My first time guiding
Erik Osberg, Outdoor Reporter
Erik Osberg, Outdoor Reporter
Saturday marked the 31st Annual Nick Adams Memorial Fishing Classic for Confidence Learning Center. It also marked my first ever time acting as an official fishing guide.
Camp Classic Ambassador, and Due North TV host Bill Sherck asked for anyone with a boat to volunteer to be a guide. I reluctantly offered to help. Bill & fellow ambassador Jamie Dietman said they’d show me a couple “fishy” spots & reassured me that it would be ok. I on the other hand, had been second-guessing the decision ever since.
I’d been so busy leading up to the tournament; I hadn’t made time to get properly geared up. I was running off 4 hours sleep when I showed up at the boat landing. No minnows, no crawlers & no leeches, just a bunch crank baits & some plastics. Since it was raining, I thought maybe the people I was supposed to guide wouldn’t show up, and then I’d be off the hook guilt free. I got registered & waited for my fishing partners to arrive. And they did.
Two complete strangers walked up to me & introduced themselves, “I’m Bill & this is my brother Cal”. They were from Bemidji, MN and looked like they knew a thing or two about fishing, there’d be no fooling these guys. The first question they asked was; “How long have you been a fishing guide?” BUSTED! I had to come clean. “Well, this is actually my first time guiding. “ I tried to reassure them but could see the disappointment on their faces. Then they asked if I’d be willing to make a side bet with their buddies who were fishing in a different boat. How could I say no? I needed to at least give the illusion of confidence. We loaded up their gear & headed out. There were 74 other boats entered in the tournament, and I was VERY intimidated. Even though this was all for a good cause, we were competing against some true legends of the lakes: Tony Roach, Perry Good, and Walleye Dan just to name a few. To make matters worse, turns out the buddies we had a side bet with were fishing with Perry Good! Perry Good is one of the ALL TIME money winners in professional walleye fishing, he’s forgotten more about fishing than I’ll ever know. Go ahead, Google him.
“How often do you fish Gull Lake?” Bill asked. Once again, BUSTED! “To be honest,” I said, “this will be my first time. But don’t worry, I’ve got a plan.” And I did, we were going to head to one of the spots Jamie shared with me and work the weeds. In this tournament, you can weigh Bass, Northern Pike & Walleye. Bill & Cal took the situation in stride & agreed on the strategy.
We got set up in our first spot, an underwater point that topped out at 8 feet deep. I gave Cal & Bill a ¼ ounce jig with a 4-inch grub plastic on it & I proceeded to cast a Rippin Rap. On about the 5th cast, it happened. I got BIT! I didn’t land the fish, but at least I knew we were in “FISHY” waters. Two more casts and I had one. It was a small Northern. Bill & Cal didn’t want to keep it, but there was NO WAY I was coming in empty handed. “It’s better than the one we don’t have.” I said, and I put it in the live well. A few casts later, BOOM! This one was a decent bass. It jumped and shook loose. I was disappointed but encouraged; we were definitely on some fish. I set Bill up with a lure similar to mine and we caught some more fish. Eventually we had two small northerns & a bass in the livewell. The not so good news is Bill got spooled by a big fish because I hadn’t put enough line on the reel. Bill took it very well. When I went to respool, the depth of just how unprepared I was became glaringly clear. The only line I had in the boat was some 6-pound panfish line. I didn’t tell Bill & Cal, I just re-spooled & re-rigged his set up. I decided we should change tactics & start pulling cranks. And it paid off.
We were able to upgrade a northern & our bass, & then things got REAL interesting. Bill said “Fish ON!” and it was a good one. It was staying down and giving head shakes like a big walleye, then it started to run. By now all three of us were standing up, our pulses were accelerated. “Take it easy” Cal told Bill. “I’m trying!” was Bill’s response. Then the fish took its first run. Bill was feeding it line. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he was using panfish line and I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if we lost this fish too. Bill did a great job fighting the fish, it took a few runs, went under the boat & eventually we saw it. It was a BIG HUGE PIKE! It’s back crested the water like a shark. The fish was tired & it was time to net it. Bill pulled ever so carefully. The fish was on the surface, very still, heading towards the boat. I had the net in the water and my heart was racing! Closer, closer, closer & then… GOTCHYA! We had an 11-pound northern in the boat.
High fives ensued; Bill & I were shaking. Cal was grinning ear to ear & the scope of the day had turned. We were now “in the running.” The adrenaline kept us going for quite some time and the pressure to produce was now off. But now I wanted to win. We agreed to go cast some docks to try to upgrade our bass & that worked too! Cal caught a nice 2 and half pounder on a floating Rapala & Bill followed up with a 2 pounder. We had 6 fish in the livewell & only needed to catch one walleye to have a chance at winning the Mixed Bag award. Over the next two and a half hours, we tried everything we could. But no walleyes were to be had. But it didn’t matter.
We headed back to the weigh-in with our heads held high. We needed an extra bag because of the all the fish we had. We even got some oohs and aahs as we worked our way through the weigh-in.
We ended up finishing fourth in the Northern Pike division, and we missed out on the biggest fish by less than two pounds. But none of that mattered. What mattered was that Bill and Cal and I had a BLAST! We laughed, we told jokes, we shared stories and we created memories that will make us smile every time we recall them. Not to mention we helped a good cause, saw some old friends & made new ones. Not bad for a rainySaturday.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can help Camp Confidence or to be a part of next years event on June 20, 2015 visit www.campconfidence.com
As for the side bet, well let’s just say the first beverage was on the boys who fished with Perry Good. Remember, it’s not about having time, it’s about making time.