Hook, Line and Sinker

De­spite her ini­tial re­luc­tance, this bookworm dis­cov­ered the al­lure of a day spent fish­ing

Our Canada - - News - By Betty Pope­lier, Oil Springs, Ont.

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.

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