The float plane landed on the lake and idled up to the dock. The pilot had come to deliver a last shipment of minnows, seemingly the only bait that tempted Mosher Lake's finicky walleye.
I greeted the plane, opened the bucket to make sure the minnows were alive, then submerged the bucket and tied it to the dock.
After watching as the plane motored across the lake and rose into the air, I had a sudden sinking feeling.
In a panic, I knelt on the dock to peer down at the bucket. Sure enough, I'd left the lid of the bucket open, and the minnows were swimming about under the dock, mocking me with their freedom.
After I tried in vain to scoop the minnows back into the bucket, several northern pike arrived and demonstrated exactly how to scoop up minnows. Within minutes, all the little fishes were sleeping with the fishes.
Then I had to trudge up to the cabin to reveal sheepishly to the rest of the fishing party that I had turned our minnows, our last hope of scoring a walleye bonanza, into a buffet fit for a pike.
The others forgave me. But they've never let me forget.
As I write this column, I'm preparing for another fishing trip to Canada with five others from my family. Our group goes every three years for a fly-in trip at a remote outpost in Ontario.
I'm sure that I'll do something stupid again. It happens every trip. Let me recount two of the ways:
The Splits of 2008
For a fateful moment, I had a flashback to my more athletic younger years and attempted to leap from the boat a few feet onto the dock.
The attempt ended with one foot in the boat and one on the dock, with the boat drifting slowly away. I descended into splits so deep that, somewhere, Nadia Comaneci cried out in agony.