août 27, 2010
This story goes back a few weeks, but it's worth telling here. Each year, we bring in some new recruits to do an "internship" at Aikens. Usually it is a few guys right out of high school (which ends in late June). They get to spend about six weeks at Aikens helping out with some of the daily jobs, while at the same time learning the lake, the fishery, and the culture here at Aikens. If all goes well, it allows them to step into full-time roles in the "Aikens Family" the following year. This year, we have been training three such recruits. Alex, JB, and Eric (now known to the staff as E2 because we already have an Eric on staff) are here on their first Aikens Experience, and are soaking it all in. They have had a really good time and have helped us out a lot. With such a busy season, it seems like our 10 full-time guides have been on the water constantly, leaving no one to help out on the peninsula to do things like cut the lawn, chop shorelunch & boiler wood, or add woodchips to the trail. The trio has been able to button up all of these things while at the same time learning about guiding and about life at Aikens in general. At any rate, this newsletter item is intended to share a funny story that was spawned from two events on the lake, not on the peninsula. A few weeks back, Eric was fishing at the Honeyhole. As a small walleye was coming in, a mammoth pike grabbed hold. In the panic that ensued, the pike let go of the walleye, but Eric knew that pike was still hungry and looking for a meal. He put on a clown pattern Rapala Husky Jerk and started casting around. On one of his back swings, the lure got knocked off its axis, and when the rod went forward it planted the Rapala squarely into the back of Eric's head! Even with a pinched barb, the hook had grabbed hold of some meat and wouldn't budge. With clenched teeth, Eric put on his bravest face and came back to camp (you can imagine how every ripple the boat hit felt with a hook in your head!) where Pit and Pat were forced to quickly do some haircutting and bush surgery. After the hook was out, everyone was able to share a laugh about the incident. The lure (less one hook) and a lock of hair were returned to Eric as souvenirs of his cast. We told him he should get back on the horse, and to go and get that pike with it! Well, a few days after the surgery Eric was back out at the Honeyhole after his day of work. He was alone and determined to get that clown-pattern rap back in the water. Lo and behold, but what should he catch? Not the pike that had caused him grief, but instead a trophy walleye! His self shots are pretty funny because you can tell he is trying to suppress a giant smile. It was redemption for an incident that will be be shared around campfires for a long time! It's a nice ending to the story of "The Rookie Cast".