Find a Way To Follow!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Epic Fishing Trip Part 2: The Lucky Hat

After leaving Bennet Springs (Behold Part 1!), my uncle Mike and I ventured to Busch Conservation. We planned to spend a full and long day fishing, and I looked forward to it. It would be my first time fishing without Dad, which gave me a freedom of sorts. Of course, after being thoroughly humiliated by the trout, I was also looking for some redemption. What I would find were more memories, only marginally about the fish.

Mike introduced me to a concept that I wasn’t prepared for: Oh-dark:thirty. Waking up before the dawn to start the day. I’ve since become acquainted with this sinister entity, and it holds no sway on me. But in those days, I had no resistance to its insidious power. I slept in the truck as we made the drive, my head bouncing softly off the window like a plus size paddleball. I’d dressed for the heat of the summer day, not realizing that 4 am in July is freaking chilly. The gym shorts were not up to the task, and my teeth chattered lightly in staccato counterpoint to the steady thud of my cranium on the window.

We arrived and selected one of the numbered lakes, number 5 if I recall correctly. I discovered the unique joy of baiting a hook while shivering…pro tip: your fingers are not bait. Neither is your pinky toe, nor any other extremity attached. There is no shame in asking an uncle to bait your hook, as long as you are currently in the icy grip of hypothermia. Otherwise; man up, Suzie. I thought longingly of long pants, which seemed somehow sinful given the summer-ness of the coming day. My uncle taught me the first lesson of the day. “Layers.” In one word, he’d conveyed a cool century of wisdom.

The sun began to rise, crawling into the sky slowly. I encountered a moment of peace, listening to the birdsong drifting across the lake’s surface. An occasional set of ripples marked the water, evidence of the fish beginning to snatch insects for breakfast. Mike and I continued to cast, searching for our first bite of the morning. He pointed out to the opposite bank, and I watched, fascinated, as a snake swam toward our side of the lake. I’d never seen a snake swim before, and it held my interest. Also, I began to cook up an idea. It bears mentioning that my uncle Mike is afraid of snakes. And not your run of the mill afraid, but your get-these-motherfuckin’-snakes-off-this-motherfuckin’-plane style of fear.

The snake obliged, diving into the middle of the lake to go about his snakely business. I’m not sure what that business was, but it may have involved a trip to Cancun. Probably not, though, given the beauty of the place.

Mike unwittingly gave me the perfect setup to enact my instigatory impishness about five minutes later.
“I wonder where that snake went?” he opined.
I pointed to the ground directly at his feet. “You mean that one right there?”
Mike cleared at least a 2 foot vertical from a stand still, and I’m pretty sure his knees didn’t bend…his fear seemed to have temporarily gifted him with the power of levitation.
“Aaarrghhhaaaaahhhhh!!!!!!” was my uncle’s dignified reply, screamed in the tone of a little girl who is currently falling off a pony into a pile of killer clowns and rabid badgers.

As I struggled to get my giggling under control, Mike hollered at me “Don’t forget your momma gave me permission to whip you, boy!” The threat rang empty as I watched the corners of his mouth twitch involuntarily into a smile.

We spent another hour at this lake with a grand total of zero nibbles between us, and Mike made the command decision to move on to a different lake. With some 30 to choose from, surely we could find one where the fish weren’t quite so lethargic. We wanted to find the bass with the sin of gluttony, not sloth.

We set up at another lake, and quickly got to work. My uncle looked at me appraisingly and decided I was ready to graduate from worm and hook, and opened his tacklebox. There, in the top tray, was his Favorite Bass Plug. He quickly situated it on my line, giving me a crash course in its use.

“Be careful with that, though. It’s my favorite. It pulls them little bastards right out their honey hole.” I vowed to be careful, and began casting, under Mike’s watchful eye, into some tight spots in order to lure out a lunker.

That summer, I’d been wearing a beat up baseball cap I’d purchased a couple of years previous as a souvenir in the Ozarks. It had seen better days, and had a layer of dirt on it that only a teenage boy can discover, let alone apply to a garment. Mike had been eyeing it dubiously all day.

“Why do you wear that dirty thing?” he queried.

“I like it.”

“Fair enough.”

