Good Buddies, Good Fishing
More Hardwater Action on the Bay

Harbor Angler Report, January 25th Photo

What are we other than the sum of the interactions we have with the people in our lives? The people who set our course and alter that course to varying degrees. For most of us, this course is set by our parents, siblings and other family members early in our life. Our significant others, spouses and partners, may help steady that course. However, throughout our life's journey we are buffeted by interactions with other individuals. These may be friends, work colleagues or just chance encounters. These interactions may not significantly alter our main course, but they do change our heading just as the currents and winds alter our path out on the lake.

I was reminded this week of the influence people have on your life. I had the opportunity to spend a wonderful day on the ice with three long-time friends and colleagues. But these three guys are more than friends, they are fishing buddies. A fishing buddy is something different and special. They are not just somebody you fish with; they are someone you choose to fish with. You don't take a fishing buddy fishing; you fish with them. It is a collaboration, sort of a symbiotic relationship. When you spend hours upon hours with someone, often with nothing but vacant time between you, a special bond forms. Sitting face to face in a boat or soaking in waders side by side in a river, conversation comes. Things get said, experiences shared. Sometimes a fishing buddy will know things about you that your spouse may not know. Or at least I hope she doesn't.

Dave, Terry and Ed are fishing buddies. Yes, I also consider them friends and we were teaching colleagues for many years. But each shares a place in my fishing life as well. Dave was an early mentor of mine. My first attempts at catching whitefish were with Dave several decades ago, not on Green Bay but on Trout Lake in northern Wisconsin. Dave was with me in the boat when I caught my first legal muskie after many, many years of fruitless attempts. Terry and I have spent countless hours in boats together not catching fish but talking about life, family and the world. We solved many problems. We also caught some fish. I have a magnificent replica mount on my office wall of a massive smallmouth bass I caught while fishing with Terry on Pelican Lake. That is the same lake Terry and I broke ice on in order to cast for muskies one cold late fall day. These are only a few of the fishing moments we shared. Ed and I have shared so many fishing moments, I could not even begin recollect them all without a couple of Jacks to lubricate the memory. Ed and I have experienced the full spectrum of fishing experiences from having muskies throw themselves at us or catching so many bluegills we could not even count them to going several days without even experiencing a bite. Ed and I have fished so many times together that we now just take what comes. Sometimes we catch fish; sometimes we don't. Sometimes I catch a lot of fish and Ed doesn't, often times it is the other way around. Doesn't really matter after a while. That's a fishing buddy.

So it was with great satisfaction that the four of us spent a day together in a ten by ten plywood shack each perched over an eight-inch hole in the ice. We again were making use of the services of J.J.'s Guide Service for an outing on Green Bay. We were in 60FOW about 3 miles off Sherwood Point among the shanty city that forms each winter on the ice. The rods were waiting for us in the warm shack as soon as we got out on the ice. Terry was the first to get in on the action. Dropping his minnow-tipped Rapala jig to the bottom and nimbly "feathering" the rod tip, Terry soon had a nice bow in the rod and put a fat 22"+ whittie on the ice. Dave soon joined the action and was the "hot guy" for a while. Each of us, in turn, shared the spotlight as the whitefish favored one lure or presentation over the other. Even Ed, a self-proclaimed whitefish catching flop, put fish on the ice. We also had time periods when the action waned. It was during these times that we related stories, retold lies and solved the problems of the world. You know, like fishing buddies do.

By the end of the day we had put hooks into sixty or so whitefish and had our forty "keepers" in the cooler. We dropped them off at Lindal Fisheries on County M, where Keona assured us that she would have the filets ready and waiting for us in an hour or so. We took that opportunity to drive over the Greystone Castle in Sturgeon Bay for a bite to eat and couple of cold ones including a Jack for yours truly to lubricate the memories. Picking up our fish, we exchanged handshakes and "man-hugs" assuring each other that we would be getting together again soon. Perhaps. I hope so. Life happens.

What I did take away from the day, beside the fish, was feeling that these guys have altered my life's course in a way I will always be thankful for. I also was reminded that much of what happens between fishing buddies, particularly the important stuff, has little to do with fishing.

Tight lines, Bruce

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