The Wide Angle: Fishing is just ‘knot’ my thing

There is something to be said about fishing: Lots of things really and if you fish like I do, then a lot of those words are of the four-letter variety.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not an angler in the full sense of the word. At best it just means I angle to complete a fishing expedition without use of the above-referenced words. Ironically it most often deals with those moments where the line gets tangled.

Maybe I’m not mechanically inclined enough, or maybe I’m just not very good at fishing. You would think it’s a fairly simple core concept though. Take the rod, throw the rod back, whip the rod forward, put the line in lake, wait until the fish are done laughing at you and go back to shore.

That’s my general process anyway. I know there are others who take fishing more seriously and know the ins and outs of not getting mocked by lower lifeforms.

The idea of fishing jumped to the mind sometime Monday, when I started thinking about our family’s annual vacation. I’m not sure why fishing came first really. Usually my time is spent between the resort near Park Rapids, Minnesota, venturing over to Itasca State Park and journeys throughout the area with my girlfriend.

But no. On this day, fishing came to mind.

Let me set the stage. My dad has a modest fishing boat. Nothing spectacular that requires racing across the lake all manly-like. All in all, it’s nice, so a day on the lake is always welcome.

The lake itself is of the longer variety and has quite possibly the meanest sounding name I’ve ever heard: Bad Axe. In my mind this area was settled by the Norse and the lake named for it’s jarl, Jarl Bad Axe Iceblood.

If you have proof that’s not the case, shut up. I don’t want to hear about it. My story is far better.

At any rate, Bad Axe is fairly secluded with a few houses ringing the lake and a Boy Scout camp in the northeast corner. A smaller lake, Buck Lake, reached by a very narrow pass, sits squatly off the north shore with an eagle’s nest perched over the top like some sort of sentry position.

It’s all very American.

We, in our expert angling ways, park it in the north, northwest waters with occasional forays into the part of the lake near the Boy Scouts. What I mean by ‘“our expert angling ways” is that’s where we have gone every year up until this point, so why stop now.

Sometimes we catch fish, other times we don’t and still other times I get into near fist fights with the fishing rod.

The rod I always use is one of those open-line ones. Whether it’s the same rod every time I don’t know. What I do know is that most every time, the line becomes snagged, tangled or worse. Read “worse” as full wrestling matches as more and more line gets spilled out onto the boat and my language gets progressively worse.

No matter how hard, I try I never get through a vacation week without at least two or three episodes of “Find the Knot in the Growing Ball of Fishing Line.”

Seriously, it’s ridiculous.

What’s worse is that it always starts simply enough. A loop, aggravating but still mundane, peaks out from the reel. I cast a couple times, warning eyes on the loop as if to say, “Go on, come out further. I dare you.”

And of course it takes up the dare. It knows — YES — it knows that I’m not ready for this challenge but I bravely press forward anyway. The loop gradually grows, teasing me with its intentions until I take up the cause and gradually pull out the line to reach said loop, which I swear came from an alternate dimension. It really should not be that far in considering my casting range.

I think I’m maintaining an organized de-reeling, but little do I know that the line is about to perform a gymnastics routine of sheer tangling genius.

In the blink of an eye — BAM. The tangle has me on Def Con 1, swearing and pointing and sometimes threatening the line until I give up and take out the scissors, cutting tangle from line in one final, impressively conjured swear word.

It’s over and I’ve wasted anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes of pristine lake time where the sun glitters off the water and the wind moves lazily through the pines.

I’m not learning something throughout all of this. Years and years have taught me that there is something I’m missing, but heck if I can figure it out.

In the end, I admit defeat and stare at the water, wondering how it’s come to be that I’m telling fish to shut up.

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