Friday, March 2, 2012

rolling on the river...

Spring is arriving and with it...fishing fever.  Today I am reliving our first fishing trip from last spring, as I eagerly anticipate our first trip of 2012.  That trip is on hold because of lousy weather, so all I can do right now is dream of the fishing pole in my hand, and the spinner bait speeding through the water....

February 18, 2011
Today was our official first fishing trip of the 2011 season.  Stevie Wonder spent the past week getting the boat ready and checking everything out before we hit the river today.  Oil change, poles checked, minnows bought and a 50 gallon drum turned into a minnow pond to keep the minnows alive.  Wretch came to spend the weekend and destress from college and work, so we were all mellow and ready to fish as we headed out.  I had Big Girl and the telephoto lens so that I could get some real "nature" shots.


SW stopped at the store to get some ice and I made him get some peanut butter crackers for me to munch on, since I had not eaten breakfast (Wretch had skipped eating too) and he came back bearing ice, peanut butter crackers, Oreo Double Stuff, and Fig Newtons.  I was trying to avoid too much junk, and decided I would eat the healthier snack and leave the cookies alone.  I didn't know it then, but that was going to be the high point of our day.


It took us about an hour to get to the place on the river we wanted to fish.  It is one of SW's favorite fishing spots and has always produced fish and fun.  He dropped the boat in the water, and Wretch and I stood by the boat until he got back, then we all climbed in and started down the river.

For some reason the boat didn't want to plane out, so SW told Wretch to sit up front, so the boat would level out.  It was sluggish and just didnt want to ride like it normally does, and the front end of the boat was pointed up for most of the way.  The boat finally flattened out on the water, but it took forty forevers for it to do it. 

We finally got to the mouth of the smaller river we were going to fish in, and were getting our poles out and getting them rigged and baited when Wretch looked down and screamed "DADDY THERE'S WATER COMING IN THE BOAT!" 

I looked down and sure enough, we were taking on water, and not in a slow way either.  Suddenly it made sense to me why the boat was nose up down the river, and the motor didn't seem to have any power.  We had about 500 extra pounds of water in the boat with us. 

I was ok with it and not really worried, after all SW has taken good care of me for over 40 years of fishing trips, so I just kind of stood there.  Until I looked at his face and saw he looked just a little panicked around the edges.  Then I panicked.  And three people in a small aluminum boat full of poles, tackle boxes, an ice cooler, life jackets and my camera bag, and cookies, doesn't give you much room to run in circles and scream.  SW managed to hold his panic in enough to finally tell us to hold on to our poles and SIT DOWN NOW.  He took off down the river and I looked back at the back of the boat and saw Niagara Falls spurting out in a giant arc.  Steve at that point could not figure out what was wrong, and Wretch and I were making plans to abandon ship...

but then SW idled the engine down and told me to steer the boat forward while he checked the back.  He was squatted down in the back and leaning over looking at things, and he told me to ease the boat forward a little faster.

Now you don't tell a 58 year old woman who is facing the prospect of a cold swim to shore and pumped up on adrenaline, to ease anything forward.  I thought I eased it, until I heard Steve cussing and telling me I was gonna dump his ass in the river, so I backed off and slowed down a bit.  Wretch was still gauging the distance to swim to shore, and making plans.

Steve fiddled around at the back and finally figured out what was wrong.

He had put the plug in the wrong hole.

Now you think someone who had been putting boat plugs in his whole life would know the right hole from the wrong hole, but evidently he goofed.  This one time he goofed.

He replaced the plug in the boat, we ran the water out with the bilge pump, and he looked at me and said "you know I need to get an extra plug sometime, to have in case we lose a plug."  I just looked at him and was thinking the next plug we would be buying would be a butt plug for him...but I kept my mouth shut.

My nerves were shot at that point and I started screaming for a cookie.  I actually wanted a tranquilizer, but those cookies were the nearest thing to a nerve pill we had in the boat.  I finally calmed down and told Wretch that every fishing season some little something goes wrong, because it is the first trip out and we have little kinks to work out and get adjusted.  We turned around and headed back to our spot to fish, and I was certain that nothing else could happen after that near miss of a fiasco.

Wrong.  It was only the beginning.

At one point, I got my hook stuck in a tree in the water in front of us.  I tried to whip it out, and it turned loose, flew backward, and caught in the tree directly behind me.  I repeated the motion, and it whipped free and flew back into the tree in front of us and got stuck again.  So I began whipping the pole back and forth like a fly fisherman, causing these unidentified dried up puffy balls on the tree in the water to explode all over Steve (he was in the direct line of fire).  We were all unable to agree on what those puffy things were (I said sweet gum balls, Steve said sycamore whatevers, and Wretch said she didn't know or care what the hell they were), but I can tell you they made some vile looking dusty poofs all over Steve.  At some point he was screaming and telling me to be careful before I hooked him.  But I didn't hook him.  Not then.  That came later.

We saw a muskrat swimming over by the bank, and I thought this would be a good chance to try my telephoto lens and get some photographs.  I got out Big Girl, changed lenses, focused in on the little critter who was on a bank by then grinning and posing just for me, and pressed the shutter button.

Nothing.  No click, no sound of any kind.  I looked down at the camera and saw the battery was dead.  This was the battery I thought had a full charge on it but I wasn't upset.  I reached in my camera bag for the spare battery and as I felt in the bag I realized....

The battery was still at home.  I had forgotten to pack it.  Oh I got my lip gloss so my lips wouldn't get all scaly, and my eye drops so I could focus as I looked through the lens of the camera....that I now realized had no battery.  At all.  I was pretty disgusted, because I had risked Big Girl's life with a near drowning and then found out I couldn't even take one lousy photo with her.

A bit later we went past fish we could SEE on the depth finder, to go to a spot way up the river where Steve said he ALWAYS caught fish.  And Wretch did catch a fish.  A large mouth bass that weighed at least 8 ounces.  Right after I dropped the box of hooks in the water and had to splash around and fish them out.  We weren't getting any bites at all, so we headed back out to the spot where we had seen the fish on the depth finder.

Only while we were up there they were locking a boat through the dam and had lowered the water.  Enough so that the rocks we barely skimmed over coming in, became white water rapids going back out.  All we could do was raise the big motor out of the water, Steve pulled up the trolling motor, and our aluminum boat became a kayak that bounced across the rocks and finally back into deeper water.

We got back to the tree where the fish had been, according to the depth finder.

They were gone.  So we sat there for a while with bobbers floating in the water, and finally called it quits. 



 All these calm, serene photos you see that I took today (with my iPhone), they are all fake.  There were no fish on the ends of those fishing poles, the water tried to kill us twice, and the trees conspired to grab our minnows off our hooks. 

It was all a sham. 

But there was one positive point.

It didn't rain.






~cath
Twitter @jonesbabie
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