Hook, Line and Sinker
Despite her initial reluctance, this bookworm discovered the allure of a day spent fishing
Reluctantly lured into participating in a fishing derby, this landlubber ended up having a whale of a time!
Ah, another blissful vacation on Manitoulin Island, our 35th year enjoying the innocent beauty of this quiet, unassuming island. Mother Nature had been in a foul mood for the past few days, venting her anger in the form of cold, wind and rain, but the sun had finally pushed its way through the clouds and I was taking full advantage of a warm, delightful day.
Comfortably seated in a lawn chair, sipping a glass of wine and engrossed in a compelling mystery novel, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Looking up, the smiling face of longtime friend and island buddy Georgie came into view. Lucky woman, she happens to own a sweet little cottage right next door to our island resort. I use the term “resort” loosely, as the site comprises several aged, quaint, weatherworn cottages, but it’s situated on a piece of property overlooking one of the most magnificent lake views on the island.
We were happily chatting away, reminiscing about past vacations, when she casually mentioned she had put my name on an entry form for a bass derby tournament—just for a donation, mind you—as the money went to a charitable cause and the fee included a fish fry the following day. I expressed my gratitude, as I have enjoyed the “next day’s” activities many times in the past.
The conversation gets a little blurry at this point. I attribute the confusion to sunstroke and several glasses of wine enjoyed during the course of the afternoon. By the time she left, I had somehow agreed to actually enter the tournament with her. I swear my brain must have ceased to function for a few moments.
NO WAY OUT
Now don’t get me wrong: I like fishing, but my version may cause others who also enjoy the sport to shake their heads in dismay. After applying several layers of sunscreen, I usually sit back on a cushioned seat in our boat, absorbing the warm rays of the sun. Meanwhile, my husband indulgently baits my hook because I just can’t seem to get over the feel of those slimy, icky, wiggling worms. He then hands me my rod and I expertly (my word not his) cast the line into the water. No hurry; it’s very relaxing and I always bring a book along to read. If I’m rudely interrupted and a fish actually has the nerve to nibble on my baited hook, I jump up and vigorously reel in the line. Believe it or not, sometimes I do get lucky and have caught some pretty big fish. This means, however, that my husband will once again have to rebait my hook. Not to worry, I just hand my rod over to him and he willingly drops his own line and graciously completes the task, smiling all the while. Okay, I might have exaggerated the willing, gracious and smiling part a bit, well maybe a lot, but I have a partner who is very tolerant with his less-than- savvy-fishing wife. Also, there is a limit to the length of time I can devote to this form of recreational activity. Patience has never been one of my virtues. Fishing for a couple of hours is one thing, but from dawn to
dusk in a derby is quite another.
The next day, I walked over to Georgie’s cottage, confident I could talk my way out of this perplexing predicament.
“Now listen dear,” I said, patting her hand, “you know me and I can’t ask you to bait my hook all day and take the fish off. Getting up at 6 a.m. and staying out until 8 p.m. is also a problem. But don’t feel bad about not wanting me for a partner; I understand completely.”
That should discourage her, I thought, but thoughts can be deceiving. I walked away in a daze. What happened? What went wrong? How was I still in this blasted tournament?
All I can say is everyone should be lucky enough to have a friend like mine. Not only had Georgie agreed to bait my hook and disengage any fish I couldn’t, but we could start whenever I wished and come in at any time. I had run out of excuses; poor girl, she must badly want to enter this tournament.
As the big day drew near, strategy was discussed and we decided to start at 10 a.m. and come in whenever we, or realistically I, got tired. One other thing I forgot to mention: For the past few years, the weather on the day of the tournament has been less than favourable. In fact, it’s been just plain nasty. It was duly noted I would not venture out of the cottage, let alone onto the water, unless the day was warm, sunny and calm. Those three-foot waves are not my cup of tea. I’m sure by now that smile must have been pasted onto Georgie’s face.
THE BIG DAY
Sitting around the campfire the night before the big event, we listened intently, absorbing as much information as possible, while my husband and his fellow tournament buddies discussed their own plans. The word leech kept popping up in the conversation. Now if you think I don’t like the idea of handling a worm, guess what the idea of baiting my hook with a leech does to my noggin. A sense of foreboding filled the air as my husband, being the thoughtful fella he is, presented me with a container of these nasty critters. I turned to Georgie, a look of horror on my face, and was met with—you guessed it—that ever present smile.
The weather on the day of the tournament was picture perfect. Crap. Trotting down to the lake armed with my fishing rod, tackle, sunscreen and a bag full of treats— I was at least going to eat well— I joined my fishing partner in her boat and off we went, skimming over the shim- mering, blue waters of Lake Kagawong. Georgie soon steered the craft to a location that was apparently known as a good bass hole. Asking my opinion on the matter, I answered quite confidently that it looked perfect. I didn’t have a clue.
The fish started biting as soon as we dropped our lines into the water. They were rather small, but Georgie insisted we put them in the live well anyway.
“There’s a trophy for the mystery weight, you know.” The derby rules stipulate that a maximum of six fish are weighed and must be able to swim away when released, so I was kept busy taking fish out of the live well and replacing them every time we caught a larger fish.
Unfortunately, throughout the day, the moms and dads kept eluding our lines and left behind their ravenous babies. Georgie was true to her word, though, and kept baiting my hook without complaint.
Surprisingly, the day went by quickly and even though we were unable to catch any bass worth bringing in to weigh, it was a wonderful opportunity to spend a pleasurable day with a good friend whose inner strength and kindness amazes me. I also realized I had more patience than anticipated, got a nice tan and my husband said he was very proud of me. I’m sure he thinks he’ll be able to talk me into finally putting a worm on my own hook. As previously mentioned though, thoughts can be deceiving. n Far left: Sunset on Lake Kagawong; Betty (left) and Georgie had a great time spending the day out on Georgie’s boat.