Sunday, October 13, 2013
Thank god for the sun peeping thorugh this week. Like everything on my back porch, I felt swampy and moldy. I cautiously opened the patio storage door, standing back to avoid the escape of whatever the heck I had accidentally locked up in it since last November. I imagined Palmetto bugs mastisizing on the half empty bag of fertiler I left crumpled in the corner. When nothing lurched at me, I gingerly poked my way around before entering. Spider legs tell me that something larger than that, but smaller than I, claimed squatter’s rights over the winter. I start looking up, not a natural reaction for most, unless you, like I, have fought a bat off in a closed room.
Jerking the lawn chair out, I swat at the webs with the broom. Next, my tackle box. I take it out and pet its handle. I clicked open the clasp, too late now. Neatly binned neon glowing worms, translucent crickets, minnows and spinners, line, lead sinkers, corks, bottle caps and faded fishing licenses, all reminders of creek/river and oceans of days past. I close the lid quickly when I feel the urge climb in me. “Soon.” I promise the clam shelled box.
Not many people are brave enough to endure fishing trips with me, Don included. He is fine as long as we have a lot of space. I have snagged on darn near everything you can imagine - trees, sunken logs, turtles, eels, myself and midgets. Yes, you heard right. I don’t make this stuff up, it just happens.
My first trip was with a friend and her grandmother when I was 9. I was on what I think was the Gippy Plantation in Moncks Corner. It was a reedy inlet off of the Cooper River across from Mepkin Abbey. Anyway, I no sooner got a worm in the water than my pole doubled. When I pulled it up. My prize? A fish head, minus the body. The remainder of the fish that stared blankly up at me was caught by a larger fish.
No fisherman wants me in their boat, unless it’s big. I don’t have to tell fish stories. They are always big. They are as much about what happens out of the water as they are what happened on the water.
Here are a couple of excursions. The catfish story. One Saturday morning years ago, Don and I packed the car: kids, cooler, rods and reels and tackleboxes. We headed for the soupy yellow waters of the Yadkin River. The Yadkin is known for it’s big catfish and I had just the thing for them, a shiny brand new rod and reel. I cast in, sat for a bit and then remembered I left something in the car. While climbing the steep banks of the river a fish hit my line. The fish had taken off into the deep, dragging my new rod and reel with it. I was speechless, Don wasn’t. “You know you have to brace that rod with something.” Now I am grumpy. I sat on the bank and watched the kids gathering tadpoles. One felt sorry for me and let me use their Spiderman Zebco 202 for a bit. A little later Don went to the store and left me his rod to fish with. He didn’t pull out good before I got a big bite. After I set the hook the rod bowed. I pulled and pulled and couldn’t believe what came up. Don’s fish, which snagged on my new rod and reel and still had my fish on the end of it’s line. Woo Hoo.
Exhausted when we pulled into our drive, sweaty children covered in red clay and tired parents clamored from the car, leaving fishing rods hanging out the cracked windows of the car. After showers and naps we decided to go get something to eat. I froze in my tracks when I walked out onto the steps to leave, unable to process what I was seeing. Blood curdling tween screams brought me back, there was a cat spinning in the air two feet off the ground with a hook in his mouth. I guess he got a whiff of the remnants of bait left on the hook and jumped up for a bite.
We took the stray cat, rod and all to the emergency vet. They removed the hook, gave us the rod and reel back and charged us $200. Now we have a new cat. Ugly as sin itself, we named him Gremlin. Hence, I caught my third cat of the day. The Midget Story. Gliding along a calm North Carolina lake for the christening of our pontoon boat, I was in heaven. My favorite thing on the boat at the moment was the fish finder. Don explained it to me, “It beeps if fish are beneath us and shows their location, quantity and size.”
After a little cruising, Don pulled the pontoon up to the dock. He jumped onto the dock and headed across the parking lot to his truck to get something. I am now the “Skipper” of the boat. Well, the fish finder went off, beeping like crazy. I sauntered over to look. OMG, it was displaying a huge frigging fish at the back of the boat. I scurry to the back of the boat, the line we had been trolling from the back of the boat is bowing. Heart racing, I pick up the rod. I can’t even budge whatever is on the other end. Then, all hell broke loose under the edge of the boat. Banging, thrashing foamy water, and just as quick as it started, it stopped. Like that quiet moment in a scary movie, where you think calm is restored I took a big breath. Then, the climatic moment, like a righted buoy a bald little head shot out of the water gasping for air. A midget surfaced in a small kayak! Jesus help me, I have caught a midget! Wild eyes looked up at me. I didn’t see a line hooked to him, it was then I realized that he wasn’t on my line, Thank God, just the kayak. The midget caught his breath as he helped me unwind and untangle the line around the front of his kayak. He told me that he was a novice kayaker and wanted to practice rolling his kayak in shallow water, he didn’t realize he had slipped under the pontoon. He floated off as Don returned to the boat. And weirdly quick, the world was normal again.
Author’s note: I used the term midget only for simplicity in grammar as opposed to “little people” and suggest no disrespet. If you insert “Little people” where I have the word midget you could see where it doesn’t structure well. Visit Renae Brabham at www.renaebrabham.com.