Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday morning blues or blah's

Blues or blahs, take your pick. Just after being tempted with nice weather over the past couple of days-despite hail and high winds-here we go with more wind, dropping temperatures and snow. And it sounds like there will be plenty of it too.
Yesterday, Sunday, there was a great turnout for the annual Kayak tune up day held at "kayak fish the great lakes" headquarters.
Not much work was done. Rather a lot of talk about getting on the water sooner rather than later, exchange of ideas on how to carry tackle, how much is too much, and what is new that anglers can't do without.
The annual No-Mo kayak fishing tounrament that benefits Make-A-Wish will be held May 18 at first light. Any lake in the state with public access is considered tournament water.
Didn't catch any fish? Not to worry says tournament director, Chris LeMessurier. "You can buy some raffle tickets and possible get drown for a new Wilderness Systems kayak," he said.
For more information or to register visits kayakfishthegreatlakes.com.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Grump may be gone but not forgotten

We weren't particularly close. Once in awhile we would talk about the neighborhood, people we both knew, our kids and his favorite topic, old cars.
He was tagged with a nickname that fit his expression, Grump. He just looked like Grump but he didn't show that side of his personality, if indeed he was a grump. Serious, yes. Grumpy, I don't think so.
Saturday was one of those days we like to think about when the snow is flying, snow blowers drown out all the sound on your street or road and you come in to warm up, grab a coffee, then head out to finish moving the snow.
This past Saturday was different. It was eerily quiet in our neighborhood. As I sat in the backyard mentally going over my chore list, I noticed how quiet it was.
The birds were the only thing making noise. Looking for mates, arguing over bird seed or nesting territory, they were busy little things.
This Saturday was different. There weren't the sounds of circular saws chomping on a board or a drill or router with their high-pitched noise biting into wood.
No hammers banging the heads of nails, or leaf blowers clearing the yard of the accumulation of last falls leaves.
It was common knowledge in the neighborhood that Grump had been diagnosed cancer and was given-at best-two years to live.
He met that challenge head on. He told me about it once but was matter of fact when he described it. I  was surprised at what seemed to me, his acceptance of his situation at this juncture in his life.
From time to time we would wave as we passed on the road. Every so often I would wander over to talk with him when he was tinkering in the garage or yard.
Asked how he was feeling, he would usually turn the question around with one of his own. "Well, how are you feeling," was his usual response.
Grump passed away this fine, sunny, unusually quiet morning. His passing reminded me once again how precious this life is.
It also reminded me of my health, dealing with cancer. My doctor at U of M now refers to me as cancer free. I'm a survivor.
But she also reminds me that I had an aggressive form of bladder cancer and that there is a good chance it will return sometime. Therein lies the reason for me to be checked four times a year.
Cancer is nasty and not something to be taken lightly. I think of mine almost daily. The group I meet with each week at Gilda's club has the same feelings.
All of us do our own personal check daily. On waking, I lie there for a minute to see if anything hurts or if there are any new pains I hadn't noticed the previous day.
Each bump, bruise, fall, or different sensation that are all quite normal to most people, are scary to cancer patients. We all think, "here I go again."
I don't know if Grump had these feelings. I'm sure it was rough sledding as he went along. His caregivers-wife Joan and all his buddies that dropped in from time to time-are all feeling a sense of loss this day.
In one way, we think it's a blessing and that he is in a better place, pain free at last. On the other hand, there is a void left in the lives of those remaining who were close or cared for Grump until the end.
It reminds me to be grateful for each day I have and to be thankful that, at least for the moment, I'm both pain free and cancer free.
As this day goes by and others follow, I'll be reminded of the guy they called Grump and remember him along with others during my nightly prayers.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Signs of spring

I always look for red wing blackbirds and listen for their songs. That is my most telling sign that spring has arrived. They have shown up in my backyard scattering bird seed hither and yon.
Going out to get the paper the one morning, I noticed night crawlers on the drive following an overnight shower.
The annual No-Mo fishing kayak tournament set for May 18 is right around the corner. In fact several of us are getting together this weekend to work on boats, add new gadgets, and exchange war stories of past tourneys.
This year will be the fifth annual to benefit Make-A-Wish foundation. So far $4,000 has been raised.
I've fished all but one of the events and haven't brought anything in to be considered as prize worthy.
There is no official weigh in at this event. Called a CPR-catch, photograph, release-tournament, the angler brings in his camera with an SD card showing the fish laying on an official ruler. So far, I've turned my ruler in each year, dry as a bone.
Any boat that is propelled by paddle is allowed in this event. To enter go to www.kayakfishthegreatlkes.com and download the entry form or send an email to Chris LeMessurier at chris@kayakfishthegreatlakes.com.
See you on the water.
Kayaker landing a salmon

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Those that knewJoe Zikewich lost a true friend, consummate fisherman, and devoted patriot

