Monday, March 16, 2009


Have you ever been fishing? Nah, I’m not talking about out in the ocean. I’m a freakin land lubber so my idea of fishing is from shore on a mountain lake or impoundment or the streams that flow into or out of these bodies of water. I’m mainly talking about trout fishing. It’s a favorable pastime when hockey season is over and it sure beats the shit outta playing golf.

Speaking of golf, have ya ever seen the kinda money those guys make in tournaments? Where the hell does that money come from? Its not like golf is a physical game like hockey that can draw from an enormous fan-base as a legitimate spectator sport. Shit howdy! I mean who watches that shit and even better yet who in the world would PAY to watch it? For the life of me, I just can’t figure it out.

So I’ll get back to fishing in a little bit.

What in the world is going on with ice hockey these days? Playoffs are around the corner and will start in about four weeks and the general managers all got together again and raised some shit about fighting and instigators and all this other shit. It blows my mind how far away from true hockey we are getting these days. Look at all the protections that are being provided goalies and superstars. Fuck’em! As far as I’m concerned if ya lace’m up and step on the ice you’re fair game. So you’re a goalie and ya lay down in the crease (Gee have you seen how big the crease is these days?) trying to make a save? That’s your job, right? You’ve got more protective gear on then anyone else on the ice, is that correct? So you’re down or maybe your not and you get clobbered by an opponent; maybe on purpose or maybe he got clobbered into you by one of your teammates, so he gets a penalty and you get to be a whoosss. Is that right?

No fuckin way! Of course its not. Be a man instead of a weenie.

And the hooking calls that have been being made all season long; what a bunch of shit they are. Take a look at a hockey stick. See how at the end of the shaft the blade joins it angularly. Now to restrict or impede someone by hooking by use of this angled blade is a bloody hook. Not the crap that the league now calls. A player gets tapped in his mid-section or on his gloves by his opponent and we get a hooking call. Bull crap! Come up with a new term for this – call it panty-waisting or tapping. But hooking, come on? No way. I’m sick of it.

What does the league think? Getting tapped might hurt your little fingies? Well wear some dad-gone hockey gloves for Pete’s sake. Have you seen the mitts that some of the hot shot forwards are wearing these days? My honey wears heavier gloves when she does gardening. If ya get a chance take a look at the skimpy little gloves that Joe Thornton uses.

One thing that is fairly physical that I’ve never been too fond of though is cross-checking in the back. This can cause permanent spinal damage. It seems as though this has been on the rise and very seldom is called. Probably the most prevalent cross-checker in the league is Rob Blake.

When I coached, I always taught my kids to drop one hand off the stick so that they wouldn’t get called for cross checking. There isn’t a penalty for shoving.

There, I got up on my soapbox for a little bit. I mean, like, gee-wilikers I’m Jasper Wheats, walking with wood, and I’m entitled to speak my mind about all things hockey, ehh.

How about you? What’s your take on all the changes going on with hockey? Drop me a line and let me know how you feel. Are we losing that old time hockey flavor that we so love?

Yup, I got a little off task here you guys. I hope that you didn’t mind too dang much. Let’s get back to fishing, ehh.

I used to do a whole shit load of fishing on the lakes in Minnesota when I lived down in the Twin Cities area. Mainly catching bluegills, crappies and fool bullheads. It was a good time that’s for sure. I remember one little fishing trip we took up to a lake north of Saint Paul, Twin Rivers Lake. We were probably three families all together if I remember right and this time we went out in two powerboats to the far side of the lake from where we had set up camp. It’s so long ago now that I can’t remember if we were using shiners or worms but we were working a crappie hole between where the two rivers dumped into the lake. It was like fishing in a barrel. You drop your line, you pull up a crappie. Seemed as though somebody in the other boat caught a small pike and I don’t think it was big enough to be legal so all we really had was a big old mess of panfish.

On this particular fishing expedition I was the oldest male kid and as such was designated to fillet all these puppies. I think it was like 173 fish that I cleaned that afternoon. I was up to my elbows in fish guts, skin and scales and flat slabs of pan-fish fillets. It was actually quite a bitch but the fish fry we had that night was awfully damn good.

But this is my take on that: Having the boats to get over to that fishing hole was just too much of an unfair advantage to the fish. I guess that’s why I don’t like boat fishing. Oh yeah, plus I always get a little seasick later from the rocking of v-hull boats. Now a canoe, that’s a different story. You’re low to the water and you have to paddle – there’s some exertion involved on the fisherman’s part and that sort of karma-wise evens out the advantage over the fish.

After moving away from the Land of 10,000 Lakes I didn’t fish for many years. I had a new life and new adventures that a young man in his late teens and early twenties might find himself involved. But nope, fishing wasn’t one of those activities.

At some point in my late twenties, one of my hockey buds, Mooney (he’s since passed away due to cancer but is walking with wood on the other side I’m absolutely sure), talked me and a bunch of other members of the team to go on a trout fishing trip up to the mountains. This, my friends, was a great reintroduction to a favorite pastime of all folks that live in the backwoods.

