My eyes were already open when the alarm hit 2:30am. By 3:00am I was hitching up the boat. I put the dog in the cab. Scraping the windshield quickly, I worried she might eat the breakfast burritos that my partner in crime had toiled over the night before. After sipping on a thermos of coffee for an hour we ate the burritos and were at the put in by 4:45am. Fresh snow covered the boat ramp. We pulled on neoprene waders and headlamps guided us as we loaded our gear.
It was the boats maiden voyage and thankfully she floated. Pushing off into the ink black water I worked to get a feel for the way she rowed. With little grace we began to push through the darkness. After some initial awkward strokes I fell into a comfortable rhythm. The night gave the river a feel I had never experienced. Complete silence was punctuated by the rumble of wing beats as ducks and geese lifted off the water as we rowed past. A half hour before sunrise we made it to an island where we set up for ducks and geese.
The sun rose over our decoys, revealing the world around us. Birds were flying but they wanted nothing to do with our spread. After a couple hours with only some distant looks, our numb digits dictated that we take a walk to warm up. Thinking of fish, I peeked into a small back channel and was surprised as a mallard scurried past. He lifted off causing a chain reaction of roughly 75 geese and 50 ducks to take flight. Caught completely off guard I managed to shoulder my gun and knock down one greenhead and a goose.
The morning frost gave way to sunshine and thawing temps. We pulled the decoys and rigged our rods. Sipping cold beers while catching feisty rainbows proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable way to pick our way to the boat ramp. The dog spilled one of the beers, a few drops of blood stained the floor, the landing net smelled like fish. It was a good way to christen the boat.