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So Proud!

On the Saturday before father’s day, I drove to flagstaff from Phoenix where my son is a full time student and NAU.  He got hired full time by the school to work the grounds crew so the amount of time I get to see him is limited.  At an elevation of 7500 ft it area holds some small natural lakes and reservoirs for the local cities to get their drinking water from. 

One such lake is Upper Lake Mary, it is right off the beaten path.  A long narrow lake of about 600 surface acres when full, it is not deep at all.  Maximum depths when the snow melt has filled the lake is around 35 ft.  While this lake is considered a jewel in the mountains, it has no limit on the boat or motor size as most of the other lakes in the area.  This can become annoying after a while. 

Saturday June 20th, after my quick drive to the cooler country, 90 degrees vs 115 in Phoenix, a haze of smoke from a forest fire some 40 miles away makes the sun shine off the water.  My son Lucas and I head out to the lake around 11 am, with Northern pike and Walleye in mind, yes I said walleye and northern.  The game and fish dept put them in many years ago, and now this little lake produces state records every year. 

Along with the normal trout frenzy, perch, crappie, and small stripers, the bigger fish are hard sought after.

We pull up along the bank, the same place we fished 3-4 years ago.  Rocky, weedy, mossy, with a water temperature around 75 degrees, Lucas peeled his shirt off and waded out.  With a St. Croix 6 ft 6 inch rod and a small Abu Garcia bait caster in hand he was off.  Looking over his shoulder at me says, I’m glad I wore my lake clothes today. 

The wind starts blowing making the lake pretty choppy, with the roar of fast boats and jet skies in the distance, Lucas is working the Garcia pretty good with a single hook plastic looking shad.  Cast after cast, wind picking up a bit each few minutes, he is reeling in the shiny shad.  All of a sudden at the surface of the water, some 10 yards out from him, the line goes tight and a fish flies out of the water.  Lucas looks at me, where I have been sitting since the start rigging up lines, fixing a reel that does not want to cast, and just enjoying the day.

Luke comes to the shore, with the 17 inch snot rocket on the end.  I grab the fish, and attempt to remove the lure from its mouth.  The hook landed in the back of the upper lip and pulled all the way to the front.  This little bugger has a grip on the shad like it was his last meal.  With the hook out of the lip, the next challenge was to loosen the grip to retrieve the lure.  Lucas, with the aid of a needle nose pliers was able to move the fishes lower mouth enough to wiggle the lure out.  After looking at the little monster, we released it to become a trophy one day.

Watching my son wheel the bait caster, in the breeze, with very little experience, I was simply amazed and so proud to watch him, cast and retrieve like a kid that grew up on a lake.  We traveled in 2010 to Leech Lake, where this was his first experience with a bait caster.  We both had many birds nests in our trip, broke a rod when a big walleye hit it, and realized then that a trip to town for proper equipment would be in order.

Today, our trip to town was to find out what other fisher folks were using.  Anything red, shiny, sparkly, or resembling a shad was working.  Lucas grabs a Rapala top water lure, saying this is the one. It was colored and modeled after the suggestion of the clerk.  So with new tackle in hand back to the lake where after drying off in the sun, off he goes again into the water. 

Wheeling the bait caster in a bit stiffer breeze, “BOOM”, 4th cast out, another pike.  This one a bit smaller, around 15 inches, and barely holding on, we remove the lure and release the fish. 

Not 5 minutes later, crash, another pike on the hook, this one snagged a treble in the eye.  We held it in the water moving it slowly to see if it would swim off, and after 20 seconds that little bugger was gone. 

Lucas proceeded to stand in the lake for another hour or so, after 5 hours of fishing we decided it was time to go back to town for a shower and meal. 

After spending the day on the lake, both sunburned like the last time we fished this lake,  watching my son, work a reel that he rarely fished before, snapping it back and forth like a kid who grew up on a lake with one in hand. 

This little trip made me so proud to watch him, not only how he has grown from the first time we went to Leech, but how he has become his own man.  This was the best Fathers Day ever.  I hope everyone else had as much fun as I did. 

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