Monday, November 28, 2005

Hobbies-Part the Third

The gods do not deduct from man's alloted span the hours spent in fishing. -- Babylonian proverb

One of the reasons I chucked golf, other than to retain my tenuous hold on sanity, was that I preferred to spend my time fishing. Not being independently wealthy, the leisure time available for fishing was inversely proportional to the time spent hacking through the woods in search of a dimpled spheroid. Now the big difference between the two activities is that, if you make a hundred casts and catch a couple of nice fish, it's a good day. In golf, a couple of good shots out of more than a hundred is not a pleasant experience.

Choosing fishing, then, was a no-brainer.

I don't fish anymore, but it's not because the angling wasn't fun. It was some of the associated aspects. For example, serious fishing requires a boat. Now it is said that the two happiest days of a boat owner's life are the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it. I had three boats, so I had six of those days. In between, I had engine problems, battery problems, trolling motor problems, scheduled maintenance (at Mercedes-Benz prices), and bees' nests. Yes, bees. It seems that the drain plug and bilge pump exit are places that bees think make ideal little egg hatcheries.

At least I never had snakes. Removal of snakes from a boat, which has numerous serpentine hiding places, requires the application of mothballs in an enclosed space. Don't ask.

In and around all those adventures, I actually managed to get some fishing in. At least, I could fish before all the pleasure boaters and water skiers hit the water. I have been on lakes with so many boat wakes criss-crossing that it looked like a gale was blowing up whitecaps. I have never understood the joys of getting in a boat and riding up and down the lake for hours at a time. I mean, after you've seen the scenery a couple of times, then what? At least water skiers are doing something.

Unfortunately, there is some pernicious quirk in the fabric of the universe that causes fishermen and water skiers to want to use exactly the same little channel on a 4000 acre lake. This leads to unnecessary acrimony, as well as the occasional well-thrown beverage container.

A friend of mine from Virginia got a small measure of revenge. On a hot day, he decided to put on his swim trunks. No one was in sight for miles, he dropped his drawers, while I discretely fished in the other direction. No sooner was he in his birthday suit then what should come around the bend but a boat full of folks towing a skier. He mooned the whole bunch. The skier did a lovely header.

To this day, old Moon (as I came to call him) swears it was unintentional. Personally, I thought it was taking him quite a while to untangle that swim suit.

The last reason that I retired from fishing was tournaments. I'm not talking about Bassmasters or the Wal-Mart tour here. It seems that social organizations, charity organizations, companies, and for-real bass clubs all were putting on tournaments. When I opened up the sports section one February and saw two to four tournaments every weekend from March until September, I gave it up. Every body of water I like to fish seemed to have a contest every other weekend. When there was no tournament, then contestants were “practicing.” Tournament fishermen can be reasonably obnoxious, even when they're polite.

I was fishing a sand bar on a weekday that I was off from work. Normally, during the week, the river I was fishing was deserted. That was the case this day, until an 18-foot fiberglass monster with a 200 HP motor roared up. The driver and his friends (there were three in the boat) were fishing a tournament on the coming weekend, and did I mind if they fished the sand bar for a while? Well, yes I did mind, but, being outnumbered, I declined to be obstinate. I mumbled assent and moved down the bar so they could fish some tree stumps in the shallows.

Now, I had fished the point on a number of occasions. So, if I was a nice guy, I would have pointed out the only small fish could be found in the stumps. I could have told them I was fishing in deep water at the end of the bar and catching good-sized fish. If I was a nice guy, I could have been very helpful.

I was helpful, in a way. I moved down and caught about six fish before their eyes. Then I cranked my engine and putted away with a wave and a smirk.

Hey, what do you expect? I used to be a golfer.

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