Today's writing prompt from the Outdoor Blogger Network is asking us to write about an experience with "damaged goods" regarding our outdoor gear. Now, I could write about many things, unfortunately. Falling on ice and breaking my rod, dropping my reel and bending the handle, breaking my zipper of my wading pants and not being able to get them off...(stop laughing, it really wasn't very funny!) ...the list goes on and on! But, the experience with "damaged goods" that effected me the most happened on my pontoon. It was a summer day that was one of my better catching days on the Strawberry Reservoir near Heber City, Ut. We started early at 6 a.m. like usual. There was a slight breeze, but ever so slight. A partly cloudy day that seemed like a good fishing day. After I put my pontoon together with my equipment on board and put my motor on the back, I added the oars to the sides. Then, came my fish finder. And I was off! (It's a bit of work!) I had gone with a friend, since I don't believe in ever going to a lake alone. Too many factors out there that can play into an accident on the water. I had been out for about three hours and noticed that my friend wasn't so close by anymore. That didn't give me a great feeling, but I didn't panic either. As I trolled around the bay where I was at, I came across some very high weeds which got into my motor. I have a Minolta 38 lb. thrust and it was only maybe the third or fourth time that I had taken it out. The blades were absolutely stuck and I couldn't raise it out of the water to work on it. I finally turned it off as I thought it would be better to row out of the weeds and then start it again and flush it out.
As I struggled to break free of all the extra greenery...the wind started to pick up. Oh, that was not a good thing at all! You see, Strawberry is a very large lake. It has 17,000 surface acres...And if the wind picks up and you aren't close to shore, well it will pick up your watercraft and blow it farther away into the middle of the lake...My attempts of trying to free the weeds were in vain. It had been tangled up too badly. It was dead. So, I decided to take the oars and try to head to the closest piece of ground and walk back to camp which was quite aways now. But, the wind was too strong and whipped across like a vengeance! Any progress that I had made, the wind pushed me back again. My only hope was that my friend (wherever they were) would get some help for me. I was out on the water trying to get back to land for two more hours. Finally, by some miracle and that is excactly what it was...a small speed boat saw my orange flag that I did have with me. I flagged him down, he threw me a rope, and brought me back to shore. That was the quickest trip I ever had in my 'toon!! I know that I could have rowed back in any smaller lake here in Utah. But, the Strawberry is one that you just don't fool with in any type of bad weather and especially the wind. All ended well, with my motor cleared of any obnoxious weeds. I now go to smaller lakes where I have a chance of getting back more quickly if bad weather happens to arrive unexpectedly...And I fish the Strawberry onshore or in smaller bays that I can't get blown out of!! It still gives me a smile on most days as it has tremendous cutthroats, rainbows and kokanee salmon...And most of the time, the fish are between 16 and 28 inches...So, yes, I do go back! : ) Just under a new set of rules.