Anything But Catching Fish
By Bob Hood
It is a good thing that fishermen learn a lot from one another. Otherwise, we would be in a heap of trouble, and we probably wouldn't be able to laugh as hard at one another.
Fishing trips, I have surmised, weren't invented as a means of going out and catching fish. They were intended to be learning experiences. The catching fish part just sort of fits into the picture one way or another and are more or less like icing on the cake, if you know what I mean.
A recent learning experience at Cedar Creek Lake with a friend I'll just call Freddy so as not to cause any embarrassment was the kind of thing that fishing trips originally were intended to be, anything but catching fish.
It started out okay, with a smooth launching of the boat at Log Cabin Estates. We had a fairly smooth ride across the lake once we sneaked under the bridge after removing the butt seat, and a pretty good view of a boat- load of bikini sunbathers aboard a big cabin cruiser about mid-lake.
It was such a nice morning, with a bright sun shining down from a blue sky with patches of white summer clouds everywhere. The water had that slight ripple on it that is so loved by bass fishermen, especially those in a hurry to get to where the fish were biting last year.
The boat zipped across the surface for three or four miles and then abruptly stopped as if some ghost of a bass hooked and not released by an angler long ago had reached through the clouds and turned off the ignition.
Silence is not golden. It's horrible. Especially when two angling buddies suddenly find themselves sitting dead in the water and staring at one another without a clue about what just happened or what to do next. We tried all of the standard motor checks, such as changing from one gas tank to another, checking the kill switch, squeezing the fuel line bulb, and praying. Nothing worked, except one of the prayers must have gotten through because the motor did start once, but died 50 yards later.
A big cabin cruiser came by and the driver asked to tow us to a marina. Unfortunately, it wasn't the same cabin cruiser we had seen at mid-lake earlier, but the trip to Don's Port Marina promised to be much more enjoyable than sitting dead in the water and staring at one another or attempting another prayer.
Don's Point Marina, for those who haven't been there, is a luxurious place with some of the finest service to be found anywhere, including some nice looking ladies who help moor boats and gas up.
At the marina, some good folks from a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary flotilla agreed to take me by boat back to the launch ramp at Log Cabin Estates so I could drive around and load the boat at Don's Port. My buddy didn't agree to hang around at the marina on the trolling motor while I went for the truck and trailer, he demanded it.
It took two and a half hours for me to get to the truck and drive around to the marina, partially because of another stranded boat call the Coast Guard Auxiliary boat answered and partially because their boat wouldn't fit underneath the bridge.
In the meantime, Freddy hung around the marina, using the trolling motor to keep out of the way of boats. Then he got hungry. A can of sardines in the boat seemed like a good hunger-buster, and he opened it.
Seconds later, he accidentally tilted the can, pouring the sardine juices down one side of his shorts, down his leg, onto his sock and into one shoe. Frustrated and somewhat embarrassed, he used the trolling motor to take the boat out of the marina area to the open water where he could change into an extra set of shorts he had placed in a boat storage box.
He had just finished stripping to nothing when he heard what he referred to later as a "hum." A big yacht carrying several women, kids and men cruised by within a few yards of him. They gave him more than a slight glance. "I didn't know those big boats could run so quietly," he said later.
Thoroughly embarrassed by the incident, he got dressed and headed back to the marina and it's single-lane boat ramp, wondering why it was taking so long for me to return with the truck and trailer.
Finally, he saw the white Chevy pickup and blue trailer at the top of the ramp. As the trailer began to be backed down the ramp, Freddy stood at the bow of the boat, waving the trailer on down the ramp with one hand and using the other to guide the boat toward the trailer with the trolling motor.
He had the trolling motor on high so he could get the boat as far as possible toward the front of the trailer. He was about 15 feet away from the trailer when he saw it - the spire tire. It was mounted flat at the front of the trailer, not on the side as he had last seen it on my trailer.
And then a redheaded man with freckles stepped out of the truck, no doubt wondering what in the world this guy was doing trying to load a boat onto someone else's trailer.
I'm not sure who was the happiest to see me when I finally showed up at the ramp my fishing buddy, or the folks at Don's Port. It was probably a toss-up.