This past Friday I was invited to go on a small fishing trip with my brother-in-law and a friend. On Friday evening I gathered my camping and fishing supplies and threw some clothes into a backpack (and watched the Blackhawks overtime victory in a Western Conference Finals game) before finally getting to bed at midnight. By 2.00am I was up and at 'em to shower and head down to my brother-in-law's for a 4.00am departure to Lake Carlton. After driving along fog-cloaked Highway 88, a quick stop for a gas station coffee and breakfast (in my case, a pack of chocolate Donettes) and a quick set-up of our campsite, the sun was just burning through the mist as our boat hit the water of Lake Carlton at 7.00am.
While my two companions cast their lures into the water in search of the mysterious musky, I prepped my line with a simple spinner bait meant to attract small-mouth bass and pan-fish. There comes a silence when the boat is on the water, everyone is ready and has a line out. Each person is alone with their thoughts,all available concentration is consumed by the simple process of casting, reeling, and casting again. It is this silence that is my reward for frantically packing, sleeping just 2 hours, and traveling to this location. The irreplaceable feeling of peace tinged with faint expectation combined with the natural wonder of what is going underneath the waters around me has quickly become addictive.
By the end of the day, we had caught exactly zero fish. We noticed no one around us seemed to have any better luck. (Something nipped a night crawler off my hook when we were fishing for catfish that evening, but I am half convinced it was a state park employee in scuba gear trying to trick us into thinking there was actually fish in that lake.) But despite the outcome, I would do it all again tomorrow. To help feed my growing hunger for all things fishing, I am putting the following titles on my To Read list:
Moby Dick - I know it's not a fish, but I had to read it in high school and I read the Cliffs Notes instead. I plan to amend that deficiency when I have a few week to put together to undertake this whale of a book.
The Old Man and the Sea - I will attempt to tackle Hemingway again, and maybe this novel will help me solve him.
The River Why - While not it doesn't play a central role, David James Duncan uses fishing to illustrate depth and growth within his main character.
Would anyone have other recommendations?
I would be remiss in not mentioning a movie the viewing of which has become a holiday tradition in my wife's family over the years: Grumpy Old Men. Depicting Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau in the twilight of their illustrious careers, it's a great story about two friends who've hated each other for years, but finally figure out the value of friendship. A line said during that movie in a round of fisticuffs while ice-fishing by Jack Lemmon's on-screen octogenarian father will always be a favorite of mine: "Drop .... that .... fish!"