Over the years, I had many adventures with family and friends on, in and around the desert lakes in the Valley. Many people are not familiar with our lakes don’t even know they are there. At on time, it was once report that the Valley had more boats per capita than any other major city. How true that was is uncertain, but with the warm water lakes, water sports are very popular.
One of my first recollections of boating in Arizona was an outing to near by Canyon Lake that our family was invited to by my Uncle John & Aunt MIJ.ryW. e were to meet them and my Uncles family on the west end of the main beach, just past the steel trestle bridge, on of the lakes many landmarks. Uncle John and his brothers had a brand new, red & white, fiberglass boat that they all shared. Uncle John used it for fishing while his brothers preferred water skiing and sight seeing.
Arrangements were made to borrow an additional boat, a small cabin cruiser, so they could have two boats to provide recreation for all the families they invited to join them. It was a great day for boating and playing on the sandy beach while waiting your turn in one of the boats. The water temperatures were refreshingly cool and the sand was warm. Lying on a beach towel after a quick dip was very therapeutic.
Lunch was served on an as needed basis and consisted of various lunch meat sandwiches, potato chips, cold pop and cookies, but dinner was even better. A seven coarse meal consisting of hot dogs, relish, onions, mustard, ketchup, more chips, and topped off with roasting marshmallow on a stick. All was washed down with cold pop out of a bottle. Canned pop wasn’t readily available then. Cans were reserved for beer in those days and the adults did have a few of them to enjoy while sitting around the fire after watching the sun go down over the mountains ridge. An occasional pop and crackle of the fire would send a flurry of sparks into the night sky. As the lake of the flames would go down, flashlights led the way to our car for trip back to the city. We left the lake with great memories and a little sting of sun burn.
My next trip to Canyon Lake was with some friends from our church. I was only about eleven years old, and they were in their late teens. We were to send the day fishing on a rented aluminum motor boat. For bait, they brought along some worms, a few live water dogs and something brand new on the market, an artificial rubber worm. These were pretty expensive, like 50 cents each. Doesn’t sound like much, but a bottle of pop was only 10 cents plus 2 cents deposit on the bottle.
We decided to head to one of the back coves on the many canyons around the lake. I was sitting in the front of the boat to spot any rocks or boulders submerged under the waters surface. It looked like it was clear sailing as we sped along at five miles per hour until I saw what appeared to be murky water ahead. Then suddenly we hit something that stopped the boat immediately, thrusting everybody and everything forward. Whose law is it? •A body at rest, tends to stay at rest and a body in motion, tends to stay in motion”. Well the boat came to rest and everybody proved the law, but no body went overboard, but I came pretty close. When we realized what happened, we all had a good laugh the echoed off the canyon walls. That turned out to be the highlight of the trip, as we did not catch a single fish or even had a single bite.
Uncle John looked for every opportunity to take is little red & white boat out to the lake. Canyon Lake was his favorite, but he would try them all depending on the fishing reports. for awhile, he would call my Mother on Friday morning, to see if I would go fishing with him when I came home from school for lunch at noon. Let’s see, would I like to go back to school or go fishing with Uncle John? That’s what you call a “no brainer”.
On one school ditching Friday, he and I drove all the way to Canyon Lake for an afternoon of fishing. We had an ice chest full of beer,• A-1 Pilsner” and •root•. We backed the boat down the ramp to the waters edge, where we would load all our gear and provisions in the boat, unlash it from the trailer and prepare to launch. I would stand on the tongue of trailer with the coiled rope secured to the bow firmly planted in my hand, as Uncle John would back the rig into the water. Just as the boat would float off the trailer, I would push it away from the shore until it was fully afloat. I would signal Uncle John to slowly pull forward up the ramp until my feet were above dry ground. Then I would get off the trailer and pull the boat back in while Uncle John would park the car and trailer.
Know with everything ready to go, Uncle John goes to start the boat and discovers he forgot the ignition keys. “For Krauts Sake” he said emphatically. He spent the next thirty minutes trying to bypass the ignition circuit and start the motor with make shift rope puller he fashioned from the anchor line. It didn’t want to start. So we reversed our launching procedure and packed everything up. He was so made, he didn’t even want to fish from the shore so we didn’t even wet a line. For me, that was still fun, especially because I wasn’t in class. “The worst day of fishing is still better than the best day in school”!
On another trip with Uncle John, we were joined by my Dad and brother Ricky. It was a warm summer day when the bass would be found closer to the bottom of the lake. In the colder months they would migrate to the shallower waters, but not the day time temperature would be over 100 degrees.
Uncle John and Dad were catching fish, but Ricky and I weren’t. So Uncle John shared the key to his and Dad’s success. He pointed out a saguaro cactus half way up the side of a nearby mountain. He told us to aim our cast at that saguaro and through it as hard as we could. There were not fish on the mountain side, but that target would position our bait over a school of bass when the line drifted down. It worked, and we all catch our limits of fish. That was a fun day but its memory would spoil another trip when the fishing wasn’t that great.
As a matter of fact, the next trip we took with Uncle John was just like that. No fish! When you are young kids, trapped on a hot boat and the fish aren’t biting, you get real bored, real soon. Dad and Uncle John were trying to determine the best place to fish as we sped across the lake. Ricky and I would dangle our hands over the edge of the boat to feel the spray of water. It was warm water, but the spray would hit our face with a refreshing splash. Dad and Uncle John picked out a shady cove to use as shelter from the siring sun. When Uncle John shut the motor off, we glided into the shade and came to a stop. Rick and I were so hot, that we jumped into the water. A sudden shock came over us. The water temperature was so cold, it took our breath away. Our muscles cramped up. Rick had on a life preserver and I grabbed a hold of him. We couldn’t even yell because our air supply escaped our lungs. As Uncle John and Dad fished us out with the boat hook and oar, they could hardly keep from laughing. Ricky and I foiled to see the humor in this situation until we were all dried off and warmed by the suns rays again. ·Look before you leap• was a famous saying before you dive into any water. In this case, it would be better to check the water temperature.
Dad enjoyed lake fishing so much he decided with five sons, he should invest in a good fishing boat. That is another whole series of stories for another time .