MERLE HAGGARD PASSED away the other the day and I can’t say I was really a fan but I have heard of him. Pretty sure we don’t have any of his music in the jukebox at the Lodge but I am also pretty sure we do have a couple of eight tracks of his music hidden away somewhere. Back in the seventies when my buddy Chuck and I drove all over Fish County in my ¾ Chevy pickup with the bed rack that carried the 12’ Jon Boat and the 7.5 hp Clinton outboard we would stop at resorts and his music always seemed to be playing. Of course that was back in the days where just about every lake had at least one resort and sometimes two. Nothing like today where if you asked where the resort was someone would point out a vacant spot along the shoreline and say that is where it used to be.
We both worked the night shift back then which left our days and afternoons open for fishing or hunting grouse or in the best of times we could do both on a fall afternoon. Always in search of new water we would drive down good looking grouse roads to find small lakes hidden out of sight and most of the time a small resort would be at the end of the road. Usually a ma and pa place ran by a retired couple of who catered to a few locals and some repeat customers. Long before GPS and overhead mapping we would look through our well worn and tattered plot book to try and figure out where we were. Wearing tee shirts and shorts and tennis that had seen better days me with my long red hair and Chuck with his blond hair we would get a few looks when we climbed down from the truck. We would have to past inspection by the resort's dog or dogs before heading to the resort screen door which almost always open into a dark small bar with a juke box playing either Country or Western music as that was the only kind of music played out there.
We would exchange HIYA’s with the owner and he would watch us from behind the bar as we sipped on a soda or a beer depending on where the sun was in the sky that day. We would go through that feeling out process as we tried to find out if there were bass in the lake and where were the big ones. If we were getting good information we would order the cheeseburger basket and I don’t think we were ever disappointed by the size of the burger or the crispy French fries. Before you know it we would be exchanging lakes and talking of the places we had explored. The owner would talk about meaning to get around to fishing such and such lake but he was always to busy working on his own place. That is how we learned that if we ever wanted to keep fishing never buy a resort.
Some lakes we didn’t fish but a lot of them we did. The Jon boat would come off the truck rack and the gas tank put inside. Clinton tighten onto the transom and the small trolling motor attached to the bow. We would push off and go try out the spots on the lake that were pointed out but we would also hit the spots where no one ever caught any fish, funny how sometimes we did pretty good in those dead spots. Keeping an eye on the clock we would fish till we ran out of time. A lot of days we barely made it back home to clean up and get to work on time. Some lakes we return to fish a second time, some lakes I still fish today. Most of them no longer have resorts or small bars with cheeseburger baskets. Lucky for us we still have the Lodge at Lake Iwanttobethere
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