Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A woman without a man ...

is like a fish without a bicycle.

I’m truly blessed to be related to a number of very talented and energetic women, all of whom have an independent streak. All of them also have a good sense of humor, all of them have roots to my home state of Minnesota, and all of them are outstanding in their field. As a matter of fact, the picture below is an image of one of them .. out .. standing .. in .. a .. field:

If you’ve read either “Why Men Don’t Listen, and Women Can’t read Maps”OR “Men are Like Waffles, and Women are Like Spaghetti”, you’ll recognize that it’s pretty amazing that men and women can get along at all.

After more than 60 years, I’ve discovered that the trick to getting along seems to be (1) finding some common interests and (2) letting each other “do their own thing”.

I’ll freely admit that I’m not fond of garage sales, flowery greeting cards, or shopping in general.

I’ll also admit that I like the occasional shot of scotch and a cigar, and I’m not at all adverse to “tinkering” with cars.

Guys are also supposed to like F-I-S-H-I-N-G, but that just hasn’t been an area of interest for most of my life. If my memory is correct, my dad took me fishing exactly ONCE. Although I’ve fished a few times with either friends or family members over the years, fishing just hasn’t been much of a priority for me.

On Father’s Day, I WON a Zebco fishing rod at church.

Apart from the obvious question of “what the hell to I do with this?” was another imperative: ”I HAVE to write a fish story.”

But …

I don’t have any, so I wrote a few friends and family members (who live and breathe fishing) for help.

First to respond was my brother-in-law Chet. For the sake of simplicity, as well as authenticity, I decided to reprint his stories verbatim:

“There are so many where to I start.

I was fishing in Rainy Lake in some pretty strong wind with a resort friend. I decided to use Vickie’s fishing rod from some unknown reason at this time and that was a mistake. I toss out the lure to start fishing and threw the rod out with it. Needless to say we must have spent an hour or so trying to snag it with heavy lures and nothing was working. When we got back to the resort my friend blurted out to Vickie what happen before I even had a chance to make it to the cabin. Well, the next day we went shopping for a replacement and everything was fine. We still talk about that one from time to time and now laugh about it.

There was another time that we were trolling in one of the busier bays with a lot of boat traffic that Saturday afternoon. There was another boater (a young girl) going back to one of the many islands with her grandparents and some cousins that she just picked up at the marina. The boat was plenty full and I’m sure there was plenty of noise in the boat. We were going one way and this girl decided to go between us and the shore. When she did that she turned out behind us and snagged Vickie and my lines and lures with their boat. The boat was moving at a high rate of speed and peeled out the line off of our reels. Vickie’s line broke, but she lost her lure, leader, and all her line. I, on the other hand, wasn’t so fortunate. I tried to stop my line from going out completely by placing my thumb on the spool while the line was leaving. This was not a smart thing to do. I instantly burnt my thumb and my reaction was let go of the rod. So I lost my rod, reel, line, leader, and lure. The rod and reel were a Father’s Day gift and was my first time using them. We promptly turned around our boat and followed them back to the island which we were gladly meet by her father. After explaining what happen amd showed them some pictures of the equipment we were given a check for the amount. On Monday morning we waited for the doors of the credit union to open and we cashed the check. We then spent the next couple of hours shopping to replace it.”

My other brother-in-law isn’t as wordy as I am, but if he had to share his most memorable fishing experience, it would likely involve the time that he tore out the bottom of his boat …

on the very first day of his fishing vacation on Rainy Lake.

The next guy to respond was a former co-worker, whom I’ve nicknamed “Igor“. His response was fairly lengthy, so I won’t reprint it here. However, trust me when I tell you that if you’re planning to go fishing in Alaska, you’d better pack a .44 Magnum as a back up plan, simply due to the fact that bears like to go fishing, too.

On occasion, a fishing trip can be much more successful than even the craziest optimist could possibly imagine. The very best example of that is George Carmack, who did VERY WELL on HIS fishing trip to Alaska.

Fish stories inevitably involve bragging about who caught the biggest fish, but if you accidentally snag THIS GUY, you definitely are NOT going to be able to reel him in.

It’s been said that my native state of Minnesota has 10,000 lakes, but that’s not exactly true. If you define a lake as a body of water of at least 10 acres, there are precisely 11,842 places to fish in Minnesota, and at least a few of them look exactly like the lake pictured below:

Golden Pond

Not surprisingly, Minnesota also has the highest per capita ownership of boats in the country, and it’s neighbor to the east ranks second.

Since I’ve had some input from friends and relatives in writing part of this story, I’ll include a way for everyone who reads this story to participate as well. Buried in a link somewhere on this page are the answers to the following questions:

1) what was the name of the fish that Henry Fonda was trying to catch in the movie, “Golden Pond”?

2) after Norman (Fonda’s character) and his grandson Billy catch the fish, what do they do with him?

If you think you know the answers, just leave them in the comments section on this page. Incidentally, the link also provides some other interesting details about the movie.

If you know someone who lives in Minnesota and doesn’t fish, the 2011 Minnesota trout stamp pictured below may cause them to suddenly take up a new hobby:

Keep on fishin’ !!


  1. My most recent fish story came from yesterday's tour of flash flood damage in Northeast Minnesota. My neighbor fishes Lake Superior and the hidden wilderness waters along the Superior Ridge. We made two round trips to Finland. The first at 11 AM, we saw no sign of damage as reported by media, but the Baptism River was raging. Plenty of roadside ditches washed out. We went back to Finland for lunch at Our Place, most recently famous for Kent Hrbek (outdoorsman and former Twins first baseman) who brought three bus loads of snowmobilers there when they found no snow on their planned trek to Ely. After lunch, the morning deluge finally made its way out of the hills. All of the roadside ditches were overflowing. My neighbor pointed to what had been a bog an hour earlier, and said, "That's good fishing". Who knew those bogs were breeding grounds for brook trout? Protect the wetlands, yes, but not the poorly designed campgrounds, where found soggy campers trying to escape the flooding Baptism River.

  2. I have only been trout fishing once, in Bear Lake in the mountains of Colorado. I was severely tempted to let the poor trout loose, which were alive tethered to a pole sticking in the water. My uncle was a great fisherman, but I did not take advantage of his lessons after snagging his line a few dozen times.

    The most memorable remark of the day was one of my cousins asking "Did you guys see all those BARES in the woods?" (No that is not a mis-spelling).