Forging a New Perspective at Lake Enemy Swim


Aidan Reid, 20

In a secluded corner of a state long thought to be bland and lifeless, lies the nucleus of my childhood. It was among the countless cottonwood and oaks of northeast South Dakota that I developed my sense of self, and a piece of every summer since the dawn of my time has been spent there. When I was very young I was the only kid around, and I liked it that way. I ruled the rich green lawn around our small cabin on the edge of Lake Enemy Swim, but it was not to be. I was soon to meet my future partner in crime, my cousin Burton. He and I would become fast friends, and get ourselves in a lot of interesting situations along the way. However none of these trials is more infamous among Gange households than The Spear.

Among the fourteen species of fish roaming the rich green waters of Enemy Swim, the common carp is the biggest and the ugliest. The invasive species is detrimental to native fish populations due to it’s hankering for their eggs. What a coincidence it was then that two thirteen year old boys would learn about the local’s sport of spearing them. Before we knew it we had our hands on two spears and were flying across the lake to a bay were the carp were said to accumulate among the tall reeds.

We glided up to the shore but the reeds were to thick to take the boat all the way in, so we anchored it a good distance out. We hopped into the warm water, beginning what we didn’t know was going to be a long journey. After spooking countless carp, we decided to give up. By the time we withdrew from our focus on the water, we were far down shore and into the bay. That was the least of our problems however, as Burton turned to me with an ashen look on his face. He pointed straight out into the middle of the bay. Sure enough, the red hull of our vessel was bouncing up and down on the waves, far from shore. Soon after we left it the waves must have bounced the boat up and down, which would pull the anchor off the bottom and allow it to slowly drift out wave by wave.

Currently I would consider the brief brainstorming session that followed to be unsuccessful. At the time however, we thought we were geniuses. “Of Course!”, we would simply swim out to it. That seemed logical, and it wasn’t very far. So we waded out deep, until our toes barely brushed the muddy bottom. Until this point I hadn’t given the spears we were using much thought, but I sure did now. Burton was gripping a proper carp slaying weapon, a roughly ten foot wooden pole with a five prong aluminum tip. He was simply pushing it along the surface, as the wooden handle allowed it to float. Mine however, was a behemoth. Roughly five feet in length, it was designed for ice fishermen and weighed a metric ton. I was struggling to keep it and myself from sinking, but we forged on after our boat.

The lake bottom sloped down gradually until we found ourselves in the middle of the bay, completely exhausted, and staring at the bobbing boat which was now closer to the other shore. My fingers desperately clamped to the slippery metal rod, but before I understood my mistake it lay peacefully on the bottom. With despair I imagined carp swimming lazily in circles around it, smirking. The final stretch to the boat was brutal, but we made it. My mind heavy and hand light, I clambered over the motor after Burton. We pulled the useless anchor and this is where our realization came. We could have simply walked around the bay and waited for the boat to come to us. Turns out water tread exhaustion and embarrassment are catalysts for strategic thinking, because after that moment I usually found a way to walk around the shore.