Fourth of July trip offers surprises, excitement
It was the 4th of July and it was a reunion of sorts on the water. Capt. Mike Johannes of On the Rocks Charters, who operates his 39-foot Sea Ray out of Wilson, had a few hours available on this explosive holiday and we decided to meet at 6 a.m. at his boat. It should have been earlier but getting family up early after a “surprise visit” and late night the day before was not easy.
My oldest grandson, Brad Poeller and his wife Kelsi, decided to make the trek from Fort Carson, Colorado to Lockport, N.Y. in one fell swoop – 23 straight hours to arrive on Friday evening, July 3. It was his first leave since graduating from basic training in February. The look on his mother Marla’s face when he arrived (she did not have a clue) was like a commercial – priceless. After some wings, pizza, and beverages (and tears), we planned to meet at 5:30 a.m. in Lockport to drive to Wilson.
Brad and Kelsi met us at Kyle and Marla Costello’s house. Their two sons (and two more grandsons), Parker (7) and Landon (8), would also be going along for a total crew of 5 with Kyle (not counting me, the boat driver). Looking for some last-minute items and stopping at a convenience store for donuts and drinks delayed our departure. Gatorade and energy drinks filled the bag. However, despite the delays, we were still close to being on time.
I texted Mike that we were on the way and he started to prepare the boat. We were on the water fishing by 6:30 a.m. Johannes had already informed me that they had been hitting fish by 5:30 a.m. the day before and the bite had been early. We hoped that would not make too much of a difference today. It was supposed to be another hot one with bright sunshine.
Brad, who is in the Army, remembered a trip on Lake Ontario that we had 7 or 8 years before where he was still “too little” to reel in a big king salmon. Now that he was older, this was an opportunity to relive that experience and share it with his wife, Kelsi. It was also the first time on the water in a boat for Parker and Landon.
We hit a few smaller steelhead early and Parker and Landon both caught their first fish ever on the big lake. They were excited, even Landon who came for the boat ride more than the fishing. However, when we hit a little lull in the action, their eyes started getting heavy and the waves out of the northeast started to take a toll on their little stomachs. I hoped that they would not be getting seasick.
Before that could happen though, we experienced a flurry of activity – hooking up with 10 fish in the span of a little more than an hour. The constant action combined with the adrenalin flow was enough for the young anglers to forget about any queasiness.
Brad managed to catch his 20-pound salmon and Kelsi did one better by reeling in a 21-pound king. Everyone was happy and even the wind calmed down enough to make the troll much more pleasant. Before the morning was over, we had 19 fish on and boated 11. Most were released to fight another day.
We kept some salmon for the grill and Capt. Mike cleaned the fish on the water as we slowly trolled back to harbor. Of course, we hit a couple more fish as we concluded the morning and after Mike put away his fillet knives. That is the way things happen on the water. Try making a sandwich without having a fish hit!
Preparing the salmon for grilling is as simple as it gets. After cleaning the flesh and removing the bones, I pat the pieces dry and shake on some Hi Mountain Salmon Rub seasoning. I let it sit for an hour or two before we grill, letting the flavor soak in.
I like to use a wire grilling rack that keeps the fillets in place, even when I flip it. Be sure to coat the rack with non-stick spray like Pam for easier cleaning later. The fresh salmon was cooked up over a bed of charcoals. Never cook it too long; just so that they meat flakes. What a fitting way to conclude a holiday that included a surprise visit and a successful fishing trip. I love it when a plan comes together!