1/28/10

Two Wooden Oars Part I

we were floating, anchored, and not thirsty. the day was in full glory. baited, the fish seemed sleepy and apathetic to our advances. an hour earlier we had dropped in, without incident, on the eastern side of white river lake. plenty of room as the resurgent lake of 19% capacity loomed ahead. the truck and trailer parked, we sped off in full engine-thrusting splendor. ready to slay the hated, but loved, catfish. blue cat. channel cat. any cat. catfish duncan had made some chum and we sped over to our initial locale and he milk-jugged it into the water. less messy as he went along. the promise was catfish. the irresistable, almost mystical, allure of this rotted chum would bring the fish to us. big wally's finest. almost seemed unfair when duncan explained how it worked.  "basically, i was told give it thirty minutes.", he claimed. "we got all day boys. we're gonna eat good tonight. hawkeye, you got a hushpuppie receipe?"

"shut up catfish. you don't know what the hell you're doing.", hawkeye shot back. with a smirk he went back to fixing his seemingly always broken rig. hawkeye dover was a planner. the day had a plan. the night had a plan. his life had a plan. it had gone pretty much to plan. he had reached the american destination. yet something was missing in his soul and he knew it. time to move on. missing his wife emensely, hawkeye couldn't wait another hour for the catfish in that spot to awake. deville, the captain and owner of the craft, seemed uncaring and jumped at the chance to drive the boat. it started without incident.

before setting off to another spot, we agreed to refresh our can warmers and find a spot to settle. this was a two man boat. four grown men had to communicate and awareness was key if an overboard situation was to be avoided. life jackets? they were under somthing, but accesible. i reeled my hook of horror from the water, found a spot, enjoyed a cold draw of mexico, and enjoyed the views of the western ridge of white river lake.

catfish modified his slinging technique and baited the entire west side as deville slowly crept north. the fish were being set up for the slaughter. they would curse the day they went for the internet chum. fried catfish roamed in and out of the minds of all the boat dwellers.

"let's take a look around and drop the rest on the other side.", yelled catfish on the way over to the rather beautiful eastern shore.

deville recounted, "we used to campout along here when it was a real island." no doubt he had searched for treasure as a youth. deville the pirate. an ageless man of experiences and stories. he cares. he prepares.

we found a tree that used to be old. now, older, deader, it was the perfect place to set up the catfish trap. anchors away. and away, and away. hawkeye finally hooked us on the bottom, but his average angler skills were evident. deville laughed, encouraged, instructed, spit, and was satisfied when dover finally hit a rock on the bottom of the shallow, shaded point. deville was a teacher and saw things to their final conclusion. really, it's what makes him confident. he knows he will end the day. with accomplishments behind. quickly he caught our first fish. a blue cat. cold as ice to the touch. a perfect creature of the deep, muddy texas lake. the excitment generated raised spirits and gave hope to all with a hook. he was cold and full. tonight, a day later, we'll eat him along with others caught and cleaned over the past year.

the bait seemed to be working. we all felt it. i watched my fishing pole closely as i shifted to find relief for my aching back. again, accomodations, while appreciated and expected, were tight. dover was giving all of us refresher baits, although he never got the hang of it. deville caught another. "holy smokes! another one!", he yelled as he spilled nothing while quickly grabing the rod. i was struck by the quickness. channel cat this time, which seemed to indicate some sort of victory in catfish's mind.

"they're starting to hit it! they're starting to hit it!", he cried to no one while the awkwardness of his pissing balance treatened to get us all. only his jeans took a soaking but he cared little as the second cat was captured. we stayed in the same spot for another thirty minutes. catfish was timing us. the baited west side awaited and we were sure the haul was going to supply that night's feast. fish fry and hushpuppies at sundown i silently thought.

"diddy, scoot over. we got to roll.", deville said while i hunkered down for the blast over to the west side. it was chilly. a perfectly grey and cold early afternoon. windy, as always on the great plains of texas. even a few white caps were seen in the deep of the middle.

we roared toward the other side, deville opening up the throttle. my leather field jacket was performing as promised. keeping me dry, warm, and protected from the elements. beads of water defected off the hide as we sped along. hassled earlier by catfish, i couldn't understand the mocking city smear. true enough, i do prefer loafers, but always have. they are three years old and the jacket is obviously and authentically worn. it has protected the owner many times as i walk to work. over and over. and over. right then, it was fulfilling it's worst-case scenario mission. then the engine died. a loud crack was all that was heard before the abrupt quiet of the engine.