Friday, October 7, 2011

Kaw Lake, Day 6-A

It was 47 degrees this morning with a cloudless sky. It was one of those perfect autumn days with sunny, crystal clear air and miles of visibility. I launched Ibi and headed straight across the lake with a light chop on the port beam. When I reached the Eastern shore, I stopped to take a picture of the interesting limestone rock strata on shore.

. Just as I took the picture, a movement up on the bank caught my eye. I looked up to see three white-trailed deer bounding up the hill and through the trees. Since it was just a day-paddle, I went without my usual gear, and the light boat had me running along at a steady 3 mph with an easy relaxed stroke with the Bending Branches Bent Shaft BB Special. I was seeing something about 2 or 3 miles up the lake that I couldn’t identify. It was a good distance into the lake from shore.

There was a splotch of white on the top and bottom and black in the middle---maybe pelicans or egrets on a couple stumps. When I closed with it, I discovered the white was two five-gallon buckets, one on the ground in front of an ATV and one perched on top. The ‘ground’ the ATV was on was a very long, skinny sand spit that ran well into the lake. Relaxed in his folding chair with two fishing poles was Gifford Kurtsick.

Gifford is one of those 81-year-old guys that looks 20 years younger. I nosed the canoe up onto the sandbar, and we proceeded to talk away for nearly an hour. He told me about being on a destroyer in the midst of the Korean War, up near the Manchurian border. The bow had been damaged and several men killed when the ship hit a mine.
The USS Ernest G. Small struck a mine 7 Oct. 51.  Four days later the forward section broke off in heavy seas.  She was steaming in reverse for Japan.  I'm shocked to realize as I'm typing this, that today is the anniversary of the disaster. 

Gifford has fished here on the lake for 20-some years and lives just over the hill. He fishes until it’s time to go home for lunch, takes a nap, then returns to fish some more.

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