And we kept fishing. A moment of abject terror came upon me as I missed a cast, hanging my uncle’s Favorite Bass Plug in some branches, inches over the water. I pointed out my folly. Mike responded without rage, thankfully, and took the rod from my hands. “I’ll get her out”, he said. And he tugged mightily. The bass plug came free. My eyes tracked it as it flew forth, freed from its imprisonment amongst the mulberries.

Deep in my monkey-brain, beyond conscious realization, computations were happening at the speed of thought. Chemicals moved and bonded as mathematical trajectories were computed. Alarm bells went off in my mind, and triggered my get-the-fuck-out-of-the-way reflex. The bass plug was seeking its revenge.

I had just enough time to turn my head, ducking my chin as well to lower my face. I felt and heard a thump against the bill of my hat. I raised my head, to see the bass plug’s two treble hooks dangling just 2 inches in front of my right eye, one hook seated firmly into the bill of the hat. It swung tauntingly in front of my face, and I gave Mike my best poker face.

“I guess that’s why you wear that hat, huh,” he said, deadpan.

I struggled to control my pulse, my breath, and my desire to completely freak out. I had to nail this reply, for the good of all young teenagers everywhere.


Mike grinned, and dubbed the filthy cap my lucky fishin’ hat. It would be years before I’d wear any other hat while fishing.

The day continued, and the newly minted Lucky Fishin’ Hat performed admirably. I began to wreak havoc on the bass of the lake, including one that grabbed the plug and started running with it a mere half-second from the cast. We watched a pair of drunk hillbillies snag a log and spend a half hour trying to reel it in, convinced it was a huge catfish. We joked and jibed, and just generally had one hell of a good time.

When the time came to finally call it a day, we packed our gear into the truck. I looked back at the water with great reluctance, but knew by the weariness in my arms it was time to go. We rode back to my uncle’s house with no music in the truck cab except for our laughter as we recalled the day. After a time, that music was replaced by a soft snoring as my head became reacquainted with the passenger window.

There’s a reason they don’t call it catching. The joy is in the fishing.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Epic Fishing Trip part 1: Little Yellow Spinner Bait

One of the things I find missing from my adult life is the simple joy of fishing. When I was young, I used to enjoy dropping a line in the water, though admittedly I’d get a little bit frustrated on days when the fish weren’t biting. And by frustrated, I mean enter a China Syndrome style meltdown that made fishing an opportunity to gain Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for anyone in a 120 yard radius…until the fateful fishing trip where I gained that primal, y-chromosome understanding of the zen of fishing. There’s a reason they don’t call it “catching fish”…that’s not where all of the fun is. My best fishing memories don’t really involve the fish at all.

Everything changed on the Epic Fishing Trip. This particular trip was long ago, and I had just entered the teen years. Filled with the certain knowledge that I knew everything, and would change the world, I was taken on a vacation to Bennett Springs, a great trout fishery in Missouri. My imminent solving of the world’s problems would have to wait, as there were surely some rainbow trout that were about to board the Frying Pan Express. I’d spent weeks discussing method with my Dad and his best friend, and been gifted with the Holy Grail of trout-catching tools, the Little Pink Yarn Bug.

The idea of the Little Pink Yarn Bug seemed to be that it would resemble nothing at all natural on the gods’ oh-so-green-earth, it being a bait-by-Barbie lure that perhaps Dad’s friend had gotten from Mary Kay. Perhaps the key to this lure is in the name Rainbow Trout…did Don assume the fish were gay, and thus unable to resist the fabulous nature of his lure? In any case, he assured me it was his Secret Weapon, spoken of with a reverent tone and hinting at the destructive nature of a hydrogen bomb. I was about to engage project: Troutmageddon. Or so I thought.

The original plan for the trip was a 5 day trout catching extravaganza at the Springs, with my parents and my aunt and uncle. This would change over the coming days.

Day 1 was a slow day. It crawled by with all the enthusiasm of a tortoise with a sprained ankle, which has also gotten fucking baked on a joint laced with ludes. Day 2 was slower. The trout, schooling in the pristine water, seemed immune to my persuasion. They would scoff at my lures and baits; and it may just be my imagination, but I seem to recall a group of them giggling at me while gingerly taking filet mignon off another fisherman’s line.

“What the hell is this kid using, Joe?” one of the trout surely said.

“I don’t know, Bill, but it looks like it fell off Elton John’s stage costume.”

“Well, Joe, let’s swim over to the other bank…there’s a guy over there offering up some shrimp cocktail and bourbon.”

Midway through the third day, the trout had still avoided every one of my 10,367 casts. I dropped a bare hook for a little 4 inch Ozark Sculpin to nibble on just to pass the time. My frustration began to climb.

We moved to a spot just short of a spillway, and set up just in front of a very large school of trout. My uncle was just to the right of me. Before beginning my next assault on the enemy, I had a sit down on a rock by the stream, taking my repast…an olive loaf sandwich and a bottle of IBC Root Beer. The trout had enlisted allies, though, much to my chagrin. My root beer was ruined with a wet “Spack!” as a blackbird above me relieved himself. I didn’t witness the trout high-fiving the bombardier bird, as I was busy giving my uncle the Glare of Death for his witty rejoinder…”Better thee than me, kid”. I failed to make him spontaneously combust with my mind powers, which turned out to be a good thing.

I finished my lunch and armed myself with rod and Secret Weapon, the LPYB. I cast at the rear of the school, letting the current’s drift carry the bug across the water, twitching it ever so slightly that it would resemble a struggling insect on the stream’s surface. Masterfully, like an artisan, I reeled the slack in at just the perfect rate, not too slack, not too taut. My uncle and I began to joke and taunt each other in an age old ritual of fishermen everywhere, bragging about the fish we would catch next.

I looked away from the bug, smiling at my uncle. I felt it. A sharp tug on the line, like a bolt from Zeus! Without hesitation, I pulled mightily to set the hook and prepared for the struggle. It was legendary, tugging against me like a Leviathan with…a steady pressure? No turns, no breaks, just steady resistance? My heart began to sink as I realized what had happened. My epic struggle to retrieve a rainbow trout would have to wait at least another cast, as a jackass on the opposite fucking bank had crossed my line.

I reeled in our tangled hooks…my bug, and his spinner bait. My jaw dropped, as the spinner was the cheapest piece of crap I’d ever laid eyes on. It was yellow, and had writing on it proclaiming the location of a local insurance agent. In no way did it resemble a fish…more a cheap Bic pen with a treble hook and a spinner spoon attached.

A small aside here…Trebec, I’ll take Original Sin for $1200.
Answer: Amongst fishermen, more egregious than fucking their wives when they’re not looking.
The question: Casting across someone’s line. Thank you, Alex.

It’s just not done. You look before you cast, and target places where there is no line in the water. Especially when tossing a bait that requires you reel it in quickly, i.e. the spinner. I’ve watched an 84 year old man rearrange a 20-year-old’s dentistry over this topic. Purposely crossing someone’s line is like sending them an engraved invitation to rape your pet wolverine. It is guaranteed not to end well.

I untangled the offending spinner, firing my eye lasers on their low setting at the fishing Philistine. He sat unfazed, and retrieved his line as I let the little yellow spinner bait fall from my fingers with a pronounced “plop!” He reeled it back in, properly chastened. Or so I thought.

I set to, concentrating on the trout, with one eye scanning above me constantly for blackbirds in their employ. You can’t be too careful. Cast. Drift. Reel in the slack. Cast. Drift. Reel. For the next few minutes, I lost myself in the rhythm of it. I looked away again, as my uncle complimented me on my technique. The glow of pride was interrupted as I felt the line jump! I set the hook and started dragging away, and spared a moment to look at the offensive jackass on the opposite bank to gloat at my good fortune…only to see him pulling just as hard.

Yep. Little yellow spinner bait again. Acme Insurance. 1-417-JACKASS.

I untangled our lines again, cursing a blue streak, using all the choice words I’d ever heard Dad use. Some of the younger trout covered their ears, their parent trout edging them upstream out of the range of the torrent of expletives streaming from my reddened face. My uncle giggled a bit, and pulled in a catch…a small one, but a keeper. “Better me than thee, young ‘un”. Wisdom of the Ages, that.

Back to the cast I went, sure I would follow my uncle’s example and pull in a fish this time. One cast. Two. Three, and there it was: the primal feel, the tug, the set!...and watching the jackass pull his rod sharply in perfect concert with mine. He’d crossed my line a third time, which is three times too many. I gave my uncle a look, and he stepped behind me. As I pulled the little yellow spinner bait in for its third trip to me, I pulled my clippers off my fishing vest, and slowly opened them.

