BROOKLYN — It’s been more than two years since I shared a day with Bluegill Bob Miskowski, the first time it’s been anywhere near that long since I met him 20 years ago. Generally, we fish at least two or three days a year, sometimes more.
In 2010, when we had safe ice before Christmas, Miskowski — who is as close to a bluegill-fishing legend as there is in these parts — and I smacked the ’gills on a southern Michigan lake. A week or so later, I had a disagreement with a tree stand that put me on my back for a while. It was during my recuperation that Miskowski called to tell me he was going to be out of the game, too, after falling on the ice. He needed surgery to repair his knee.
That’s where our paths diverged. My cracked pelvis came around quickly. Miskowski’s knee didn’t. Fast forward to now and I am not much worse for the wear. Miskowski’s using a walker. So when I called him recently to fish, he hemmed and hawed about not wanting to be too much trouble. But I convinced him I could handle it if he could and there’s very little quit in Bluegill Bob.
We didn’t get started until the afternoon as Miskowski said the medication he takes to sleep puts him out of commission in the mornings. We chose Vineyard Lake, a Jackson County lake not far from his Lenawee County home, a place we’d shared many a sunfish safari over the years.
Our plan was simple: motor around until we found some bedding ‘gills. It was tougher than it should have been; the wind was up — making it difficult to spot the beds — and because he was unable to stand, I had run to run the six-horse outboard and watch the bottom. I found a spot, we anchored and started catching some fish almost immediately, but they were runts, well short of the seven-inch mark Miskowski considers an honorable ‘gill.