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Making the very most of 45 minutes I had to spare

The transom of the boat gently dipped below the surface of the water. I set the emergency brake and leapt into the boat. The motor fired off with one turn of the key and that heavenly sound of the outboard purred behind me. Soon we were under way.

I was finally able to spend a little time fishing here at home — and when I say a little, I mean it literally. My schedule was so packed last weekend I was able to only allot 45 minutes last Friday evening. That is so sad and pathetic I hesitated to share it. I was determined, though, to make the best of this scant time available to me.

As we idled out of the no-wake zone, I gently pushed the throttle forward. The boat effortlessly lifted and was soon gliding across the glass surface cutting a fine line through the perfect blue in front of us.

Instead of running a distance and wasting time, I pointed the bow towards a stretch of shoreline that has produced countless fish over the years. The surface temp of the lake was reading a bone-chilling 56 degrees. That may not sound cold in print, but dip your hand into it and you would be hard-pressed to hold it there for more than a few moments.

I had already tied on a little crankbait. I love fishing with cranks in the springtime. They can be worked slowly, quickly and around all sorts of thick cover. At the same time, they can cover water and search out fish.

Man, did it feel good to finally be fishing here at home. As I scoured the water in front of me, my mind kept foretelling of warm summer evenings and endless hours of setting the hook. The whole season is in front of us and it is hard to not let images of giant fish work their way into our psyche. I hope I will be able to dedicate a little more than 45 minutes at a time, though.

We entered a small inlet to a secluded bay. The water here was just a slight bit warmer than on the main lake. A significant factor in locating early spring fish. This bay is always one of the first to see spawning fish and I was hoping that history was about to repeat itself.

The first few casts fine-tuned my sense of feel. The vibration and searching action of the lure needs to be just right. If an angler reels too fast or slow, the lure changes action dramatically and doesn’t work as it should. It was hard not to reel too quickly as anticipation of a strike crept through me.

About the 10th cast in this bay, there was something odd, something a little different about the feel. It was just a bit mushy, like pulling a lure through Jell-O that hasn’t quite set up yet. Experience has taught me to respond to slight changes in feel quickly.  

I took my rod and swept it to the side. It loaded up. The resistance on the end was soon confirmed as a living creature when the monofilament cut sharply to the left and soon the telltale pulse of a fish trying to shake loose made its way to my hands.

There is a small moment when fishing where dreams and reality merge together. It is at this point where confirmation of what you hope is on the end of the line either fills you with joy or deflates your anticipation. This moment occurs when you first see the flash of a fish in the water below you. This flash has the ability to stop your heart. This singular moment answers many questions that have just raced through your mind.

As I witnessed that flash I was elated. The fish that gingerly nipped at my crankbait was a solid two pounder. When it first saw the boat a powerful surge pulled downward, but eventually the fish gave up and headed my way.

I carefully grasped it by the mouth, wary of the treble hooks gleaming before me. The body of the fish was so cold. It is no surprise that the initial bite was not vicious as it could have been in the warmer months.  

I admired this first home-caught trophy of the season and then gently placed it back into the cold, clear water from which it had come. In a mighty swipe of the broad tail, it dove down, out of sight.

It was already time to head back. That 45 minutes raced by. I was still thankful, though. It was forty-five minutes well-lived.

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