The Berks-Mont News (

Outdoor Snooper: Lost

By Wally Musser, For 21st Centrury Media

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Nice to see you again. In the past several years, I would go to New York to fish with my nephew on the Popactin Reservor. We always fished at night from a boat he had stored on the lake. At that time, you had to carry the equipment needed in and out to have success. Unlike stream fishing, where you can fish in total darkness, you need light to run your tackle and not fall out of the boat. So, a Coleman lantern is hung at each end of the boat. Our bait was the natural Sow-belly minnow that inhabited the lake.
Using two rods apiece, the minnows are hooked through the back and lowered to a depth of 10-20-30-40 feet. At the end of each rod is a clicker that tells us when a fish has taken the minnow and is swimming away. Most of the brown trout that are caught range in weight from two to ten pounds, with the possibility of a 20+ pounder being hooked. The action is usually in spurts, catch a couple trout, then watch the sowbelly minnows that are attracted by the lights, swim around the boat by the 100’s -- no - by the 1,000’s.
The boat was anchored in a slightly different way. An anchor with a floating line attached, was lowered to the bottom, maybe 200 feet. Where the line comes out of the water, a plastic gallon jug is attached. The floating line is fed out until the boat is 30-40 yards from the jug, then tied to the boat This was done to keep the anchor rope away from the boat so any fighting fish wouldn’t get snagged.
On most nights, a low mist to a thick fog covers the water. Since the boat is on a long float anchor line, it is free to move and you can lose all sense of direction. A little concerned with the fog, I asked my nephew if he had a compass. His reply was, “Sure do - also know the direction of every shore, especially the one we’re headed for.” One particular foggy night when the fish must have been at the other end of the lake, we sat for several hours with nothing more to do then catch the bait fish that swam around the boat, attracted by the two lanterns. Every once in a while a noise that sounded like someone rowing with a squeaky oar lock would come and go.
All of a sudden a voice in a sound of desperation yelled, “Anybody there?” I looked up as a boat occupied by a single angler, slid out of the f og, almost like the pirate ships in the movies, almost ramming us broadside. His first words were “Am I glad to see you guys! Been rowing around in the fog for an hour. Thought my compass was in my jacket pocket, but I can’t find it. My lantern went out and I couldn’t get it started!”
My nephew interrupted and asked where he was headed. “To the upper cove landing,” was his reply. “You’re about a mile down the lake,” said my nephew, as he took out his compass. Taking a reading he replied “The shore is in that direction, and there’s a cliff about 200 yards from here. Can you row straight?” “I hope so,” said the lost fisherman. Still looking at his compass, my nephew said, “You row in that direction, as straight as you can and yell every five or ten seconds. When you get to the shore, yell, “I found the shore, then follow the shore line to the cove.” “Ok,” said the angler. “I hope I don’t see you guys again,” as he disappeared into the fog. We yelled a number of times. Finally, a distant voice yelled, “I found the cliff -- thank you!”
By the time the episode was over, it was early in the morning -- 4 a.m. We caught a few more trout, all two - three pounders, then pulled anchor and headed for shore and breakfast. While eating our bacon and eggs at the local diner, a sad looking fisherman came in, sat down, and began to relate a tale of woe while talking to the waitress. This must have been our lost fisherman. I asked him if he had that squeaky oar lock. Smiling, he said, “You’re the two guys who saved my life!” Needless to say our breakfast was on him.
See you next time.