Fishin' in the Rain

Trip Start Apr 20, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Mount Rushmore National Monument

Flag of United States  , South Dakota
Friday, May 18, 2012

This morning, after another shower, we check out of the campground, repack the car and head toward Custer State Park to see Mount Rushmore. As we drive into the park, a ranger greets us and gives us amazing news: Custer SP is having an Open House Weekend beginning today with free entrance and more importantly free fishing…no fishing licenses or fees required! Our plan is to check out Mt. Rushmore and then see if there's any trout in Center Lake.

The drive to Mt. Rushmore is another pretty one with more bison and deer ushering us up to the big rock with the carved faces. We drive through three narrow tunnels and over several pig-tail bridges with views of Mt. Rushmore steadily getting closer and closer.

There are definitely more tourists here but it’s doable. We take the mile long hike around the monument, taking in the different views.

Along the hike at the base of the four faces, we’re constantly looking for mountain goats. According to the park brochure, they live around here, but we have no luck. Inside the park we learn about the sculptor and the techniques used to create such a huge carving.

When we’re done, we make more sandwiches for the ride back into town. We decide that it’s still early (it’s like 2:30pm) and that we have to take advantage of the free fishing. On our way back to town, it starts raining really hard…and then hailing! When we arrive in town, we stop at a fish and bait store we’ve heard about from two people in town, and get word that the fishing at Center Lake is indeed pretty good. We buy some Power Bait and head back into the park.

At Center Lake, there are only four other people fishing. We still don’t know where we’re staying tonight, but hopefully we’ll be eating fresh caught fish for dinner!

We take out the crappie poles we’ve brought from San Francisco. Bret’s dad, Jet Hirsch, gave them to us several years ago and we’re finally getting to use them.

We spend the next three hours fishing from the only pier on the lake. It starts pouring for about 15 minutes, but we press on with barely a notice. Eventually after an hour, Bret catches our first trout. Then I catch another one! And then Bret catches one more! Success!!

We’ve caught three trout – and they appear to be a variety of brook, brown and rainbow trout. They’re small but big enough for us to eat as an appetizer.

Bret takes off to clean them, while I keep hoping that maybe, just maybe, I’ll catch another one.

I get several bites and bait stolen from me, but no such luck. They "picked me clean."

Bret puts the cleaned fish on ice and we end up heading back to the campground and the same tipi we were at last night. It’s 8pm and there’s a ton of rain in the forecast.

Bret quickly starts a fire and adds some salt, pepper and a little corn meal to the fish and he cooks them in some oil and butter over our camp pan.

The smell is delicious. When the fish is ready, we sit down at our picnic table and savor every bite by the light of our table lantern. And it is good.

We cannot wait to go fishing again.

We stand around the campfire, reflecting on how good that fish was, when it starts pouring again! We head to a picnic table underneath a shelter and watch the rain come down. It’s probably only five minutes before the rain puts out the blazing fire we’d just been huddled around.

After another ten minutes, we run back to our tipi in the rain, hoping there’s not too much water damage inside. The receptionist at the campground said the tipis stay pretty dry, even in the center, unless there’s a driving rain. Well I guess we were in the middle of a driving rain, because there was a huge puddle in the center of our tipi and the corner of our air mattress and bedding that was closest to the center of the tipi is soaked!

We mop up as much as we can with an old rag we had in the back of our car and turn our air mattress from a queen into a twin by stacking the two mattresses on top of each other, pushing them as far away from the center of the tipi as possible. No Mad Men tonight. We fall asleep to the sound of the wind and driving rain.
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