. Where selfishness, and me and I, outshine altruism and we and us, Andy is a constant reminder of the inherent good of our citizenry.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Andy!!! I am indebted to you, sir.
Jojo, I wish your rod would have fired today with a fish. Know this, brother, we'll get those sonofasoandso's next year!
Here ends another musky season for me. Congratulations to those that caught big fish, fish or their first fish. Congratulations to those that tried but didn't. Thank you to everyone who took the time to fish with me this year. Time on the water with friends and those you love is time well spent... even when it's miserable out.
I second that! Andy for MVP.
And all those years of driving OTR paid off.
HANDY ANDY HE'S A DANDY!
I got cold just reading this.