My Fishing Days Are Done!!!!

Vacation is over and I’m back to work today.  I sampled a lot of great food and I got to fishing in Spirit Lake, Iowa, three days this past week.

It had been 30 years (my senior year in high school) when I last fished and this fishing expedition will likely be the last in my lifetime.  Okay, I may go fishing again in 30 years when I’m approaching 80 years of age if someone helps me.

On Tuesday, I went and bought my 3-day out-of-state fishing license and minnows.  The cost of this fishing expedition for me was $19.64, my birth year.  So, right off the bat, I thought that was a good sign.

While I looked forward to and enjoyed the thrill of casting my lines out and watching and waiting for a walleye sink the cork, I was more overcome with guilt that I would might be catching a nice fish and ending its life!

Nevertheless, I baited my hooks with minnows and cast them out into the lake and waited and waited and waited.

After a few hours the first afternoon, I caught my first walleye ever and released the small creature.  Down South, crappie, catfish, bluegill, and bass were the common fish that we sought out.  Walleye was more of a northern thing for me.

That one small walleye would be the only thing I would catch that afternoon.  After dinner Tuesday, I tried my luck again after dark fishing from the dock.  At that point, I caught what we called a pollywog down South, but Ray’s dad, Ray, called it a bullhead.  Basically, it was a yellow-bellied small catfish.  It went back into the lake.  Two fish caught on my first day and two fish released.  My guilt eased.

The weather Wednesday was less than desirable.  It was very cool and the clouds quickly took over and this led to a rainy afternoon.

However, I got one really good bite in the morning hours and reeled in a huge bass.  As I got her closer to the dock, I walked her down the length of dock while she was still in the water and not resisting.  I keep calling the fish a her because when I got her in, she was pregnant.

After a quick deduction that it was a bass, I took a few pictures and released her and her future babies back into the Spirit Lake.  While it looked like a bass, it was missing the black stripe down the middle of its side.  But, after analyzing it was Mom and Dad Forsythe, Donna and Ray, we concluded it was a very old bass.

Once the rain set in for the day, I gave up that evening and decided a game of “Sorry” with Gretel, Ray, and Donna, complete with caramel popcorn was a better option.

Thursday would be my final day of fishing.  I was up early and fished from the dock.  I got a bite from a long, scary pike-looking fish that followed my hook and bait all the way to the dock before biting.  After seeing the scary thing, I’m glad he didn’t hook himself.

A little later, I got a bite that turned out to be “the big one”.  Papa Ray later told me that his rods and reels had 6-8 pound test line.  I hooked this fish and made some progress reeling it closer to me.  However, one I gave it a little slack, it darted out toward the middle of the lake, snapped the line still hooked, and the cork came flying back toward me on the dock.

Papa Ray said it was likely a large pike and it just cut the line with its sharp teeth.  While I would have been intrigued to see it and see how big it was, the whole piranha-looking mouth, again, made me very happy that we never came face to face.  And, now I have a fish story about the fish that got away.

Thursday afternoon, Papa Ray took us out in the fishing boat for us to drift and try to catch a walleye that was a keeper.  Once we got out to where we wanted to fish, Gretel decided that she wanted to try her luck, too.

She had brought along “Catching Fire”, the second book in “The Hunger Game” series, if she got bored.  Ray brought his laptop and a magazine since we planned to be out on the Lake for a couple of hours.

Our lines were casts and I was ready to catch my big fish and Papa Ray wanted to move the boat and the motor wouldn’t start.  He messed around with for about 10 minutes and needed my help.  As we did one thing to the gas can, another to the bulb and the fuel line, the motor wouldn’t start and the nice puffy clouds darkened and lowered overhead.  The winds picked up and it started to rain.  At that point, my Ray and I thought we were going to have to paddle miles back to shore.  That would have been a nice exercise routine.  I wonder how many calories we would have burned doing that.

The look on Gretel’s face was priceless.  She was stranded in the middle of the lake, it was raining, and I was smiling at her trying not to laugh out loud over the whole ordeal.  She kept mouthing back at me so her grandfather couldn’t hear, “stop laughing, it’s not funny”, which made it even funnier.

At last, during this frantic period, I got a bite.  I got the walleye reeled in just as it started to pour and the boat motor started.  We hightailed it back to the dock and I was done boat fishing for this trip.  No fish was worth going back out on the lake.

Other than the guilt of catching that walleye that I was fishing for, I was forced to bait my hook with a leech.  For two days, Papa Ray told me that walleyes love leaches.  However, just watching the slimy, blood-suckers swim around in the container was enough to say, “no thanks”.  For two days, I fished with my minnows and I was content with that.

But, out on the boat, I had to “man-up” and bait my hook with one after he gruffly demanded that I do so!  Once I did, it I got over that fear and used another from the dock when we got back.

We put the fish in the livewell to keep it alive and fresh.  Here’s where the guilt took over.  As much as I loved the fried walleye sandwiches Donna made last summer when we were here, I wasn’t able to catch another fish to go with “Wally”.  I really wanted to let it go, but I had to man-up again because Papa Ray said he’d filet him later and it would be enough for two people.

I avoided looking at the fish.  I knew I was his/her executioner.  However, after the boating drama, I made no more contact with the fish until that evening when Papa Ray told me to take the bucket down to the boat and get it.  I placed the walleye in the blue bucket and placed it on the dock.  He flopped around and the bucket rattled.  My Ray was standing there on the dock watching and said it was going to knock over the bucket and get away.  Inside my heart, that’s what I was hoping would happen.  It didn’t.

And, then, it was over.  We went inside the house and had chocolate Heath bar and marshmallow malts while Papa Ray was in the garage.  We pretended we didn’t know what was happening until he came walking into the kitchen to rinse off poor Wally’s filets.  At that point, my fishing days were unofficially declared over.

At the bait shop where I bought my license and minnows, I saw a cute fisherman’s shirt that I wanted as a souvenir.

While not Catholic, I was overcome with guilt of killing that one fish, even after releasing the other three over the past two days.  I realized that I could have a fish sandwich or buy fish from the store, but I would not have that personal face-to-face, hook-to-mouth encounter with them.

On the other hand, Wally will be dinner tonight.  Ray did a fantastic job having never cooked fish or hush puppies before.  Sadly, Wally sacrificed his life but will always be remembered as a very flaky and tender walleye.

Anthony

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kimberly on June 2, 2012 at 9:41 am

    LOVED YOUR FISHIN STORIES ….I AM JEALOUS …I WANNA GOOOOOOO

    Reply

  2. Posted by AUDREY on June 2, 2012 at 10:59 am

    VERY NICE,SURE GLAD YOUR ENJOYING YOUR VACATION.ENJOY HEARING ALL YOUR STORIES KEEP THEM COMING

    Reply

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