Now, dear reader, I am aware most fisherman are notorious liars, or at least great exaggerators. However, the story you are about to encounter is true; I have pictures to prove it. No – do not look at the picture just yet! Wait until my story is over.
It was an especially warm Memorial Day weekend, and my wife and I were enjoying panfishing with our grandkids: Nikki, 9, and Dino, 8. Being the great guide that I am, (sorry, I told you about exaggeration) we were soon catching baskets full of panfish.
As soon as I took a rock bass off of Nikki’s line, Dino’s bobber went down. I found myself covered with worm dirt and fish slime. “Enough!” I yelled. “It’s my turn.”
Now the real story begins!
Good fairy tales begin with, “Once upon a time.” So how do I start? Because this is a true fish story; I have pictures to prove it. I know what you are thinking, “A true fish story is an oxymoron.” But, stay with me. Remember, I have pictures to prove it.
I took my magic rod (an old fly rod that was converted into a bass rod that forced me to reel backwards, but that is another story), baited it with a squirming leech and let fly a beautiful, arcing cast that landed inches from my target (sorry, an exaggeration).
This scenario continued for a few minutes as my wife read and the kids tried to see how many leeches they could dangle from their little fingers (this is true but I don’t have pictures to prove it).
“Oh, no,” I groaned. “I’m stuck! Aralee (the wife), get the oars and move the boat around so I can save my bait.”
Boy, am I glad I don’t have pictures to show her expression!
“Wait! My line is moving! I think I have a big one!”
Now I must digress to introduce you to the camera man. Jeff is my 18-year-old cousin who was about to graduate from high school. As part of an assignment for a photography class, he had to tell a story with pictures. He had been taking pictures, but nothing seemed to click. He was in the woods a short distance from shore when he heard my blood-curdling yell.
“Jeff, get me a net and a gaff hook; I have a muskie on!”
He came running to the shore and said, “Wait, I have to change film!”
“Change film? Not now! I don't think I can hold this monster much longer!”
With that he disappeared and emerged, what seemed like an eternity later, with a net and his camera. During this light year, Nikki and Dino had leeches all over the bottom of the boat and were wondering what all of the yelling was about.
Of course, Aralee was her usual self saying, “If I knew I was going to row you all around the lake I would have dressed for the occasion.”
Oh, yes, the muskie. I had not seen it yet and all I could do was strip line as it moved to deep water. When it would stop, I was able to bring it slowly back toward me with my 40-year-old fly rod with the backward reel.
As Jeff reached the shore line, a thought panicked my calm demeanor.
“What about the kids and Aralee? We can’t do battle with them on board!”
“Jeff, you think you can walk out here and carry the kids to shore? Aralee will row us to shallow water.”
At that point a booming voice behind me said, “You are not carrying me to shore; I told you I am not dressed for this!”
I tried to smile with the weight of the world on my back and my manhood on trial and said, “No, only the kids; I need you to row the boat.”
Only a quiet growl emanated from the keeper of the oars.
So, Jeff puts down his equipment, wades out to four feet of water, carries Dino to shore, carries Nikki to shore, goes to his equipment, checks something about the lighting and finally gets into the boat. Oh, my poor backward-reeling hand.
Jeff clamors to the bow of the boat slipping on discarded leaches and worms and proceeds to snap pictures.
“Holy cow, you have two muskies!”
I know my hearing has been questioned, so I chuckled and said, “This is no time for a joke!”
“No! There are two muskies in the water!”
I looked around my backward-reeling magic rod and sure enough, there they were, two 20-25 pound muskies.
“What do you want me to do?” Jeff whispered with his hands on the camera, the net at his feet and his teeth tightly clenched.
Well, do you believe my story? Go ahead – look at my picture.
My once-in-a-lifetime story is over, and I hear you asking, “Wait – what happened to the muskies? Did you land them? Did they get away? Did Aralee ever get to change clothes?”
What we believe happened is as follows:
The female muskie grabbed a rock bass that had taken my leech. The male muskie continued to swim alongside of the female in the process of spawning. When Jeff put the net into the water, the female opened her mouth and the rock bass plopped into the water.
Both fish stayed on the surface for a few seconds, turned slowly and disappeared to repeat nature’s continuation of the species. My feeling at this point was one of elation. I had 20 minutes of pure joy and the kings of the lake were allowed to continue life as nature had intended.
My greatest trophy hangs on my fire place with the caption “Two Fish On the Wall: And I have pictures to prove it.”