Friday, September 26, 2008


The honey buns had ran out first, then the coffee. Although they were elated that their first catch of the morning had been a good thirty seven pounder, the catch was going slow after that. The jugs were scattered far and wide. They had picked up jugs with smaller fish that they immediately returned to the lake, and they had kept a couple of the better ones. But it had taken quite a bit of time and the morning was wearing on. As the light had changed and lake mist had cleared, the jugs became easier to see in the distance. Yet, there were still a couple of jugs out and they were searching for them. They knew that if the jugs were out of the area where they had been cast, and they weren’t down wind, a fish had likely moved them.It was their belief that if they had baited and released a jug, and a fish had taken it, that they had a responsibility. The responsibility was to the fish that had been caught, as well as others who might be out on the lake.As they slowly patrolled the lake looking for the missing jugs, they rounded the point at Daisy State Park, waving to campers there.Nearing the Kirby Landing Marina, they slowed to a idle looking for the errant jugs. The “no wake” area was wide at that point, so it took a little bit to idle up near the large houseboats. They may have actually heard it before they saw it. A large dog from one of the houseboats was out on the fore deck watching the bright yellow jug as it kept bumping, and bumping, up against the houseboat’s hull. As Harm’s Weigh idled closer, Dillon began to bark at the other dog on the bow of the houseboat.Almost near enough to dip up the jug, Captain Al who was holding the dip net, saw a curtain move in the window. Cupping a hand to his mouth he hailed the houseboat. “Fish on a jug”, he hailed. They never saw a face or even a person. Just a hand that waved then gave a quick thumbs up sign before the curtain dropped. As they dipped up the still bumping jug, the door on the houseboat opened to let in the dog.The fish was a striper with plenty of energy. Using a large pair of needlenose pliars, the fish was released. They were catfishing. There was nothing wrong with the striper, they just preferred catfish, so they released him and went back to looking for the other jug that was still out.Idling back out towards the no wake buoy, they talked amongst them selves. “Which way now ?” “The far side maybe ?” “How about Arrowhead Point ?” “We have recovered jugs way up there before”As they cleared the no wake zone they quickly came up on plane and accelerated towards Arrowhead Point.Out of coffee, out of honey buns, and one jug left to recover, the search was nearing the end.Closing in on the Arrowhead Point swim beach area, the jug could be seen waving as they approached. Netting the jug and placing the fish into the live well, they began to celebrate the successful morning of fishing. As the deck boat raced across the lake, the sounds of Led Zepplin’s “Black Dog” echoed across the water. Speeding down the lake, the crew of the boat pulled hats lower and zipped up wind breakers, though it was mid morning by now, it was quite cool at that speed. Later as they neared the campground, he slowed to an idle to enter the inlet, turning Led Zepplin’s “Paint it black” down low and focusing on making a smooth landing.Nearly everyone else had already returned to camp and were watching for the late arrivals. It usually meant a good catch or trouble finding all of the jugs. Everybody always hoped for a good catch and would be watching to see what was produced from the live well.As the ladies stepped off of the boat, he began to grin broadly. He knew which one his friend would bring out of the livewell first. He was right. The neighbors always came down to the boats to admire a good fish and this was no exception. Although the big catfish was no real monster, he was a goodun’ and it caught folks attention.
Mountainborn lifts a good one out of the livewellOne oldtimer launched a long brown stream of tobacco juice, then said, ” I thought I noticed the lake level fall when you hoisted him out !” The onlookers laughed and he launched a second stream. Then he said “Say !, Where did you guys cast at last night ?” Another asked, ” Bait up with bream ?” “Where are you catching your bait ? I ain’t a’ havin’ much luck nearby !”Ancient fishermen had asked the same kind of questions. Some things never seem to change. It was good to be back at the lake, and coming in late with a good catch.

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