A quest for fun. That was what Clark W. Griswold told his family their trip to Wally World had become. And yesterday, I was in the same boat. Well, at least for a few seconds I was in a boat.
I had just finished photographing Commission fisheries biologists Jeff Schuckman and Phil Chvala retrieving trap nets from Overton Lake southeast of Atkinson. With a little daylight to spare, I told Jeff I was planning to fish somewhere the rest of the afternoon.
“Good luck in this wind,” he said, 40 MPH gusts slamming my truck door shut as he spoke.
“I’ll stop at Goose Lake,” I returned, confident in my ability to put my lure in some sort of water within the next hour.
“That place is deep, even with waders,” he said. Yet, I have to admit, I ignored him.
When I arrived at Goose, the lake was whitecapping from one end to the next. So I went to a cove I had fished before, where I had remembered being able to wade to the edge of the cattails. At about this moment, my quest for fun truly began.
“Just let your waders fill up with water if it creeps over the edge,” I thought. Until it did creep over the edge, temporarily knocking the breath out of me as I immediately realized it was still early April.
My second idea was to put my john boat in, troll to the outer edge of the cattails, and get buried in one spot where I could fish for a little while. After repeated failed attempts drove me into the cattails instead of on the outer edge of the cattails, I regrouped and hopped back out. Then, a brilliant idea surfaced.
“What if I turn my trolling motor on while I’m outside of the boat, and guide the vessel into the open water only to jump in, Navy Seal style, when I am free from the cattails.” I considered it. I looked at the waves, and then I considered it again. However I couldn’t make myself do it. One, I know my own lack of athleticism. Two, I had never heard of any angler choosing this option. So since I’m not innovative, I just figured I was being stupid. Third, I get motion sickness really bad. Twist me around three times on a dance floor and I start getting queasy, and the rough waves were starting to settle in on my belly. How sad.
By this point, I was reminded of Griswold’s rant after his kids, and his wife, said “to hell with Wally World, we want to go home.” He denied their request, eventually proclaiming how much fun they were going to have once they got there. So much fun, in fact, that they would be “whistling Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” out of certain parts of their anatomy.
I understood his feeling. There was no way I was going to be able to fish Goose Lake, not even from the bank, for those big pike and bass swimming beneath the water. Yet I tried one last time, making a handful of casts from the main boat ramp, having my lure, and my body, thrown several feet in the wrong direction every time I cast. So I quit, hopping back in my truck and heading in the direction of home, hoping that at some point the wind would stop.
It is on these days, I must confess, it is good to have friends. Friends who also share in your same determination, and quite often, devastation. I called Rob in search of his sympathy. And like all friends do, he made me feel better.
“I wouldn’t have fished either,” he said. “Sounds really bad up there.”
We chatted for a few more minutes, and I was convinced that he truly felt for my inability to fish…until I got his email this morning with a subject box entitled “After Talking to You.”
“Yeah, after talking to you yesterday I got to wanting to fish a little bit. Here’s one I caught,” it read. “Man, if there was one this size, there were 30. I felt bad for you though, man. Maybe next time.”
Yeah, I’m sure he felt really bad about it.