AS OPENING DAYS of fishing go, mine was what you might call a soft opener last Saturday.

On a day that was too beautiful to be caught doing yard work, I finally succumbed to my lovely wife’s “eye,” a most baleful eye when she wishes to send a message with it. I spent a good portion of the day blowing and hauling leaves, a task I made a miniscule start at about three weeks ago.

Apparently, my lovely wife does not consider leaves and pine needles piled up for three weeks as lovely lawn ornaments. I, on the other hand, am of the belief that they give the place a pleasant natural look. My belief doesn’t matter to the boss.

Anyway, it was late afternoon Saturday when I first ventured onto the water. After tossing around three good options, one for trout, one for northern pike and one for bluegills, I settled on the bluegills.

With a bright sun beaming down, a brisk wind humping mostly out of the west and sparkling blue water waiting, I pushed off in my fishing kayak with hopes of putting bluegills in the frying pan for supper.

Just to be on the sporting side, I opted to fish without any live bait. I could lie and say I was doing it to be sporting, but the truth is, after checking my truck and kayak not once, but twice, I arrived at the lake without the carton of beavertails — baby night crawlers if you will — that I had so thoughtfully purchased a day ahead of time.

Knowing that I could have fried beavertails for supper if I didn’t catch any fish, I paddled for the sheltered side of the lake, which fortunately is my favorite piece of the lake.

Pulling up to a downed and long dead balsam that has been lying perpendicular to the shore for several years, I started casting with my favorite artificial panfish lure, a tiny jig sporting a bright orange tail.

Casting as close to dead branches hidden underwater as I dared, I was quickly rewarded with my first hit. A bluegill, less than my 8-inch minimum, went back in the water.

Moments later, a 14-inch largemouth grabbed the jig. Big enough to keep and available to keep under a change in the largemouth regulations this year, that fish also was released.

Then, things got quiet. A couple more bluegill bites that I missed and a 15-inch, lightly hooked largemouth that I purposely shook off at the side of the kayak was all the more action I got in that spot.

For the next hour, I worked the south shore of the lake, trying different colors of jig tails while ruefully bemoaning my senior citizen memory anent the carton of beavertails. No fish decided to commiserate with me.

Back near the landing, fully intending to quit early, I made one of those desperate fisherman’s “last casts.” If no fish grabbed the jig, which is what I fully expected, I would indeed quit for the day. Naturally, a foolish bluegill grabbed the jig.

After a nice little tussle at the end of 4-pound test line on my ultra-light rod, a 91⁄2-inch bluegill came to hand. Now, how could I possibly throw such a nice slab back in the lake? It would have been sheer lunacy in any sane fisherman’s book. It became the first fish of the year to go in my wire fish basket.

Like any lunatic fisherman would do, I went back on my word to quit. I soldiered on.

On my next cast, a largemouth grabbed the jig. He fought like he thought he was a big fish, but he was really only about 12 inches and with no help from me, he flipped off right next to the kayak.

Naturally, action like that demands that one continue to flay the water with casts in every direction. One of those casts brought in another bluegill, a keeper of just a hair more than 8 inches; into the basket he went.

Um, I thought to myself. In short order I should have four more bluegills; a good meal of fish. All thoughts of quitting were abandoned. A half-hour later and my bluegill count was still at two. No quitter I, the casting continued. As usual, the first “three more casts and I quit” declaration went unheeded.

So did the next four sets of three more last casts go without quitting. Finally, well past suppertime, I gave in. I made one more cast that became the final one. Like the rest, it came up empty.

Instead of taking home two lonely bluegills, I pushed the lid of the basket open and watched my two bluegills swim away, unmolested, unscathed and hopefully, not too well educated to refrain from biting again, when I next visit this favorite little lake of mine.

Next time, I guarantee I’ll remember to bring the beavertails.