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One of hundreds of reasons I should not chunky dunk as often as I do in the lake

If the boat had just been ten feet closer to the dock. This is all I”m thinking. No way, I’m sure of it, if not for these miserable ten feet,  would I have ever stepped off the boat into the lake. Now look. There is something all so wet about this moment. And, as my clothing starts to weigh me down to a lake bottom I can’t touch, memories flood in between my ears.

Oh those days. How high my parents, siblings and cousins could toss me into the air before I splashed down into the lake! It was like a contest to see who could make who fly the highest. Sure, I couldn’t swim but one or two rescues later I soon learned to walk on the bottom of the lake until the water got shallow enough so my head would clear it’s surface. It’s true, back then, I thought everyone was trying to kill me. But now I see this and other attempts on my live long ago as just being varying degrees of tough love expressions, ones dished out to me in teaching sort of ways.

So I survived for this? I quickly realize my boat is still upright, bobbing over gentle lake waves.  My tackle, hundreds of lures  resting inside two fishing tackle boxes, my three fishing poles, two life jackets, flash light, horn, insect sprays, sun tan lotion, oars, gas can and motor are all safely on board. This is not to mention anything about the twenty bass I had on my stringer, the ones  I can now say got anyway during this incident.  No, I seem to be the only boat occupant who wanted to take a dip this morning. Fine. After all I’m the one who did all the work on today’s fishing trip.

Let me just tell you, even with everything in place a fishing trip is a work out. There’s plenty of casting to do. There’s plenty of eye searching for invisible fish trails in the water-some say these are just wind drifts on the water’s surface which is entirely stupid. You’ve got to drop anchor a million times as you move about the lake and hopefully successfully pull it up as many times. There’s all that rowing to do in between the stumps and when the motor won’t start. How about pulling that motor cord a few hundred times huh? We are talking chest development there fella, telling you. Catching  ten or twenty  bass in a day can get tiring too, even if thirty-one of them get away before you get them to the boat. It’s all a workout, like lifting beers, it’s all one job after another.

Working my butt off....

Oh sure. You think fishing is all about time-off, all about relaxing in the rain. Ha. Fishing is a sport-one full of activity and many bad decisions. None of it’s easy. I mean how do you get lost at night on the lake without working at it? How do you run out of gas when you have four gas cans? How do you forget your flashlight, or fishing tackle box, or the stringer, or bug spray. or hat, your rain coat, life jackets or anchor? None of this, as I say, is a walk off the dock. But most fishermen have accomplished all of these things one time or another during a fishing sport outing. During this fishing trip for me, however, I had remembered everything down to my  leather man tool and large Northern Pike pliers. Nice.

This is when I realize I can either  swim and pull my boat ten feet through the water to my dock or what else? Just as I’m thinking-it’s going to be easier to get back on board and row her in. So I tip over the boat. What? Like this hasn’t happened to you before? It’s really not that hard to do, having done this several times in my life before I can say without a doubt practice does make perfect. Grab the boat rail with your hand, hoist yourself up, and Wham!, Slam!, it’s a  flipped-over boat. Like I said-simple.

My sinkers prove they are lead, the oars miss my head, the gas can floats but why didn’t I shut my tackle boxes? You see some lures are floaters, some mid-depth runners while others are made to be sinkers. All of mine have been made just right. I’m now treading water, holding on to my upside down boat in a lake full of suspended, floating or sinking treble hooked lures. Ouch, several get me. But it’s all good-I’ve been to boy scout camp, gotten my swimming and boating  merit badge so I’m prepared for just this sort of happenstance. Maybe.

I do manage to flip the boat back upright, only filling it half with water. I begin to swim behind the boat, slowly pushing it through the water to our dock. A huge Northern slam dunks one of my floating surfaces lures to my left-of course this is not one of the lures tied on to one of my now sunken three fishing rods. Darn it!  There goes fish number thirty-two for the day! Though, to look at the bright side of it, I’m not skinny dipping right now. This fish could have added injury to my insult real fast.

Reaching the dock means a lot of bailing.  Next I have several hours of diving to do- my life jackets have not floated to far out into the lake. I  can’t say why I don’t think of using my boat to go and get them. I could be suffering from some sort of boat aversion which fishermen some times get after experiencing  a dunking episode like the one I just had. But no worries. This time of mental hardship syndrome vanishes the first time any fisherman is lying on his dock and hears a minnow jump in his  bay. Then it is sport  time on again my friend,  through rain, sleet or even through some of the first snowfalls of the year.

So when my alarm goes off the first thing I do is look for my leather man tool I keep in my dresser drawer. It’s there, not  a problem. In reality, I won’t be falling into the lake until at least this summer when I go back up North. For now it’s high and dry back to work. But I’ll tell you this: I will never, ever, not shut my tackle boxes again-no way-dreaming or not!  All the rest? Yeah-it could happen again.

You see? It is nice to be standing on the dock!

Fisherman Franque reporting.


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March 2011
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