Friday, September 26, 2008


The evening news the night before said that there would be a front passing through the state in the wee hours of the morning. They were right, the thunder in the distance, approaching rapidly, caused Dillon to whine nervously by the bed. It was Dillon’s way of saying something is going on outside. Sliding his hand from under the warmth of the covers, he patted him on the head in a reasuring manner. “Its ok, buddy”, he said. The wind picked up just ahead of a spanking shower, then abated as the shower passed over. A typical Spring thunder shower, it lasted about forty five minutes, he thought. Peering through a partially closed eyelid, he checked the time. It was 0430 hours, the alarm was set for 0500 hours. He heard Dillon scratch at the motorhome door, wanting to go out. Letting Dillon out then pushing the button on the coffee maker, he checked the temperature on the outside thermometer. Fifty six degrees, not too bad he thought, as Dillon let him know that he was ready to come back inside. Letting Dillon back in, he took a quick look around the campsite. No tree damage, just a few tender spring leaf clusters strewn about.It was fifteen minutes until the alarm was set to go off when he stepped outside. The Spring shower could be heard off in the distance, thunder was occasionaly accented with fading flashes of lightning. “By the time the sun comes up, he thought, it will be completely stunning.” “The freshly washed air will be positively brilliant !
Tugging on the anchor line he pulled Harm’s Weigh in from it’s anchored out position to begin the morning’s chores.Everything was wet from the rain. The wind had blown enough that even under the bimini top, all was wet. Retrieving a dry towell from under the sundeck, he began to wipe down the seats and windshield. As the bilge pump gurgled that the bilge had been emptied of rain water, he turned the pump switch off and looked up. He hadn’t heard them walking up, the marine weather radio had been on and he was busy wiping down the boat.“What was that goofy tune you were humming ?’, his wife said. Flipping the purge fan on before he got ready to start the engine, he said, “He, he, I didn’t realise I was humming.”The exciting prospect of the first mornings catch was evident on everyone’s face as the ladies boarded the boat and his buddy began to make ready to cast off. With a deep rumble, the throaty exhaust sound of the inboard motor broke into a smooth throbbing idle. Checking the gauges one last time he knodded to his buddy who cast off the anchor line. Idling smoothly out into the channel, they were facing West away from the pending sunrise. The boat was down the channel quite a ways when the gauges told him that it was time to bring the boat up on plane. Opening the throttle up, after a quick glance around to insure that nothing would be blown out or anyone caught off ballance, the large deck boat came quickly up on plane.That is when it passed them with the speed of light. The first rays of the sunrise shot past them down the channel, illumnating the distant mountain on the far side of the lake. The brilliant explosion of light was a welcome and warming experience. It was as if the lake was saying to them, “come and get your fish !”After the storm the lake had smoothed out untill it had the texture of glass. The sunrise had illuminated the water around them with the color of old tarnished brass, the water was nearly golden as they skimmed towards the distant jugs.Entering out into the main body of the Lake they immediately saw the first jug, it was laying flat on the slick water. Not a good sign. A jug with a fish on it would be standing up and “waving” at them. Standing in the bow with a large dip net, his buddy signaled, “scoop it up on the fly”. All on the boat were scanning the water for the sight of a yellow jug waving in the air. Cutting the throttle back to a idle the boat glided smoothly up near the jug. As his buddy scooped up the “looser” jug, his wife said, “THERE’S A WAVER !” The sunshine was reflecting off of the yellow antifreeze jug, making it shine in the morning light. Nearly a quarter of a mile away up the lake, the jug could be seen to be waving at them. It was like the jug was signaling, “FISH ON, HURRY !” The recovered looser jug was stowed safely away and they accellerated down the lake towards the jug with the fish on it.Nearing the jug they could see that the jug was not only waving, it was moving. And it was moving upstream against the lakes current. The jug was moving fast enough that it was making a small wake in the water. ” WHOooEEe !, his buddy yelled, this could be a good one !” Though he was yelling into a thirty mile an hour wind created by the boat’s speed, you could hear the excitement in his voice. The excitement was contagious, it swept over all in the boat as they approached the jug. Dillon was in the bow of the boat barking at the moving jug, he would soon be in the way. “Here, sit”, brought Dillon to his side, out of the way at the control console of the boat. A fish that could move a jug at that kind of speed may require some finnesse to land.Chopping the throttle, the boat glided quickly up to the jug. Standing in the bow, with his lifejacket on, his buddy extended the large dip net towards the jug to dip it up. Almost magicly, the jug dissappeared and the wake stopped. When his buddy turned to address those in the boat, a look of supprise on his face, he said, “we may need all hands on this one !”Quiet, very quiet, settled on the boat as it glided to a stop. Then suddenly the jug reappeared, well ahead of the boat and upstream quite a ways. It was clear to all aboard that the trolling motor was not going to be able to keep up with this fish ! He had a “set” to his jaw as he put the motor in forward to pursue the jug.The jug was surging with each powerful stroke of the fish’s tail. Idle speed on the powerful inboard motor was not enough to catch the jug. Raising the speed a little, they began to close the distance to the fleeing jug. He yelled to his buddy, “lay down ! I don’t want to loose you if I have to suddenly cut the throttle !”As the boat closed the gap and the dip net neared the jug, it dissappeared again !This time he didn’t completely cut the throttle. He just brought it back to an idle. Thirty long seconds later the jug popped up right in front of his buddy ! Quickly his friend scooped up the jug into the net. He immediately cut the throttle. Reaching for the handle of the jug, his friend was astonished when the powerful fish suddenly pulled the jug back out of the net , before he could get a hand on it !“Is someone getting this on a camera ?”, he yelled. It was then that they realized the only camera aboard that morning was his cellular telephone.They all looked at him when he said, ” were going to have to slow down a bit or we are going to loose this fish, or worse yet, someone could get hurt”.The jug had widened the distance while they rethought their approach to landing the fish. Staying near the still fast moving jug, they quickly brain stormed the situation. Then they were ready, the next approach began.Pulling his cell phone from the bib of his overalls, he got it ready, then laid it on the boat’s console.The whole crew was at the ready this time. Two dip nets and a long paddle with a rounded retrieval hook on the end. The approach was a bit different, slower, quieter, steadier than before. Confidently they approached the still quickly moving jug. It didn’t work this time either.By now they are talking about, “what if he’s over fifty pounds ?” Their usual procedure was to photograph a really big fish and put him back in the lake. Their belief was that the older fish just didn’t taste as good and wasn’t worth all the work that it took to clean them.The plan for the next try was to not net the jug, but to quickly hook the line below the jug, then quickly pull the line in until the handle of the jug could be grabbed. It worked ! Jubilation and high fives passed around the boat.Well under fifty pounds, he weighed in at thirty seven, and tasted just fine.
Yes, this was going to be an exemplary week at the lake !

No comments: