Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Fish Stories

This weekend some buddies and I drove up to Northern Wisconsin to go on an all out, alcohol infused, no holds barred, fishing trip. One of those trips where before anyone even steps foot in the cabin everyone agrees that no one will mention a thing about their respective jobs. No war stories about all those papers you stapled and collated, or that really unproductive meeting you went to a week ago, or even about the contents of the boring brown paper bag lunch you brought in to work on Wednesday. Just a lot of drinking and fishing, with a handful of off color remarks thrown in-between.

So I'm sure you know how it works, correct? You get in a boat and drive off to a spot that you're friend guarantees is going to be the "ultimate fishing spot." Usually the reasons for him deeming it "the ultimate spot" come down to these 3 things.
  1. He just has "that feeling," you know? i.e. he feels it in his bones and such.
  2. His electronic fish finder with a cheesy LCD screen shows a school of Walleye swimming by in 8-bit, old school, Atari graphics.
  3. There happens to be a few girls in Bikinis sun tanning at a nearby dock.

And you once you get to that "spot," you open your cheap, without a doubt, going to break by the end of the day, Styrofoam cooler, and start to drink beer like it's your job. Which is good cause it gives you something to talk about, since you're forbidden to talk about your actual place of employment.

Then you set up your fishin' pole, throw on a bobber, tie on the hook, stab a nightcrawler a few times with it, and then cast the thing off into the water somewhere, or if you're completely and utterly lazy you just just drop the line down right next to boat. One hand on the pole, the other hand on the beer. Working in harmony together, drink, jig, drink, jig, drink, jig, drink, jig, until either a fish takes off with your bait, leaving you with an empty hook, or until you get soo fed up with staring down at your bobber, that you put down the pole and see what you're buddy will do if you throw a nightcrawler at him. Which is usually, punch you.

And somewhere in this drunken mess of misguided, sloppy casting, numerous pisses off the side of the boat, and ridiculous slurred conversation on various topics, you sometimes get lucky and actually catch something.

His name was Old Gus. The old fisherman at the Marina Bar said he was at least 117 years old by their calculations and that the last man to successfully catch this 20 lb large mouth bass went by the name of One Eyed Frank. Back in the 1967 Frank singlehandedly caught ole' Gus with nothing more than a 4lb test line with an empty can of Pabst Blue Ribbon tied on the end. He relentlessly fought that fish for 2 straight days, and by the time the sun had set on the 2nd day, Gus had been defeated.

Frank, gasping for breath pulled the mammoth fish into the boat and promptly passed out from exhaustion. When he awoke Gus was gone and all that was left for proof was a rough sketch of the fish that Frank desperately scribbled out on a cocktail napkin. Unfortunately no one in the town believed him though because he really sucked at drawing. But the old timers said they still believed him, because they could see the fear in his eyes.

They said it couldn't be done. They said don't waste your time. They said that Gus had been terrorizing fisherman for more than 30 years, and that some of the best fisherman in the world had succumbed to the power of "the Gus."

That is until I stepped foot into my buddy's dad's fishing boat, with a case of Old Style beer, a cheap fishing pole and a tin of half dead worms from the local bait shop. Two hours into the trip I perfectly cast my line right into the lilypads that the old fisherman in the bar said were Gus's "hangout." Within minutes I was in for the fight of my life. 20 minutes and two spilled beers later, I had reeled in the impossible catch. When we pulled into the dock, there was a huge celebration at the Marina and shortly after the townfolk carried me on their shoulders into the center of town.

or if you want to get technical about it, I caught a few, very small, pathetic pan fish in two full days of fishing. But I can assure you that I was not sober.

and sometimes that's all that counts.

like when you really suck at fishing, for instance.