Thursday, April 9, 2009
I'm not sure if it's the tenth year anniversary yet, but Jake and I first headed up to Eagle Lake when we were a few years out of high school to meet his uncle Steve. Steve couldn't tell us enough about the size and fighting ability of these acrobatic rainbows. Some of the hardiest fish in the world due to the high alkalinity of the water, an Eagle Lake trout can survive in nearly any other suitable body of water, while other trout transplanted here inevitably perish. If you've caught a hatchery fish anywhere in California, chances are pretty good it came from this natural place.
Steve showed us the slip-bobber and worm threader and we were on our way to big, muscular trout. We caught four the first morning. Jake caught a nice one with a $10 dollar tag on it. When we took off, I noticed them bouncing behind the boat. I yelled to Steve but it was too late, and wouldn't you know it, the money fish was gone from the stringer. We ran into one guy who saw the grins on our faces and called us over to him. He whispered in our ears like a junkie introducing us to heroine, "you know fellas, these trout have shoulders", that was it.
In the last decade, the goal has never changed, to catch heavy limits, but our methods of camping have definitely become more modern. The group has grown and morphed into different tribes many times over the years. Steve and his gang still monopolize a large circular camp area; the wagons that might have surrounded it in the old days have given way to fourwheel drive trucks hauling fishing boats with rods and nets standing at attention like a fisherman's flag. Pattyo and his wife Suzanne "Red" inhabited a large travel trailer and his brother, always the entrepreneur, rents a house with his family and his parents. Last year we all stayed together. Around midnight, just as everyone was settling down to get a few hours of shut eye before the early morning wake-up, we heard a fumbling on the porch. Everyone went into intruder mode. Archie the body-builder launched himself onto the porch to confront the intruder. We all followed diligently toting mag-lights and fire-pokers to open a good can of "whoop ass" on the uninvited guest.
"What the *^&% are you doing here?"
"I'm just looking for my friends. I'm lost." replied the young and obviously inebriated wayfarer.
Disappointedly, everyone let their guard down slightly. It appeared that no one was going to be needing their weapons. The night was black as charcoal and the young man appeared more pathetic than threatening.
"Where am I?" asked the drunkard.
"You're at Eagle Lake, Spaulding Tract"
"You mean this isn't Blue Lake?"
It's amazing how alcohol can transform a perfectly normal college student into a suspected alien, beamed down to earth just to confuse everyone and ruin the few hours of sleep that Eagle Lake fisherman all outwardly dismiss and secretly covet.
"No, you're a long way from Blue Lake mister. How the hell did you wind up here?"
"My buddies and I were heading to blue lake."
We went round and round like this for what turned into hours. It started seeming more and more plausible that this guy was dropped off by an alien spacecraft. He couldn't remember for sure his friends names, where they were staying or how he got here.
"All I know is that we lined up shots and then my buddies disappeared".
I noticed he was shivering and brought him a blanket. Brian slipped away and called the Sheriff. Archie scrolled through the aliens cell phone and had long conversations with members of the Aliens family, none of whom seemed too surprised that he might find himself on a random porch on a random lake, drunk as a skunk with a group of complete strangers.
Finally the sheriffs deputy arrived after an hour-long drive from Susanville. The long conversations with his relatives (some of them long lost I'm sure) must've sobered him up or triggered something in his brain. He remembered that the cabin he was staying in had a cone shaped roof and a flag. The sheriff knew the place, it's located about a half-block away from the Eagle Lake Bar and Grill. Our cabin was at least a mile away in near complete darkness. Next time we're going to shut off the porch light a little earlier.