On this first trip it was Moonie, Mick, Guyster, myself, and I think Doodoo. Mick played defense with me on occasion and Guyster, our goalie, from Montreal, actually had a college degree in fish husbandry – so he was sort of an expert on all things “fish”. DooDoo was a blond haired horndog slicker from Boston that’d poke anything that had a hole; hence his nickname. And Moonie, well he’d skated winger most of the time and had been coming to this area since he was a little kid.

There were four main areas that we fished on this trip. The first was in the high country lakes. All were at 10,000 feet elevation or higher. A couple of small ones that we didn’t pursue too heavily were the Toad Lakes that were higher up in the mountain range but part of the drainage. Then there were the two Virgin Lakes (Upper and Lower or Big and Little take your pick) and Turbull Lake that were all within about a quarter a mile of each other that we fished quite heavily. The second area that we fished was the Walking Wood River that was down the mountain in another drainage but easy walking from the main road. The third was a big impoundment, Spanhaven Reservoir, where we fished from the dam and the trout were fat. The fourth and last spot we fished was at the lowest elevation at around 4,000 feet and again an impoundment named Lindy Pond.

Camping was available at or near all areas except Spanhaven where a small town is similarly named that has motels, a sporting goods/fishing supplies store, gas stations, restaurants and bars. On this particular trip, and any I took with Moonie, we always stayed at the Walking Wood Lodge in town and ate breakfast at a coffee shop across the street and had dinner and brews at the Rhino Bar down the street.

Moonie had scads of injuries, broken bones and shit, so I think he found sleeping on a hotel bed to be of less discomfort then tent camping. We didn’t complain. A warm shower after fishing all day in rain sometimes or even sleet wasn’t such a damn bad inconvenience to put up with, ehh.

I am damn glad that old Moonie turned me on to this part of the world and re-inspired my fishing spirit. He may have sucked on the ice but he sure knew how to continue our camaraderie after the season was over. The trout opener is always the first weekend in May so the timing was excellent.

Do any of you hockey dudes or dudettes have a friend like Moonie that turned you on to something way cool? Again, if you have, well than just drop me a line and tell me about it. It coulda been an uncle, an aunt, a grandparent, or a neighbor. Shit, it could be your folks or a sibling that spiffed up a part of your life and maybe they haven’t ditched it yet for a better life like Moonie did. But tell me about it, I’d like to hear your stories.

After having done this with Moonie and the boys for a few years I made plans for a fishing trip with my brother Jingles, his son Ry-Ry and three of our nephews Ricky, Josey and his little bro Amos. Ricky and Josey are the oldest and the same age at around 12 or 13 during this trip. I think Amos is next youngest and then Ry-Ry was the punkest kid along.

This trip was for camping and fishing – no hotel or restaurant fare. The boys were going to enjoy the virtues of camping. We packed all the gear under the shell of my little pickup truck and Amos road with me. Jingles was driving at the time either a Yugo or a Le Car, econo-boxes, with the other three nephews.

So off we headed about 340 miles each way to the campground at Turnbull Lake. We weren’t too concerned about making good time, just sort of pittered about with pit stops and time to jostle a bit to break up the tedium of the drive. Nothing like uncles destroying all the good manners that these boys’ moms had ever taught them. Yeah, you’re damn right you can fart in the car! Ha-ha, and the louder and the stinkier the better.

We brought along the usual provisions for eating and drinking – eggs, bacon, potatoes for frying, hot dogs, chips, cookies, pops and beers (for me and Jingles only – of course) and maybe some fruit – not sure about that. I packed three of my tents – an umbrella tent that myself and Amos slept in and two each two man pup tents, one for Jingles and Ry-Ry and one for Josie and Ricky. Everybody also brought sleeping bags for themselves. It gets down below freezing even on summer nights when your camping above 10,000 feet so we needed to be prepared.

The first day was dedicated to driving and setting up camp. We didn’t do any fishing, had a little time to hike around and show the boys the three lakes that were close by. The campground has mountains that rise up another three to four thousand feet on three sides so the views up there were pretty damn spectacular. I’m pretty sure that everybody thought this place was just tits.

I fixed dinner and got a fire going. We sat around the fire, roasted marshmallows and acted like just a bunch of fools telling scary stories and talking about bears and crap. I think the coolest thing for my nephews was being able to add wood to the fire and being able to stir it up making sparks fly. It was crazy but very cool to hang out with my family in such a rugged place. As we let the fire burn down it came time to take trips to the campground’s outhouse for the before bed pisseroos. With couple of flashlights in hand we all trucked on down to individually enter the throne of stinkdom. Whew, it was bad in there after a hot summer day – even in the cool of the night that shitter was pretty ripe.

So after that ordeal we all got back to the camp and I made sure that each tent had a flashlight and we all settled into our tents and sleeping bags. Everybody was making a lot of noise and such with laughing coming from every tent before we finally crashed out. But I’m not so sure that anybody got a good night’s sleep. It was colder than poop. Amos mutters in his sleep and I know that I had to bury my head in my sleeping bag to keep warm and block that out. Damn near suffocated and get claustrophobic when I cover my head. Oh well, that wasn’t the worst of it.