As my uncle gave his own death glare from behind me, I held the spinner up for those around me to see. And then I made an example of it, with extreme prejudice. “Snip” went the clippers. “Plop” went the spinner bait, freed from its line. It settled to the bottom of the stream like a shipwreck of old. The jackass gaped, his mouth working up and down as if he was now trying to become a trout. “Better he than thee”, my uncle said. We giggled at each other in triumph.

I did not catch a fish that day, but I’d caught something else. I’d caught hold of a bit of respect from my uncle, and it showed. I beamed as he asked my Dad if he could take me for the next few days off this dismal fishing trip, and head over to a set of lakes nearby that were stocked with bass and catfish. The trout had escaped their meeting with destiny…but the trip was set to continue. I would have my redemption, if it took a stick of dynamite and a net.

I would never again use the LPYB, the so-called “secret weapon”. It never caught a fish for me, except that one 184 lb Douchefish, attached by a thin piece of monofilament to a little yellow spinner bait.

And that one, I released.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Geek update (non humor)

I know I'm late on this, see the previous post and you can infer why I haven't posted recently.
Blizzard felt the sting of tens of thousands of fans, and backed away from the rabid dog that was their...dare I say it?...Epic Fail of an idea.

Beyond the fan outcry, there was a palpable hit in the pocketbook that week of canceled accounts and canceled pre-orders of new Blizz games. Ladies and gentlemen, dollar signs ALWAYS = the short hairs. I expect there's a lot less involuntary porcupine rape in their offices this week.

Things I Hate, Volume 2

I had the fortunate opportunity to stay in a hospital room recently, though not as a patient. I was able to avail myself of a pull out couch in said room.

Now, most of you will picture the classic hide-a-bed, perhaps with some springs like loving punji stakes waiting to provide a macabre accupuncture. WRONG. This was a loveseat with a pullout slab of plywood…that comes out of the fucking SIDE OF THE COUCH. You then lay the back cushions onto this counter top to create the necessary length for a person about 5 foot 6 to lay upon comfortably. I am not 5 foot 6. I exceed this length by enough inches to be able to look upon such a piece of furniture with dubious expression and indeed, trepidation. And then I tried to lay on it.

Now understand, I have had some uncomfortable sleeping arrangements in my life. While deployed, I used an aluminum cot. While training, I used a sleeping bag on bare concrete. I’ve slept in a foxhole. All of these were luxurious in comparison.

I didn’t search for a label on the loveseat of malfeasance, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t made in China. It was likely a torture device invented by the Viet Cong. I am nearly certain that John McCain had to sleep on one of these during his stay at the Hanoi Hilton. If so, it’s a wonder he survived.

I awoke with more aches and pains than the Detroit Lions front line accumulates in a season. The crick in my neck was so severe the nurses almost admitted me to ER against my will. It was all I could do to resist the fucking urge to yell “Sanctuary!!!!” at the top of my lungs.

And so, as I have recovered from my stay, I salute you Futon of Death. But I salute you with one finger. Guess which one. May you be replaced with adult sized boppy pillows.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Geek Topic of the Day (not humor)

A bit of a departure from my humor format, but hey...if it stands, this may well lead me to a very long Things I Hate post.
I am floored by the absolute storm of rage that Blizzard created today for their World of Warcraft fans. This news posted yesterday, and as of 12 seconds ago there were 25,800+ posts on the largest topic thread ever to grace those very forums.
The gnashing of teeth is loud enough that it may, in fact, register in Richter rather than decibels. It's an interesting move on their part, and not without the feedback is showing.
There are well over 20 news stories already, and so they get some free publicity. But it bears wondering...are they going to lose a large amount of subscribers over this?
It's a very, very big change. And privacy concerns are something that resonate, especially with the "ejeet hax0rs" out there phishing and hacking and keylogging the WoW community.
I can't imagine taking such a risk. I like parachutes when I skydive, and folding when I have a losing hand. I do not like being raped by a rabid porcupine, which is what I imagine some of those dealing with this situation feel like.

Spread the Love

Hey post in the works, but I wanted to pop on here and say...
I like to write, but I need a reason!
This ends my shameless plea for attention. We now return you to your regularly scheduled funny.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...