It’s Sunday morning. Just before dawn. I can still taste the blackberry brandy. The sweetness is gone. Replaced by a hangover. A few deep breaths of icy air settles my stomach for a few minutes.
Branden ran back to the house to get the spud. I stand alone on the ice enjoying the silence. Listening to delicate snowflakes land on earth. Matched only by the small air-pump hanging on the minnow bucket.
It went by so fast. It seemed like 15 minutes ago John and I threw down $400 at Costco for a weekend worth of food and beer. Now it’s all over. Just empty beer cans rattling around in the back of my truck. Which smells like a bar, pike, trout and old bait. I already miss it.
I’ve fished the Lost Lake Woods Club Trout Derby for almost 20 years. February just doesn’t seem right without it. I host a big group of friends and family for a few days of ice fishing at my folks cabin. We shave our beards in ridiculous fashion. We fish. Eat. Drink. Fish some more. And then start drinking again.
It’s where we’ve made a thousand memories. Like my first trout through the ice. Or Bert’s adventure with 100 proof Hot Damn, cheap whiskey and a vigorous shanty hauling session which ruined his white sweater. Or Dad’s back-pocket, Apple Pucker body slam. All thanks to a small lake stocked with trout in the middle of the woods in the middle of winter.
This year, the derby weekend just seemed to evaporate. Maybe it’s the anticipation. Maybe I’m getting older. But it seems like the moments I get to share with the people I love and doing the stuff I love to do just can’t last long enough. Then again, that’s probably what makes those moments worth remembering in the first place.
At least I have the pics and videos to get me to next year. And Jim’s tailored “neck-beard” will have me laughing for months. Enjoy this tribute video to our 2012 Trout Derby weekend.
Thanks to Julie Krenz for some of the pics.