Saturday, October 29, 2005

A Needmore Fish Story

©1999 Harrison Information Systems
September 13, 2000

NEEDMORE---It’s another fish story.

After I left the chiropractor yesterday afternoon, feeling spry and two inches taller, and noting, of course, the fish dancing on my watch face and feeling the full moon pulling from above, I sallied forth unto the Little Tennessee river to indulge in an afternoon of paper grading and worm drowning.

Arriving at my favorite hole near the unthriving village of Needmore, NC, I discovered the river down to a mere rivulet, a trickle of gin clear water in comparison to the raging torrent when last I tread upon its hallowed shores.

"Fishing is gonna suck," I said to a scattering of dog-pecker gnats flitting about the newly exposed foul-smelling mud. Presently, I settled into my chair, and with two lines tossed far, far into the still current I began an investigation into spelling errors and comma splices.

The sun beamed down and nary a creature was stirring within the shallow waters. "Water’s too low. Fish are spooky," I said to my red pen. So I graded. Little beads of sweats steal down my brow; the afternoon becomes deathly still.

And after a time, I hear, "Glub, slurp, glub slurp." Bifocaled eyes snapped right and sure enough, there in the shallows, a great wake was wallowing back and forth next to the bank.

Being keenly aware of the wariness of larger fish in such circumstances, I initiated the military creep forward on hands and knees across the rocky shoal, much to the consternation of several passing motorists, who responded with much neck twisting and two near collisions.

As close as I dared, I spied upon the fish. I could discern only two things about its condition, due to murkiness of the water and the pain shooting through my knees: it was big and it was feeding on what looked like dried-up blackberries. I retreated and managed to snag a couple of the soggy looking berries for inspection.

"No way am I gonna get a hook in that stuff," I huffed as I scrambled across the shoal back to my truck and my tackle.

The next thirty minutes consisted me of me trying one floating plug after another on Big Fish, and after I had exhausted my collection of floating artificials, and, of course, having neither fly rod, fly, nor popper with me, I looked for other alternatives.

Then I spied it—the perfect alternative to the berries—same size, nearly the same color, and I knew it would float! Yes, Gentle Reader, you are right—a dog-bone shaped nugget of something like Kennel Ration canine gourmetecy! Ah, but the next step. How do you get a hook in a piece of hard-as-Hell dog food? As I have often said to students, I said unto the dog food, "Sounds like a critical thinking problem to me."

Ok. Duct (quack, quack) tape? Line wrap? Hmmm, may work but it wouldn’t float as well. Wait. Ah-ha! Glue! (One of buds once said I carried a lot of stuff with me when I went fishing [well, obviously not enough this time] and I told him I was simply ready for nuclear war.) But then a yellow tube of an idea struck me. I dug my glue out of my tackle bag and with a flourish glued a #10 True Turn hook onto the teeny dog bone.

Then, like the dawn on the ridges under azure sky, a question seared my excited mind. How are you gonna cast this thing? After considering the situation, there was only one answer: an ultralight crappie rig. With all the backbone of deviagraed eunuch, I knew if I managed to hook the fish—well, it wouldn’t be pretty.

After rigging hook and dog food to the four pound line, I crept forward. The fish was still slurping the berries (or whatever they were). I flicked the dog food forward. It landed with a slight ripple and then KERBLOOM! It was on!

I won’t bore you with the gory details of the fight except to say that it went on for 15 minutes with me running all over the place with the fish screeching my drag and me hanging on for dear life until, as I had worked it close enough to almost see, the line went slack.

I reeled in, and there, with a dull glint, I could see my little hook had finally given out; it was nearly straight.

I sighed and went over and sat down in my chair, a big, stupid grin on my face. I wish I had at least seen the fish, but I felt rather swell-headed that I had even managed to hook it.
I set my rod into the holder and leaned back. The rod slipped out and fell into the water. I leaned forward to pull the rod back out of the water and…

There is always a time like this in every fish story when the plot twists again, and seeing as how this one is true, truth is stranger than fiction, and if anyone had made this up editors all over the world would scream in outrage that no one would believe anything like this.

Nope. No fish.


Wrapped around my rod tip was about a foot long snake. I realized that the yellow belly and greenish black back would belie anything of the poisonous variety, but still, it was a snake.
I stood and lifted my rod. The little rod sagged under the weight of the scaly serpent. The snake clamped around my rod tip like a boa constrictor on crack. Body snaking (pun!pun!) around the rod, the snake snaked down the rod. I shook the rod; the snake squeezed tighter.

Ok. Another critical thinking problem. My pistol! Oh, yeah, I am surely a good enough shot to pop Mr. Snake’s evil little head off without blowing up my $20 rod. As the snake inched closer, I was reminded of another old tale about draining swamps and alligators, and concluded that sometimes some situations do not call for in-depth investigations or careful, thoughtful analysises, or ad hoc committee meetings.

With hardly a thought about attendant consequences, I said, "Ok, Mr. Snake, let’s see you ride Space Mountain." I whipped the rod back, sidearm, of course, and then snapped it forward. The snake sailed through the air, looking for all the world like a boomerang, out and over the river, arcing high then dipping toward the water.

The prolog to a movie called The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean says something to the effect of "If this wasn’t the way the West was, then this is the way the West should have been."
In the perfectly told fish story, there is always a snappy ending that wraps up the tale.
So what is the perfect ending for this true story?

---your humble servant


Post a Comment

<< Home