August 17, 2006

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

So there I stood, my fishing pole nearly doubled over, line making sporadic dashes off the reel accompanied by the screech of the drag as the fish made effort after effort to escape. The big bass had only been on for a matter of seconds when the thought began to creep into my mind Ė am I a psychic?

I was sort of expecting the Twilight Zone theme song to begin to serenade me from the clouds as I worked to land what I was starting to assume would be another wall-hanger. I hadnít even seen the fish, but I was growing bolder in my assumptions that it was a giant. I was fishing fairly light line and I still had to bring the fighter through some pretty stiff vegetation at the pondís edge yet my mind was going through the steps. How do you best preserve the fish? Do I have the taxidermistís phone number in my cell phone? Would it be too bold to shout out to the deer marching across the bean field on the other side of the pond that they would be next this fall?

If they only knew that I could predict the future. What other explanation was there for the fact that I had written about catching another trophy bass to help decorate the walls of my new office. The ink was barely dry on the newspaper and there I was locked in battle with my latest trophy. Would it look better up front near the entrance, or should I hide it somewhat in the privacy of my office, where while it might not be seen nearly as much, it would most definitely have the full story accompanying the viewing as I would have a more captive audience.

Shoot, Iím blessed with this forum to brag anytime I like, so itís going on the wall up front for everyone to see.

My planning was nearly complete and I was still just halfway home to landing the fish. Either the noisy drag finally scared the deer away, or maybe they finally realized that November would be here pretty quick, because they scattered before I could decide what wall they would adorn.

Does that sound brazen, or a slight bit overconfident? Iím generally fairly humble, but how could it be any different? I had predicted the big fish episode not more than 24 hours prior to the fact, so surely the trophy bucks will follow in bow and gun season, right?

Well if the taxidermist is reading this, donít plan that new addition on the shop just on my account. Believe it or not, my line stayed together, the hook did not shatter in two nor did any other portion of my gear fail, like normal. No screaming eagle swept down to steal my bass and no sea monster came up from the depths to free its brethren.

I was extremely impressed when I ultimately lipped that nice old bass. Unfortunately I had no scales, but the tape measure showed the lunker to stand a little over 22 inches tall. My cell phone, which so many times has ruthlessly ended a fishing outing prematurely, came in quite handy as I called up to the farmhouse and requested an official weigh-in for what I hoped to be the new heavyweight champion of my walls.

It had been so long since I hosted a similar fish, numbers were bouncing around in my head. My first trophy weighed in at a little over nine pounds, and he was just 22 inches in length. As I marveled at this newest conquest, I began to doubt that it would surpass that mark. It just wasnít the same girth as the previous monster, which was caught in the spring, with an extremely full belly. Was it just my imagination, or had the fish began to shrink? It was almost like the fish was sucking its gut in, just like I do when Iím getting my picture taken or when Iím shirtless at the swimming pool. While this fish was plenty healthy, it appeared to have been on a better physical fitness regime or some form of diet. Just my luck, I catch the health food nut of the aquatic world.

By the time the scales arrived via four wheeler, I was pretty certain there was no hope for this fish being trophy number two. My doubts were proven true rather quickly as the little digital calculator spat out some pretty small figures. Iím embarrassed to say that the bass didnít even break six pounds.

Either I need to get better at guestimating fish weight, or maybe I should start weighing myself on that scale. Either way Iím going to have to start shopping for some new picture frames.

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