The weather has been relatively hot in Nebraska the past couple of weeks, but the calendar says it is fall. The calendar is not wrong. The fall bite has started and I have been trying to spend as much time on the water as possible the past several weeks. Some evenings, as I stand in the water waiting for a big fish, my mind wanders back to autumns past, of fish caught and memories made.
I guess I am old enough that my kids roll their eyes when I start to tell some of my memories/stories. If I write them here on my blog, at the least I do not have to watch that. I wrote about Badger Chips a couple of years ago, this is a bit different recipe. . . .
I learned a long time ago that standing in the water throwing crankbaits can be a great way to catch walleyes in the fall; some of the biggest walleyes a person can catch. I have spent a lot of time doing that on a variety of waters in a couple of states over the years. Have shared that experience with many different fishing partners including a brother-in-law. Took my sister’s husband, Rick, on a trip several years ago to catch some ‘eyes up in SoDakota.
We camped out in Rick’s old tent. The brand of tent was “Hillary”. It was not funny then; still is not funny. Of course it had a pole or two that had been bent and broke. It took a stick of just the right diameter and length to fit inside the broken pole; only then could the tent be raised properly. Good thing there was an abundance of trees where we camped.
As I recall the first night we fished was slow, really slow. Late that night I caught one big walleye, but that was it.
The next day we did some scouting, checked out some spots that had produced before. We walked down to one of my favorite spots, fished for a bit, and then quit to get an early supper before fishing the evening bite. I told my brother-in-law we needed a good, hot meal because that evening it was going to be “on”–“On like Donkey Kong”. I do not think he believed me, but from past experience I knew the weather and water conditions were perfect for the spot we were going to fish, the baitfish were present, and after dark the big toothy predators we wanted to catch were going to be there too. They were.
After the hearty supper, we carried a thermos of hot tea down onto the beach along with a Tupperware full of brownies that my wife had sent along on the trip. We left those on the beach and waded out to fish. After standing in the water catching fish for awhile, an evening brownie and sip of hot tea would keep us going.
Sometime after catching the 23rd walleye, an hour or two after dark, we could hear some commotion on the beach behind us. We could hear Tupperware being knocked around. Raccoons were after our brownies! But, we were catching fish and figured we did not have to worry because after all, raccoons could not open Tupperware.
After catching and releasing more walleyes, we discovered that was wrong.
As we waded back onto the beach, back to our hot tea and brownies, a gaze of raccoons parted in front of us. There lay our Tupperware container, topless, with only a handful of brownies left inside. Kindly, the ‘coons had left some for us. Brownie crumbs littered the beach. I do not know and do not care if raccoons slobbered on the remaining brownies to mark them as their own; we ate them anyway. Guess I never developed rabies or distemper, but some evenings I do have a hankering for chocolate-covered crawdads. My brother-in-law has seemed to be a little bit strange, but he has always been that way (he is Pennsylvania Dutch).
We brought those brownies along for an evening snack on a cool, fall night, and we were darned sure going to gulp those we could before the raccoons did. As we stood on the beach savoring the few brownies that were left, we could hear footsteps and rustling in the leaves. Flipping on a light revealed 247 raccoon eyes reflecting back at us (one raccoon had a patch over his left eye, I am pretty sure he was the gang leader). Those bandits watched nearby as we ate brownies and sipped hot tea. We were surrounded by slobbering ‘coons. Advancing a few steps in their direction would cause a retreat, but they would not leave.
After relaxing a bit, at least as much as we could relax with 124 hungry raccoons spying on us, we finished eating our brownies and sipping tea, and then grabbed the spinning rods and waded back into the water. The Tupperware with a remaining brownie or two was safely tucked into a spindly little cottonwood sprout as far as we could reach above the ground (I even boosted my B-I-L higher up on my shoulders).
We went back to catching fish. The Tupperware immediately came down. The raccoons slicked up the rest of the brownies. I swear there was raccoon laughter on the beach behind us. We did not care.
Thank goodness they could not get the lid off of my Stanley thermos.
Evening snacks are now carried safely on my person.
My brother-in-law, sister, nephews and niece now live in Montana. Rick and I have not shared a fall evening on the water for a long time. As I write this, several of them are deep in the Gallatins bowhunting wapiti. A trail cam left at their camp during the day while they are chasing elk has revealed that the brownie-robbing ‘coons are quite a bit larger and more grizzly than those we encountered years ago. I am pretty sure the Tupperware gets hung quite a bit higher there.