Just Call Me MacGyver

My husband thought I just liked to fish, but on a recent backpack trip, he learned just how much I actually love fishing and to what extent I will go to keep on fishing when challenges arise.

Ken and I took our pack goats on a 9 day trip into the St. Joe River wilderness of Idaho with the intent of seeking the most isolated, remote areas we could find. On the agenda was a high mountain lake, where we would camp for two nights and relax after a few long days on the trail. On my agenda was fishing for cutthroat trout that were rumored to fill the lake. Within moments of arriving at the lake, despite aching feet, my first priority was to rig up my line and head to the lake to see if I could catch a fish or two for dinner. However, when I took my spinning rod out of the side pocket of my backpack, I noticed that the handle of my reel was just flopping around. The nut that held the handle to the reel had fallen off somewhere along the trail. Luckily, I hadn’t lost the whole handle, but without the nut, I had to be careful not to lose the rest of the assembly.

After getting no bites the first night, I headed to the lake after breakfast the next morning, determined to change my luck. Careful to hold the handle while casting to make sure it didn’t end up flying into the lake, it wasn’t long before I started catching fish. Just before lunchtime, I had 5 fish on my stringer when a large trout started prowling the water just below where I stood on the rocky shore. As I was wove my lure through the water below me, hoping to draw the big fish in to take a bite, all of a sudden “PLOP”….my handle dropped into the water. My stomach sank. Without that handle, my fishing was over for the rest of the trip unless I could figure something out.

After lunch, I spent about an hour trying to snag the handle with a hiking staff, but it slid deep into the sludge that lined the bottom of the lake. I considered going into the lake to see if I could find it, but the icy water was shoulder deep and despite the hot summer temperatures, I was not anxious to take a dip. It was on to Plan “B”—try to find a substitute handle.

Working my way along the shore, I searched for something that would fit into the hole that had held the handle. I tried a few sticks, but they just broke off inside the hole when I tried to “reel.” Huckleberry branches worked…sort of. I actually was able to catch a fish while using a huckleberry branch, but as I was reeling it in, the branch broke and I had to manually bring the fish in the rest of the way. After breaking several huckleberry branches, I knew I needed something more substantial.

Wracking my brain on what I could use, I remembered seeing a bundle of wire that a previous backpacker had left behind at our camp. If that wire would fit in the handle hole, I might be able to make something that would work. Amazingly, the wire fit perfectly. However, it was about 4 feet of wire in a big jumbled mess, so I needed to find a way to break it to a more useable length. I tried to bend the wire to break it, but it quickly got too hot to touch. Fortunately, I have a strong husband with tough hands and he was able to break the wire after bending it back and forth several more times. The wire had just enough of a bend that it functioned perfectly as a handle. I was once again off to the lake.

By the end of the day, I had kept 6 more fish and caught several more than that on what I referred to as my “MacGyver handle.” Never underestimate the determination of an avid fisherwoman when the fish are biting!

Sep 04, 2013 | Category: Blog, Fishing | Comments: none


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