We both had a rougher night of sleep as the winds and the rains would keep us awake and finally we rolled out of bed around 7 am to make breakfast and prep the lunches for the anticipated full day on the water. While the rain showers were spotty the real issue were the winds. Forecasts called for 15-30 mph gusts, cloudy and some rain showers. The real forecast was 15-20 mph sustained winds with gusts that felt at times up to 40 mph. The wind was SSW and from the launch didn’t appear very bad, but once we got to the islands white caps could be seen varying between 1-2′. Only one other fisherman I saw was on the water, he arrive at 7:30 and was walking out with his float tube. We briefly exchanged conversation and he never moved all day. He was anchored up near the reeds on the South East corner of the lake and seemed content fishing chironomids.
Sean B. and his son Mattox showed up just after 08:30 with his sights set on fishing a new lake and showing his son a good time. That good time wouldn’t be the case as he should’ve not made the decision to venture out in his raft with no oarlocks and rigid rowing frame. A bad combination of too much weight and a 7 year old aboard with those winds ended up with trouble.
The winds carried them into the Northeast corner of the lake and pinned them up against the reeds. Phil and I didn’t see this as we thought he was slowly rowing towards us as we fished from the bigger island, roll casting under the heavy gusts and fishing Chironomids in 7-8′ of water. I caught 6 fish in the spot.
I then heard Sean yelled and waiving his hands, “help!”… I thought, oh no… here we go… He said he was losing air on the raft and both he and his son were getting anxious as they could do nothing to get out of this predicament. I quickly dropped the rod, got into the pram after unloading the rods and our cooler.
I nosed the bow into the raft and told Sean to get his son aboard and would shuttle him to the island where Phil was waiting. I’d then row back out to get Sean and tow his raft back to the island. They were content there, but the fishing slowed and we went back out to double anchor up without much success of holding as the winds were relentless. I still caught fish, but was a little tougher staying in one spot.
We hoped the winds would calm down enough so that Phil could row Sean and Mattox back to the launch, however that never happened as Phil couldn’t control the winds and even make it out beyond the islands. I waived him back and decided that we couldn’t leave them much longer as they were getting tired and hungry and being fishless was not a good introduction to Lake Lenice.
I told Sean to deflate the raft and load up as much as we could in back on the pram, Mattox would stand behind the transom seat while Sean seated would help balance the pram while providing a little rocker for the winds. I decided to bust out and was greeted with water spray, and lots of it from breaching water from the winds and the oar strokes. We never made it to the launch, but I powered through to the boulders where at least they were safe and on the right side of the lake. We’d have to unload the heavy raft and gear and then come back with a second trip to deliver a couple other parts of the raft that wouldn’t fit including two hard floor sections and the seat on frame.
My arms were toast as every stroke counted and the second round had to row Phil back as I didn’t want the possibility of failure or danger should a weak rower make a wrong oar stroke. I took a different strategy for the second crossing, navigating the islands to the north as much as possible to get as high up west along the northside of the lake to then quarter downwind so we wouldn’t blow past the launch. It worked, but by now, my rhomboids, bicceps, lower back were all burning up. A heck of a good workout, but not what I was expecting…
My plan was to continue to fish, and I told Phil he could go back to camp or press on. He hadn’t landed a fish all day and was getting frustrated. If you don’t change up, you won’t catch fish. He was fishing a 9′ leader and was ‘stuck’ on the same bug as it had produced for him the day before. After fishing side by side, and watching my indicator dive time after time. I told him to change up, but his frustration would lead me to add more fluro to his leader, re-tie his same bug and have him cast out. Within minutes of the slight change up, he was into his one and only fish of the day. At least it wasn’t a skunking! The class of fish caught were all very good 16-18”, healthy, fat, and full of energy. I ended the day with 26 fish to hand, and many more popped hooks and one that broke the 6# tippet.
Tired and hungry, we decided to pack up with our sights set on Sunday, when the reports of wind were supposed to lay down but the rains would be a factor. After an awesome dinner of grilled chicken, and epic campfire, we melted away into the slumber.