July 12, 2007

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

I remember the good old days when fishing was my favorite form of entertainment. Used to be, If I needed a little escape from real world worries or the stress of work, I would grab a fishing pole and go hide out at my favorite pond for a little while.

Unfortunately that wasnt the case last week. Angling actually became work for me. I was designated as provider of the fish for a family reunion feast.

At first, I was elated by the news. I mean, come on, what better excuse to schedule an excessive amount of time on the water. Sorry hun, cant help do the dishes tonight, I have to catch some fish for the reunion.

That was great, for the first few outings anyway. I was so confident of my ability to fill the fish requirements that the first two times I went fishing for food, I released everything I caught. It was still over a week away, and I had more important things to do than clean fish.

But after my next scheduled outing was preempted by a meeting and the following trip was unproductive, I became a bit worried. I had only a few days until I was scheduled to fry up the big meal, and I was fillet-less.

I had messed around and made fishing like work. I was becoming a bit worried about meeting my deadline. Was I going to be able to live up to expectations?

The girls pitched in to take the edge off my impending anxiety attack. We gathered at the farm for a meal the day before the 4th. After supper I tried to sneak away to the pond to fill some of my quota, but was caught by five little girls who all wanted to fish too.

I let work get in the way of stuff like this too often, so I gave in to their puppy-eye act and hauled them all down to the waterfront. Maybe I should employ the youngsters more frequently, as they bailed me out big time. In less than an hour we had a nice bucket of fish. I use the term we, only because I was responsible for putting them in the bucket. They did all of the catching. My niece Zoey did the bulk of the catching, reeling in the biggest bass and the largest bluegill while also landing her own pole, after she accidentally made too good of a cast and launched the rig into the water.

These kids did such a fine job, I was tempted to keep their noses to the grindstone, but there is something about four year olds and sharp fillet knifes that just dont mix, so I spent the next few hours cleaning fish while the fisherwomen sat on the porch and enjoyed homemade ice cream and lightning bug chasing.

Instead of Are we there yet? I was serenaded with a chorus of Are you done yet? While I was happy to end the suspense for the peanut gallery, I was a bit disappointed by the final haul when my butchering was all said and done.

The small pile of fillets insured that I would be up at the crack of dawn on the 4th of July instead of enjoying the day off by sleeping in.

I was amazed when I was able to lasso a friend into assisting me. I used the old Mark Twain routine, telling him how much fun I was going to have painting my fence. He couldnt resist my tales of big fish and the lure of landing a lunker bass. I left out the part about having to help me clean all the fish after we were done, but those were just minor details.

We werent deterred by the sprinkles that started to fall as we traveled west of town toward our destination. Those same small raindrops were forgotten as I quickly hooked into two fish in the wake of where we had just launched the boat.

But it is just like bragging on how well behaved your kids are being. Its the kiss of death that immediately turns them into little devils. As soon as we were tricked into believing the fishing action was going to be hot and heavy, the bubble burst. The next 30 minutes were calm both on the weather front as well as without a single fish landed.

Ultimately the action broke free, on both fronts. The rain returned but so did the fish. The light rain was enough to soak us, but the fishing action made it bearable. We never landed anything over three pounds, but we were able to catch several nice bluegill and plenty of pound-size bass to fill the live well.

Fortunately we did that in about an hour, because the weather finally chased us to the shore. With the investment already made in getting up so early, we decided to wait it out in the truck.

The rain subsided but the weather didnt break. We jumped in the boat and decided to motor across the length of the large structure. Not a single cast was made, as by the time we arrived the wind had whipped up some white caps and the rain had returned. While it was no Perfect Storm, my little bass boat was doing some wake jumping as we rushed back to the trailer and called it a day.

As usual it was a whole lot of worrying for no reason at all. We had plenty of food and the fish fry was a success. I need to start planning some turkey cooks and a venison barbecue so hunting becomes work as well.

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