Thursday, May 9, 2013

One Last Blast: BBI 2013

Last weekend winter gave us what we all hope was it's last shot in honor of the Annual Bark Bay Fishing Invitation at CampO in Iron County, WI.  I arrived in Washburn Friday night and was forced to plow 10" of snow in order to get into the garage for some needed equipment organization.  The stated plan was to throw the Delphin on the roof, head to camp, and then meet a couple buddies for some Lake Superior whitewater Saturday at the mouth of the Montreal River, where the normal flow of 3,000cfs was at 7,000cfs plus.  As Mr. R. Burns wrote however, "The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry".

A Chamber of Commerce-like road report on the twisty, hilly, five mile gravel run into camp was issued early Friday by MrSafety, a man who's motto, "If you took time to do everything safe, nothing would get done", has been tested time and again.  Careful research on my part revealed that a culvert was plugged, the creek was flowing across the road, and there were at least two washouts, all disconcerting news for a guy with a front wheel drive VW Jetta wagon.  My caution was prompted by news that the KingOfIronWoodIsland had left his Jetta oil pan on a similar road at the deer camp the weekend before.  Since Jetta oil pan constuction is very similar to those foil turkey roasting pans that we buy around Thanksgiving, I was a bit concerned.  A quick call to camp was answered by RawhidePhil who confirmed that several fishermen had arrived but none in 2WD cars.  Actually one tried but Charlie got stuck a half mile off the blacktop and was forced to walk the rest of the 4.5 miles to camp.  I decided what the hell and headed around the large 'Road Closed' barricade, kept the wheels turning at about 20mph, and blew through the three major obstacle points.  It was one of those drives when, for some reason, you need to turn the radio off to concentrate.  But I made it.

Winter reasserted itself the next morning when my two paddling buddies informed me that an ice storm Friday night in the Bayfield Peninsula had completely destroyed any paddling ardor they had for the Montreal.  I walked out to my car and found that in order to get the kayak straps off my roof rack I would need a hammer to chip the ice off and some other implement to remove the residual ice so the straps could be pulled though the buckles. I thought about it for a minute, did a brief cost/benefit analysis on a solo trip back down the gravel road to the lake, and then walked back in the lodge and poured a generous shot of Knob Creek into my coffee.  The activity for the rest of the day can be gleaned fairly accurately from the accompanying images.  For the first time since 1996 there was ice on the lake, ice that supported ice fishermen I may add.  For the first time that I can remember on opening day of Wisconsin's fishing season, a memory that goes back to roughly 1962, we had a foot of snow in the woods as well.  Enterprising fishermen hit the ice and some of those that didn't grab the auger and jigging sticks headed out on snowshoes.  A substantial majority however, did not venture too far from the keg(s).  Pod brewed an excellent Maibock in honor of the spring that hadn't appeared yet and an extremely laid back day developed at CampO. As usual healthful and nutritious dining took place as well.

I blew out of camp early Sunday morning, picked up the VOR in Washburn and we paddled out of Bayfield toward Basswood Island.  Her new drysuit was tested and other than the inevitable tight neck gasket was given the thumbs up.  I hated missing the Montreal mouth when it was rockin' but rolling with the punches is about all a person can do because the lake and the weather are indeed the boss.  We got a paddle in and there is no such thing as a bad paddle.  There is always next weekend, next week, and next year for those spring activities. Now about that smelt run........

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