Every once in a while I come to the realization that I should probably write about a particular subject or incident but don't really want to. This is one of those times.
Therefore, let it be stated here at the outset, that it is with a certain degree of regret that I publicly share details that, perhaps, a more prudent writer would dare not reveal. However, I do so with the assurance that coveted readers of this column can be trusted to secrecy.
The unfortunate incident that I am about to detail occurred little more than one week ago. The day started innocently enough with my daughter and I heading out to Lake Darling for a morning of northern pike fishing. I had the perfect game plan. The night before I had carefully hand selected a small variety of lures that would comprise our offers they couldn't refuse and placed them in a single plastic, lure storage box. I could see no need to crowd the boat with multiple boxes of colorful tackle that never works anyway.
Kim Fundingsland is a staff writer for The Minot Daily News.
I knew the few lures I had chosen, along with a selection of "highly unusual" spinnerbaits that I painstakingly keep secretly secluded from assorted dock gawkers and the like, would be more than enough to fool pike after pike after pike. The morning was absolutely beautiful and my plan was perfect! In a short time we'd set sail and rule the water!
When we arrived at the boat ramp I was pleased to see that only two other boat trailers were parked there. Perfect! That meant we'd arrived early enough to politely show up those who chose a few more minutes sleep over prime fishing time, not that I would ever mention a thing as trivial and meaningless as that.
I made a loop in the parking lot and began backing the trailer down towards the ramp, stopping well short so we could get the boat ready for launching. I pulled the keys from the steering column and my daughter and I opened doors at the same time, mine on the driver's side and hers on the passenger side. I flipped the keys into the cupholder while closing the door and then reached for the back door of the Suburban. Darned if it wasn't locked.
As my daughter and I stood there staring at each other, I could recall the distinct and sickening dull click I heard while closing the driver's door. When I tossed that stupid electronic key fob into the cup-holder it must have landed just right to push the "lock" button. Oops!
No. I don't have the time or the space to explain the whereabouts of a second set of keys. Let's just say they were hanging exactly where I'd left them and leave it at that. Fortunately, I was clever enough to have my always reliable cell phone in my shirt pocket. Unfortunately, we were in a low spot where cell phone service was not reliable.
I climbed a hill in the hopes of getting clear reception. Didn't work. After dialing enough times that I thought the cell phone battery would run down, I found a spot in the parking lot where limited reception was possible. My daughter scraped out a big X so we'd know precisely where to stand in order to make calls.
Through a combination of text messages and partial phone conversations I was able to communicate the intricacies of our little ordeal to a relative in Minot. Funny thing though, each time he began to inquire as to how a wily veteran of the outdoors, such as myself, could let such a thing happen the darned phone reception kept cutting out! Who knows why? I had bigger things to worry about.
A real concern, other than what explanation I could come up with to adequately explain my unscheduled predicament, was that I had dogs kenneled in the back of the Suburban. The morning was reasonably cool and there was cloud cover. However, I knew if clouds gave way to sunshine I'd have to break out a window rather than wait for the temperature to rise. Nearby, a shorefisherman well acquainted with my situation kept smiling and waving a large hammer he carried for the purpose of pounding in rod holders and whacking unruly northern pike. With a kind of spooky grin, he kept saying it would also work for windows.
After spending time skipping stones and watching boat after boat arrive and launch and go fishing, it occurred to me that I had I one fishing rod in the boat's rod locker and a box of seldom used crankbaits in a storage compartment. My daughter was delighted at this news, not that she minded standing around in a gravel parking lot with little to do. In very short order she had snapped on a crankbait and was casting away.
While I was keeping watch on the soon to disappear cloud cover and trying to establish the whereabouts of the cavalry due to arrive with my second set of keys, I heard a shout from the shore. Good! That could only mean my daughter caught something. She did too. There she stood with fishing rod in hand and a huge crawfish stuck to the double-jointed crankbait. The fishermen along the shore saw it too.
Oh well, it was a first and she was happy to have participated. We did have a couple of follows, landed one small pike and one more crawfish before the arrival of my second set of keys - keys that are now secured in a place I can't remember. The dogs were delighted to see the light of day.
The whole sordid affair took more than two hours of fishing time out of day when we only intended to fish for four. We decided to salvage what we could and launched the boat for a brief fishing excursion. I had a hook-up on the first cast and we doubled a minute later. Pike fishing was very good for about 45 minutes until the lake laid down flat. We decided we'd salvaged what we could out of the unusual day and headed back to the dock.
The moral of this story is fish whenever you can and always keep at least one fishing rod outside your vehicle.
Oh, and maybe consider carrying a second set of keys.