Sunday, August 13, 2006

Trip of the Day

After church today, we decided to make a run to Olga Lake.

We live exactly a quarter of a mile from the southern edge of the Manistee National Forest. Olga Lake is perhaps five miles of forest road (trail) from our house. Since we need to use the big Jeep Grand Wagoneer more in order to get some confidence with the recent repairs (rebuilt engine and transmission, refurbished transfer case), we decided to drive the old beast over there.

We had to run around collecting the fishing gear and getting the worms out of the refrigerator, but we were soon on the trail.

Olga Lake is a shallow lake that collects water from the surrounding swamps... I mean wetlands. (That's the politically correct term, right?) Since swamps are nature's filters, the water that gets into the lake is pretty clean. This helps a lot, since most shallow lakes are rather muddy and murky.

We drove up past the National Forest Camp Ground and the boat ramps and drove down a trail along the north edge of the lake. There is a very nice (unofficial) camp area that seems to get a decent amount of use. I had found it a couple years ago, and forgot how nice it was there.

Paul was the first to catch a fish because he was pretty well prepared to go just as soon as he got out of the Jeep. He's the fisherman of the family.

In case you're wondering, what the kids mostly caught were bullhead. I believe they were brown bullhead, but I'm not an expert on the local catfish breeds, and I didn't bring a book to identify them.

The boy is definitely having fun!

Don's latest obsession is putting a survival kit together. He wants to buy a knife with a hollow handle from an advertisement Boys' Life Magazine so that he can make a survival kit. If he manages to rekindle this interest once he gets older, we may let him try to do a real test. He has to get a lot of wilderness camping (using regular gear) under his belt first, though.

Anyhow, in keeping with his interest du jour, he begged some fishing line and a hook from me, and made his own pole. He was successful, of course.

In fact, he seems rather pleased with his success.

Pretty much everyone got in on the action. I didn't get a fishing license this year, so I sat back and enjoyed the view.

The pretty purple flower is the infamous purple loostrife. Many people hate this plant and are doing their level best to eradicate it because it is such an invasive weed.

That is, it's invasive in some areas. There are areas where the conditions suit it so well that it crowds out the native species. That's what I hear, anyhow. I have yet to see it crowd anything out. In fact, good 'ol native cat tails do most of the crowding. In their favor, cat tails provide lots of food and shelter for native animal species (and whatever humans know enough to harvest them).

So, I don't hate purple loostrife. It adds a touch of color, and our tough Michigan weeds do a good job at keeping it in its place.

So anyhow, everyone is enjoying the fishing trip.

I tried to sit back and enjoy the view, but I kept getting roped into the task of removing fish from hooks, or removing hooks from fish, or whatever. I also removed one hook from Don's shirt, while Mary removed one from Gabe's flesh (not sunk past the barb, fortunately).

For those who don't know, there are some hazards to messing with catfish. The dorsal and pectoral fin bones are very sharp. There's a trick to holding the fish without getting jabbed. I tried to teach that trick to the rest of the family, but they were only too happy to let me handle the slimy things. (By the way, one of the reasons I don't fish much is because I don't really like handling the slimy smelly things.) Luckily for me, someone had left a bar of soap by the lake shore. I made use of it a few times.

After a while, it was time to dump the bucket of live fish back into the water. There was some talk of eating the fish, but I implemented the "you catch, you clean" rule, and everyone agreed that we would eat hamburgers tonight.

So, back up to the trusty Jeep...

And back home.

It used to be that a trip like this would be a rarity saved for vacations. Now, heading up there is no big deal. Now that I remember how nice the lake is, we'll be going more often. My previous experience was tainted by the fact that it was hot and buggy at the time. Now, we are at the time of the year when the temperatures are nice and the bugs are generally not bad at all. We didn't get one mosquito or fly bite today.


I guess I should mention that I did, in fact, get to veg in my camp chair and watch the lake. Mary made more use of the binoculars than I did, though. There were some loons out on the lake, and Mary enjoyed checking them out. It looks like one pair of loons still has a baby (loonling?) in tow.


Anonymous Wendy from Blessings said...

(loonling?) ROFLOL!!
Is that really what they are called or is that a "Rayism"?

12:27 PM  
Blogger Nerd in the Country said...

I had to come up with something, didn't I? What else would you call it? It's not a keet or chick or duckling, so why not 'loonling'?

12:21 AM  

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