The V.F.W. hall in Oxford held an overflowing crowd showing their respects to the man nicknamed Ice Flow Joe.
Joe got the moniker from the many times he had been rescued by helicopter from ice floes on Lake St. Clair that had broken loosed and were headed downstream to Toledo.
Proud of his country and his service during WWII aboard the USS Lexington, Joe often talked about the war and the time a Japanese Kamikaze struck the ships flight deck killing 43 and injuring 237. "There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of those guys," Zikewich used to say. In their memory, he always wore a piece of shrapnel from the plane that crashed into the ship.
If you're ever in Lake Orion, take a couple of minutes and visit the memorial to service personnel on M-24. There you will find the "Peacoat Memorial," a vision Zikewich had to remember those lost not only on the Lexington but in their service to the country.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Iffy ice can bring on those spawners

I wouldn't go out on the ice the rest of the year, at least until next winters freeze  up. Some reports say there are two feet of good ice left. I don't want to be the one to test it.
Last year, at am annual fun fishing outing I went through in deep water. Fortunately for me it was a whole someone had cut. Blowing snow covered it so I didn't see it until my leg went through to my waist.
Scrambling around trying to get some purchase on the slick ice to pull myself back out, my fishing companions didn't hear me shouting for help and they weren't a great distance away. My days fishing ended back at the cabin in front of the stove trying to get dried out.
This Sunday you'll read about Paul Biedieger from Wolverine lake who gave up ice fishing, hooked his trailer to his tow vehicle and pulled his kayak to South Carolina to fish in the second Kayak Bass Fishing tournament.
Even then, in 60-plus degree weather, he managed to get wet when an unexpected visitor came aboard his Hobie Mirage kayak.
Read all about it in my column this Sunday. (photo is of Chris LeMessurier with a nice salmon in warmer times.)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ice Flow Joe Zikewich will be missed

I can't say the news about Joe Zikewichs' death wasn't surprising. He had been in a nursing home for some time and was declining almost daily.
The strange thing was what put him in a nursing facility relegated to a bed instead of a bucket on the ice of Lake St. Clair.
Joe had been ice fishing. Sometime during what turned out to be his last outing, he slipped on the ice and fell, breaking his hip which turned into pneumonia.
A memorial will be held in his honor and memory March 29 at the Veteran's Hall on Drahner Road in Oxford beginning at 3p.m.
I'm not sure how Joe would react to all of the attention he's been receiving since his passing. He was always on the other end, the end that was doing something nice for others. Now it's his turn to have something nothing done for him in terms of remembering him.
A proud Navy veteran, Joe served as a radioman aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lexington. Coincidentally, I was a radioman on the USS Topeka, a guided missile cruiser that operated with the Lex.
Since there are so many stories about the man known as ice Flow Joe I'll get mine in. We were fishing  off a DNR ramp in Harrison Township. joe had a large ATV with all sorts of equipment on it.
"Hop on and we'll drive out," he said. "I don't have a helmet," i responded. "Ah, don't worry. No one will bother us?
So we road out, cut some holes and fished for several hours. When it came time to come in, we loaded up and made the drive.
Once on the ramp we headed for joe's trailer. About that time we ran into the biggest CO I have ever seen.
"How ya doin'," Joxesaid in his high pitc
Joe Zikewich loaded for ice fishing
hed voice. The three of us chatted for a few minutes before the CO said he had to get going. "You guys be sure and wear helmets next time you're out," he said.
"We sure will," Joe answered.
That was the Joe i knew always with a gift for gab. He go the name Ice Flow Joe for being rescued off floating ice in the middle of Lake St. Clair. Once he had such a inch catch that he stuck them inside his parka and bibs not wanting to leave them behind.
As his regular fishing pal Glenn Uhl said, "I'm going to missing. We all are going to miss a great fisherman." And a wonderful human being.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Beat the winter-Paul Biedieger did

Many northerners, Michiganders among them, choose to head someplace where it's warm over the winter months. This past year, if you were one of the "snow bird set" you would have missed the November 15 deer opener if you were Florida bound.
                                         (Paul Biedieger in action during last year's KBF tournament)

That's because snow and cold weather actually set in late in October and hasn't quite given up it's grip on us yet although warmer weather is beginning to be predicted.
Wolverine Lake resident Paul Biedieger is one of those that headed south, specifically to South Carolina. Not so much to get out of the snow and cold but to fish in the second annual Kayak Bass Fishing Tournament. You might say he wanted to open the bass season a little early.
Biedieger fished the same tournament last year but under a different format requiring him to qualify before getting into the big show or final day. He not only qualified but finished quite well considering it was his first such tournament.
His performance also got him a spot in this year's tournament on Santee Cooper Reservoir near Cross, South Carolina.
Boats and anglers from all around the country participated this year. They had great weather along with really good fishing.
"I caught at least 14 good fish each day and threw that many or more back," Biedieger wrote. Now if the ice would thaw, warm rains would move in and temperatures would move up those of us that fish or just paddle for the sake of getting out, could begin to enjoy local waters once again.
Sooner or later, it's bound to happen here. Fishing may be set back a little, but in no time we'll be wetting lines and trying out those new baits we've acquired over the winter.