The Wide Angle: Dealing with a fish-mocking

Published 7:01 am Sunday, July 17, 2016

Two weeks ago I was on vacation.

I don’t say that to really rub it in, so much as I say this for a certain level of context.

Okay, I’m rubbing it in.

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Vacation wasn’t jet-setting across the globe, or taking a hike to the top of Mount Rainer or even a trip to the Caribbean. And you would know the latter because if I went I would be dressed as a pirate the entire time and there would be pictures galore.


And if you don’t think that’s possible then you don’t know me very well.

The week, spent at Isle ‘O Dreams Lodge just north of Park Rapids, is an annual family tradition for a number of years, dating back to when I could remember things. Just keep the college joke where it is.

It’s also spent with the same families we’ve seen for a majority of those years. We’re an interesting bunch falling just this side of “interesting.” We’re not something to shy away from, but we have our moments where you might ask yourself, “Was that just said?”

The area is fun, literally filled with things to do including at least a couple days spent at Itasca State Park and more than a couple to Rapid River Logging Camp, a favorite of my mom’s especially and to be fair, they have some pretty killer pancakes.

But ultimately, a lot of our time is spent on the lake. Our cabin is situated serenely on the eastern point of the peninsula with a deck that looks out over the water and our own dock. The entire lake is surrounded by thick pine trees adding to the experience of being secluded with your thoughts and activities.

One of those activities is fishing.

Now, nobody is going to confuse me with Babe Winkleman, which is a shame, because being called Babe Winkleman just sounds fantastic.

I’m not overly sure what one lure does in relation to another lure or what it’s designed to catch. And really it doesn’t matter. Normally I just throw on a Mister Twister — a various colored, worm-looking thing that fish are supposed to like.

It works for the most part. We’re usually bringing fish home or eating it at the lake which is sublime.

Still, I can’t own up to the level of angler. Angler just sounds far too professional and I’m far from professional.

I know I’ve written before how I’ve gotten into fights with fishing rods, specifically tangled line, so I won’t go over that again, other than to say I got away with a week with no major altercations. This is worth noting because it corresponds directly with no new and creative words being added to my vocabulary.

This year, fishing seemed abnormally easy. The old adage of they were jumping into the boat, was pretty close. But those were crappies. There isn’t a lot of challenge with these fish. Cast the lure, reel the lure, take the fish off, repeat steps one through three.

But with a certain amount of success comes a taste for adventure. In this regard, adventure means switching lures and “trying” to fish for bass.

Bass are fun to catch. They struggle and fight, jump and drive. But they also display a smart-alecky attitude that leans toward mocking.

I can’t stand to be mocked. I admit I have very little proof that bass, as a species of fish, have that ability, but given my experiences, I don’t know how they can’t be.

Where before I was having a hard time keeping the crappie off the line, the bass showed an indifference that was borderline arrogant.

They would often swim lazily past the lure and even the boat, daring to come so close as to identify what they were looking at, before turning quickly away, flipping their tail fin in a way that could and probably should be seen as an indignant flip the hair.

“I’m sorry,” it says in a French accent. “But I do not lower myself to dine on bait such as this.”

We caught a few, my dad especially, but I had to settle for one every large, 16-inch bass and a few satellite bass that were probably too young to know any better.

Now I know what you are saying: “16 inches. That’s pretty good.”

And I would agree if I didn’t think that it took the line either out of indifference or on a dare: “Take that lure? Here, hold my beer.”

Either way it was too big to keep and fillet so we put it back, like we did all of our bass. I think that makes us sportsmen. I’ll get back to you on that.

All in all, though it was another special week that made coming home somewhat bitter. Nothing against Austin, but it’s hard to compete with blue waters, pine trees, friends and family and perhaps best of all — no cell service.

At least the fish aren’t as cocky.