Wednesday, June 20, 2012

We're Bachelors, Baby!

The bachelors
Sometimes, a guy’s just got to be a guy. That’s the theme for our annual “We’re Bachelors, Baby” camping trip, where my son-in-law, Terry, and grandsons, Bubba and Muskrat, join me for a guys only weekend. It’s boys behaving badly for forty-eight hours, highlighted with nutritionally incomplete meals, terrible kid-type jokes, fishing and extended periods of time smoking our eyeballs around a campfire.

Fishin’ is the mission on the guys only weekend. We were prepared: spinners, spoons, salmon roe, synthetic bait for the boys, and dry flies, nymphs and leech imitations for the old guys. We fished from shore and canoe. The water was beat to a froth. The bushes along the lake’s shore were eventually festooned with our flies. Terry and I paddled for hours so the boys could troll. Nothing worked. Fish were rising, some good-sized trout even jumped from time to time, but only to laugh at us. One fish – if that’s what it could be called – was caught.

Cocoa and Poptarts - nutritionally incomplete... but good

The one and only "fish" caught... pathetic
For a kid, it is only of minor consequence if the fish are uncooperative. There are other fascinating creatures to be found in a lake; fun things, like leeches. Leeches are cool. They look like little eels when they swim. And even better, leeches suck blood. With that in mind, Muskrat found the annelids irresistible. He became the “Leech Whisperer.” One particularly fine (as far as leeches go) specimen was captured and kept for observation. We named him (or her, take your pick, since leeches are hermaphrodites) Robin… Robin Leech.

Bubba was more into the snails easily found under rocks. We put several in the bowl with Robin. It was then that we discovered leeches have an affinity for escargot. No garlic or fancy trappings for Robin, however, he preferred his tartare, right out of the shell. Hey! We’re all bachelors on this trip, baby!

After hours of plying his best skills, Terry managed to win the bachelor pot for all three categories: first, most and biggest fish caught. We decided to revoke the biggest category on the grounds that, well, the word big couldn't be applied at all.

The Leech Whisperer


When not collecting leeches and snails there were other animals to keep us amused. A family of surf scoters were nesting on the lake. Scoters are actually sea ducks, but apparently nest in fresh water. Once the young are strong enough, Mom, Dad and the kids will all take a trip to the salt water shore line to make a living. It was obvious, even to the most casual observer, the scoters were much more adept at catching fish than the bachelors.

A surf scoter cruises in front of the camps

There was also an active beaver lodge not too far from the campsite.  It was one of two we noted along the lake.  On the outlet stream of the lake there was also a beaver dam.  It had backed water up enough that most of the wild raspberry patch that existed when Bubba's mom was his age had been displaced. It used to yield plenty of berries, but only if you could beat the bears to them. Once the bears worked the patch over, there wasn't much left but flattened plants.

Beaver lodge closest to the camp
The inhabitants of the lodge amused themselves swimming by, dragging various plants to the lodge.  Evidence of the beavers' activities was easy to find.  There weren't many trees standing around the lake, close to the shore. In case you didn't know, beavers are like many other rodents; they need to gnaw on things constantly to keep their teeth worn down. One thing I saw that I wasn't aware of, were spruce trees cut down by beavers.  I didn't know they would cut spruce.  I thought they stuck to willow, cottonwood and alder.

Beaver with a haul of vegetation.


  1. Nice fish! Bigger than any I've caught since we arrived in Alaska.

  2. Robin Leech...masterful...let me guess - Grandpa named him/her/it!