FISHING IS A sport to be enjoyed alone. Fishing also is a sport to be enjoyed with good friends. As a rule of thumb, any day spent fishing, whether alone or with friends, is a day well spent.

Another rule of thumb for me, at least when I wish to fish, hunt or otherwise enjoy the outdoors, is that on the days I go solo, one fisherman other than myself on a mile of trout stream is one fisherman too many and the same goes for hunting. If I am grouse, deer or turkey hunting on a 4-square mile section of woods, one other hunter is one too many and so it goes.

That’s not to say I don’t ever enjoy hunting, fishing or other outdoor activities with other people. While I never enjoy fishing with a gaggle of friends in other boats stacked one on top of the other or sit in a duck blind with six other guys blasting away as they so often do on the outdoor hunting shows, I do enjoy spending times in the outdoors with good friends.

Whether or not I deserve to be, I am pretty picky about the friends I share time with in duck blinds, on deer hunts, in backcountry campsites or on the water. If something doesn’t suit me about people in such settings, regardless if they otherwise are good friends, I simply avoid invitations whether issued from my end or theirs.

Maybe it’s because I have admittedly, in some ways, become a grumpy old man à la Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, but unless there is something about someone I really like when it comes to sharing the outdoors, I’d rather go solo.

My friend, Ed, is someone with whom I genuinely enjoy fishing. Ed is from St. Louis, Mo., and spends a good part of each summer at a family home on Plum Lake. We got together for the first time, oh, maybe, about eight or 10 years ago and we hit it off right away.

We both like to fish and we both like our fishing to be done in a rather leisurely fashion. In midsummer, when the sun is blazing in a cloudless sky, the temperature is somewhere north of 80 and the humidity gauge reads sopping wet, we do not care to burn ourselves to a frazzle trying fruitlessly to catch walleyes.

I don’t think Ed has ever fished muskies and I gave up on those ugly brutes about 20 years ago. In those past 20 years, I’ve caught six muskies, all on spinning gear while jigging for walleyes or casting small bucktails for northern pike. All were, at the time, legals in the mid-30s range and all were released with the admonition to never darken the water near my boat again.

Ed and I both very much enjoy fishing for northern pike, large- and smallmouth bass, and panfish. We both very much enjoy eating panfish and pike and, while I haven’t eaten a bass in perhaps 40 years, Ed enjoys eating them very much.

Our fishing philosophies, you might say, are very much the same. We like fishing on small, quiet lakes, enjoy talking about things from years gone by, and enjoy taking home a meal of fish at a time and no more.

A few days ago, we shared my Old Town square stern for the second time this summer. We fished a somewhat large lake compared to the ones we usually fish, looking for a few fish to eat and maybe a trophy bass or two to throw back. As usual, we planned to fish for about four hours, which is about the maximum our old knees, hips and backs can stand in the narrow confines of the Old Town or any other boat for that matter.

Right off the bat, not 50 yards from the shallow, sandy launch site that will accommodate only watercraft of the kind we fish from, we started catching fish. In the first five minutes, we had three bluegills that all measured just more than 9 inches in the fish basket.

Along a brush-choked shoreline we continued to catch fish, mostly bluegills, but also one 11-inch rock bass I caught and put in the basket, and one 12-inch largemouth I caught that was returned quickly to the water.

A half hour later, we moved to another part of the lake and while I rowed, Ed trolled a minnow-bodied spinner bait behind. Not from the hot spot I intended to fish, Ed had a hard strike and after a spirited tussle, he brought a 17-inch largemouth to my net. That was one of two, according to our self-imposed limit, that would be allowed in the basket.

We spent the next hour or so working the outer edges of flooded brush, emergent grassy growth, areas of large downed trees and places where boulders the size of small cars dotted the bottom. Bass ignored our crawlers and leeches, but some dandy bluegills did not. Between us we put a dozen in the basket, again according to our own self-imposed limit.

Both of us were starting to suffer from backaches, chilblains and probably hangnails and ingrown toenails, so we decided enough was enough. Rowing back to the landing, Ed tried the trolling trick once more and was rewarded with a smallmouth just shy of 16 inches. It was the last fish to join the crowd in the basket.

When we called it quits, I had the biggest rock bass of the day while Ed was king of the bluegills and bass. It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t add that Ed, while working a floating jig and crawler, caught what might be the world record for bluegills, the smallest bluegill ever, that is.

Midway through our outing, he watched his tiny bobber jiggle, manfully set the hook and proudly reeled in what measured out to be a 21⁄4-inch bluegill. How it ever managed to hook itself on a size six hook will forever be a mystery.

When all was said and done, Ed and I agreed that for a couple of old codgers we’d had a pretty darn successful outing. Ed has to return to St. Louis for part of the summer, so our next outing will have to wait until sometime in August. In the meantime, I’m going to try and find him a “honey hole” filled with 21⁄2-inch bluegills.

I look forward to that next time, because with Ed, two in the boat is just right.