With high expectations, we returned to Barrett Lake for another session. We were second in line at the gate and the second boat on the water. On our way to our fishing location just as we were coming up to the Hauser arm the motor died. It happened when I let off the throttle. After several attempts to restart it we realized it was not going to operate. My new 55lb thrust Minn Kota trolling motor paired with my new lithium battery were going to be put to the test early on this trip. I started to make our way back to the marina for a new boat. We fought the wind the whole time. It costs us at least 40 minutes to get new boat and re-organize our gear. By this time the sun was starting to appear and my original plans to fish topwater deep into the arms now destroyed I changed the plan. As I reached our fishing spot I began letting off the throttle and it died again! With no time left to get a new boat it was time to fish powered only by trolling motor. Early light produce at least nine blowups for me. I managed at least three to hand here.
With the sun now hitting the side we were fishing, it was time to move across the lake where there was still shade. Without the main motor this would take some time. I was still worried how long the new battery would last. Without the outboard, the Minn Kota would be stressed to the limit. We managed to get to the other side but by this time the whole area had already been picked through by at least one angler. Fishing would get tough. As the sun began hitting all areas of the lake I did manage one more topwater bass just behind a submerged tree with just enough shadow to get a bass to look up.
With the sun now out completely and the section of lake busy we'd have to find some water with some willing fish. As we moved up the arm boils from wolfpacks started to appear in the middle of the channel. I'd troll over away from where we initially saw them in the hopes the school would start to make their way to us. This never happened though and after several minutes I'd move us back into a cove loaded with bluegill.
I'd move us along the contours of the lake into the other arm along the way we'd see hundreds of bluegill and everywhere we went one inch fry would be everywhere. By this time it was coming close to noon and the wind had now picked up. Casts were next to impossible. Even more difficult was positioning the boat for an presentable cast. With all this going against us I decided to try and head back. Hopefully we could find someone to tow us back as I wasn't too sure I would have enough battery left to get us there.
While drifting at the opening of arm we hailed a boat heading back. Thankfully they were willing to tow us back. They too were fly fishing and they said they had a tough go. They had some success early on topwater with gurglers but most fish were caught on extremely small flies once they noticed the fry. Once at the dock the staff asked if we wanted a new boat or if she wanted to see if she could start this one. She ripped the cord once and had the motor fired back up making us look like assholes. She said we had the choke out. While this was true when we arrived again at the dock but this was only because we were trying every combination to try and get the motor started again. It was left open when we gave up. We didn't have the choke open on each boat. Also when we arrived the first boat was still docked this time it was yellow flagged as she couldn't get that one started again. In addition later we would experience another problem and for sure the choke was in that time.
Now noon we decided to head out again this time with a working motor. We'd had to deal with the peak winds though, To try and escape it we'd head deep into Hauser. Bass simply weren't responding to our subsurface flies. I managed only one strike from a bass I saw come our of the weeds and gently swallow my fly. I saw him take and struck only to pull the fly our of its mouth. We went deep into the arm into the shallows where hundreds of bluegill were guarding nests. For the next couple hours we would be fishing our lightest rods catching some very nice specimens.
By 2 or 3pm we decided to head back. We'd fish along the way without much success. After a an hour or so we gave up on the idea and put the outboard at full throttle back to the marina. Maybe 1000 yards away from the docks the motor began to sputter and eventually died. I used the trolling motor the rest of the way back. An absolutely disappointing and frustrating day.