The Study Break
My wife took the kid to work with her to
leave me some peace and quiet so I could
study. That Masters stuff was tough and I
needed all the study time I could get. They
left out the door at 11:30, at 11:40 I had
the pontoon boat in the venerable fishing car,
along with a selection of rods and new flies
to try out.
By Frank Reid
Got to the lake by noon. There was a bit of
a wind picking up but not too bad, about 10
to 15 knots. I filled one bladder on the pontoon
boat and while starting to fill the other, the
wonderful, new car-battery-powered inflator
crapped out. No worries Mate, I had a small
hand pump for just such emergencies.
Unfortunately, I forgot the old trick of "try
it at home first stupid." Pump, pump, pump.. gasp,
gasp, gasp. It was like powering the QEII with
a Briggs and Stratton.
After trying to beg a few shots of pure O2
from the paramedics having a picnic there (no
dice), I was ready for another attempt. But
first, I tried to convince them that I could
fill the thing up with all that extra oxygen
on the ambulance. Again, a big no.
As an analyst, I sat back and surveyed the
situation, ran a Franklin T and chucked the
whole damn thing back into the wagon. I would
just fish from the bank.
This unnamed lake contained some state record
size smallies that were stocked in there the
previous year. I'd caught 4 in the 1 to 3 lb
range earlier in the week in the shallows with
a crawfish pattern. The water was very low and
all the shore structure was revealed. I went
to a point and climbed out on to an old,
3-foot-diameter cement culvert pipe to see if
I could spot any fish in the shallows. I did
see some movement about 20 feet away but couldn't
tell if it was bass, carp or drum.
I cast to the spot with an unweighted size 14
nymph and stepped back. As I checked my footing
I heard a muffled crack that I also felt through
my feet. My movement must have broken loose the
pipe from its position (it was just there as
fill cement) and I immediately started an ESPN
quality log rolling demonstration. The pipe
started to spin down the side of the point and
the water was coming up fast. With about 6 inches
of pipe left above the water it finally stopped.
Outdoor Games, here I come! I decided discretion
was the better part of valor and attempted to
vacate my post. I was thankful that I'd been
wearing my new water shoes as opposed to my old
clodhoppers. Gave me a much better feel as that
monster rolled under me. I stepped off the pipe
and the rock I stepped on rocked under my foot
and I dropped straight down, straddling that
culvert pipe like a bull rider.
Since I was wearing shorts, I immediately discovered
what cement can do to the inside of your thighs.
I also killed a ground squirrel when that disk
went shooting out of my spine. I did find out
that bone is actually harder than cement, because
my tailbone imbedded itself in that culvert
like a well placed piton.
By this time, the paramedic picnic crew was
starting over to check on the old fart nailed
to the pipe like a congressman on pork. I
waved them away and stood up smiling. Well,
at least I thought it was a smile, but probably
looked more like the grimace of a rabid baboon.
I finally got to my feet and moved to more
During this whole thing, I still had my line
in the water and noticed that it was moving
of its own volition. I had a fish on the line
and a fight on my hands. It wasn't moving that
fast so I figure it was a drum.
I got the fish on the reel and fought it in.
Turned out to be about a 14 inch catfish.
I got him up by my feet and reached into my vest
for the pliers. At this instant, the little S.O.B.
flipped over and spiked me in the ankle.
Gosh, I'm glad I was wearing my new water
shoes as opposed to my old clodhoppers. My
old clodhoppers would have stopped that
little @$#%^& and allowed me to stomp it
into fish meal. As it was, I reached down
and unhooked the wretch and flipped him back
in the water.
Again, the analyst in me took over and I
sat back (well stood back, as sitting was
out of the question), and surveyed the
situation. Less than 15 minutes at the
lake, my boat half inflated, compressor
needs Viagra, hamburger meat for thighs,
tailbone snapped with the Berlin Wall
stuck to my butt, S shape of spine
reversed, festering wound in ankle,
one fish caught.
Then again, one cast, one fish. Makes
the day a success in my book. ~ Frank Reid
Born and raised in Southern California, my mother
taught me to love fishing. I would fish from the
piers around Los Angeles as all my friends hung out
on the beach. At age 19, I joined the U.S. Air
Force to see the world and liked what I saw, so
stayed in for 23 years, finally retiring in 2000.
I've lived and fished all over the US and the globe,
from the deserts of California to the Philippines,
Germany, South Korea, England, beautiful Omaha,
Nebraska and about 1,000 other places in between.
These travels taught me to fish for whatever happens
to be in the local water. I now work in the Baltimore
area as a computer consultant trying to earn
enough to buy that next new rod or go on that next trip.
My wife is Brenda (who's quilting addiction rivals my
fly fishing/tying obsession) and we have two lovely
daughters. ~ FR
Lighter Side Archive