This is not a tribute to the Prince song (it is a song I really enjoy though). This is an ode to a special place that helped shape my love of the outdoors which entered my life in the year 1999.
I have talked a lot about my brother Dave within my posts. He is not only my brother but one of my closest friends and someone I admire. He is also a shrewd guy and really the catalyst of this story.
Sometime in 1999 Dave decided that with affordable rent and a good job he was going to invest in lakefront property. He ended up buying a piece of heaven on a small lake in Haliburton and by September of 1999 he took possession. I say he took possession, but I could easily say “we”. There was a crew of us who showed up that first weekend to help him move in and to a degree we never left.
I would guess I spent 80% of my summer weekends at that cottage during the first few years. It was a perfect spot for a bunch of people in their mid 20s. 3 Bedrooms with 5 beds plus lots of couch space. A semiprivate lot with a nice clean shoreline. The lake itself was small and quiet. There were many times I was there during the week when I felt like it was my own private reserve. I remember fondly floating out into the middle of the lake with nothing but a pool tube and a cold one. It was heaven
Best of all it was loaded with fish! To this day the biggest largemouth bass I have ever caught came from this lake on a fishing trip in 2004. It was the home of my PB small mouth up until I went to Brennan Harbour Brennan Harbour Trip Report Its also where I first developed Musky Madness. My cousin Cameron was one of the first to fish the lake (on his honeymoon, in a rowboat) and he got the ball rolling with a beautiful 36-inch fish. Soon I was spending most of my time researching musky and depleting my bank account buying lures. I will never forget the pain of losing 2 $25 lures to the same stump at the start of one of our trolling hotspots.
I could easily write 100 posts from my time at the cottage (and will definitely write more ) but here are a few key things that stand out for me:
Stress Relief - Around the same time the cottage entered my life so did stress. I had started a career, bills needed to be paid and I had responsibilities. Heading up to the cottage on a weekend and getting to spend time on the water, swimming off the dock, walking the dog early in the morning and sitting around a campfire at night turned out to be a salve to soothe all stress related wounds. To this day I still feel such an urge to get outside and “disconnect” Disconnecting Post whenever I feel the need to decompress.
Wacky Rigging – Once I had my own family Dave was nice enough to let us use the cottage for a week every year. While we did well catching bass The Bass that Landed Itself on a bobber in prior years this time around the bass seemed to have figured it out. Looking through my tackle box I had one pack of Yum Dingers and some big offset hooks. My brain tweaked back to an article I had read on “wacky rigging”. With nothing else working I tied on a hook, rigged the Dinger in the middle and cast to a weed bed that typically held a mix of small and largemouth bass. I swear within 2 minutes my line started to move and I set the hook on a nice bass. The rest of the week was just epic. I had so much success I had to run into Haliburton once to restock ($15 for Senkos – ouch) and reload again in Bancroft prior to leaving. Not only did it work that week but over time I have converted a lot of my crowd, my brother most of all! Dave and I are known as the wacky kings among our group of fisherman.
Friendship – There was a regular crew of us who hit the cottage on a regular basis including my folks. There were also golf weekends with the guys I grew up with, epic games of Loo or Poker. Lisa, Graham, Sandy, Nucci, Stover, Willy, Whitey, Cameron, Colin, Tom, Shayne, Mel, Andrea, Robin, Squirrel, House, Tisha, Helen, Bob and so many others I can't name them all. Like the soothing impact of being outside I quickly learned how much it meant to spend time with friends and family. Sure, there was lots of partying but also those moments of being up early and bumping into someone on the deck watching the sun come up over the lake. Going out for that final cigar of the night with someone and the Loon starting to sing its lullaby. Late night boat rides in the Lund just to enjoy stars. If you have read any of the posts from my trips you will realize that our core group is all comprised of the members of the 1999 crew. Putting a Fishing Group Together
The saying goes “All good things must come to an end” and eventually Dave sold the cottage. I want to say it was around 7 year later. As I read 7 years, I think that’s not such a long time however I realize that those 7 years have given me a lifetimes worth of memories (and at least 4 or 5 posts of content )
This summer we tried to fish that old lake w our kayaks but we couldn't find a spot to access without crossing someones no trespassing sign. Maybe you can't go back, so new memories need to be made on new trips on new lakes. I do know however that the memories of 1999 have already lasted 21 years and aren't going anywhere soon