In the morning I come to find out that Jingle’s and Ry-Ry’s sleeping bags were of the GI Joe variety. They might keep you warm on the living room floor but they sure don’t work for fuck up in the mountains. They froze their fool asses off.

After fixing breakfast for all I got us organized to do some fishing. I already had two complete ultra-light spinning rod and reels plus one medium weight rod and reel set up. So for this trip I had bought four el-cheapo closed face spinning rod and reel rigs. I hate those things but thought that they would be easier for kids to learn on. Deciding that the two Virgin Lakes had too much vegetation growing on the shore line and to avoid snags in this shit we walked over to the far shore of Turbull Lake where there were some rock ledges and boulder sized scree that we could easily fish from.

Now Jingles is a hell of a hockey player but I had to show him how to setup the gear and how to cast to catch trout just like I did my nephews. The nephews all grew up to be pretty athletic with Ricky and Josie playing some puck, Ry-Ry winning an AAAU 14 year old world series, and Amos playing every play in some football games his senior year of high school. So once I got them going they all did pretty good.

The only real problem was while Amos was not paying attention and setting his rig down a seagull swam into his line and being startled flew away pulling his gear into about fifteen feet of water. What a crack up. Good thing I had an extra rig.

The boys started getting hungry so we broke off to go back to camp for lunch. While there Mick showed up in his Bronco and he went off fishing one of the Virgin or Toad Lakes only to join us again in the evening.

So back to the shelves and rocks we went fishing. And boy oh boy did it get good in the afternoon. We were catching twelve-inch rainbows right and left. We discovered that about 30 to 40 feet out was a drop off and the fish were hanging just over that edge. I was hopping about taking fish off the line and getting them on stringers and doing this and doing that to keep the screaming down. I got so caught up after a while helping Amos and walking back and forth from his spot to where Jingles and Ry-Ry were fishing that I hadn’t noticed that Josey and Ricky had disappeared. When I did finally notice I realized that those little shitters had taken off and had climbed several hundred feet up the scree and were perched on a massive outcropping with about a hundred foot free fall immediately below them. I screamed at them to get back down explaining that their moms’, my sisters, would kill me if they got seriously hurt while up here. LOL

That evening I cleaned some of the trout and we had them for dinner. Needless to say the boys preferred hot dogs so we had those too.

Again we sat around the fire and had a good time that evening. It was good to have Mick show up because he added stories that we hadn’t heard before. Plus his inclusion into the adult attendance we drank a lot more beer that night and I know for one that I paid for that with several frigid scurries away from the tent in the night in order to empty my bladder. Ry-Ry discovered that if he stuffed green pine needles into the beer cans and threw them into the fire that they made loud popping noises and so had invented “sap bombs” that we put up with during that night’s and the remaining evening fires.

I really think these boys had a blast. I know that I did and I’m sure that I’ll remember this fishing trip forever. I hope that they do too.

Another thing the boys discovered was that pops and beers make for tremendous burps when you’re at altitude. Each tried to out do the others. It was intense and oft times sounded quite painful.

Because of those wimp-ass sleeping bags that Jingles and Ry-Ry had to use they placed some good sized loose stones next to the fire pit to warm up and later put them in the bottom of their sleeping bags to keep warm through the night. Well – half the night and as crazy as it was this worked better than doing nothing else like they had the first night.

Mick hadn’t brought a tent and asked if he could sleep under the shell in the bed of my pickup. No problem, but he only had blankets and no sleeping bag. In the morning he said that that was bullshit. So much wind blew in around the bed of my truck that he froze his fuckin ass off. He was gonna sleep in the back seat of his Bronco the next night.

The next day we hiked about and fished some more. All in all I think we caught about eighty rainbows. Like that fishing trip back in Minnesota, again I cleaned every fish. Now trout don’t get filleted but you do gut them by slitting from their bowel opening to their gills and pulling their innards out by grabbing the gills and pulling down and out. Gills are pretty sharp and both of my thumbs were sliced almost to the bone from doing this – ahhhhh - yes the pains of fishing.

I think that my old defensive buddy, Mick, had a pretty good time hanging out with the old Wheats clan for fishing and freezing on this adventure. We had to leave on the third day early and left him while he did some more fishing.

We packed everything up and got ready to hit the road. I looked at Amos who was again going to ride with me. He had the same and only sweatshirt he had with him still on – filthier than my fishing rag. It was an old mustard yellow colored thing so I had him turn it inside out so it didn’t look so bad. Kinda held the odor in also. He got a bloody nose on the way home and bled all over it anyway, so no biggie – I should have left it right side out, ehh.

Sometime later after this trip I found out that Josie and Ricky couldn’t stand the stench of the outhouse at the campground and had avoided having to sit in the office by not taking a crap the whole trip. LMFAO! I don’t know how they managed that because that greasy-ass bacon that I fixed every morning for breakfast had my bowels moving in about three minute flat. I guess you could call what I fix for the morning meal as “Jasper’s Instant Breakfast”, ehh.

I love hockey. I love camping. And I love fishing. So many more tales to tell.

Come back again and read some more.

Jasper here, just telling ya to skate hard and walk with wood.