When you’ve been married for over 30 years, there are bound to be a few stories to tell.
Experiences that leave you shaken, grateful, inspired, motivated, and deliriously happy.
And then there are those experiences that make friends and family beg you to write and share because they’re amazing, funny, hair-raising, and more.
This story is one of many that will be in a book to be self-published in the next year or so.
It is a story about fishing.
It is a story about communication.
It is a story about relationships.
He loves to fish.
He wants me to love to fish.
He taught me how to fish for bass. And, in this story, he wants to teach me how to fish for bluegill and sunfish.
I’ve titled it…
Do Fish Have Lips?
“Hey, I’ve got the fishing gear ready, you done?” Rick hollered from the edge of the water as he finished putting the fishing gear in the boat.
I wiped my hands on my jeans as I tamped out the campfire we had used to cook breakfast. The lingering smell of bacon and wood smoke would soon be gone so I enjoyed a final sniff of goodness.
We were tent camping at West Boggs Lake, a beautiful small lake in southern Indiana. Our setup was on a point, not quite a peninsula, and a favorite spot for many who came here to fish.
“I’m done!” I declared as I walked to the water’s edge and then carefully stepped into the boat, taking my seat in front.
It was a ‘v' bottom aluminum fishing boat, so the seat was raised and it felt weird to be sitting above the water. I was getting used to it, though, as this was our fourth time using it.
He pushed us out from the bank and started the trolling motor. We slowly moved out to the main body of water. It was early enough that a light mist still covered the lake and I could see the silhouettes of people fishing from their small boats and a few from the bank.
“Oh man, today is perfect for fishing!” he said, almost in a whisper, “you know they bite better when it’s overcast. I hope you like this cove I found because the last time I was here it was packed with bluegill.”
I smiled at his excitement as he continued to talk about how fun it was to fish here, that we were sure to catch a mess of fish.
I breathed in the cool air and enjoyed the feeling of peace and calm that came with being surrounded by water and trees. The only sounds were the low hum of the trolling motor and his low voice, as he talked about live bait, how many fish he had caught last week, the honey hole he had found.
Just a few minutes later and we were at the entrance to this cove. It was almost blocked by fallen trees and gray dead tree limbs, but he maneuvered us around them and kept the boat really close to the bank.
So close I was ducking and dodging leaf-covered tree limbs, holding tight to the sides of the seat cushion so I wouldn’t get knocked over.
A moment later we rounded the bend and the cove opened up. To my right was an area filled with dead trees, about 10’ out from the bank, a lot of random gray limbs and trunks sticking up. This is what he says is the best environment for bluegill and sunfish.
He slowly moved us to one of the gray tree trunks. I sat and watched with admiration as he tied off the back of the boat to this gray trunk, then duck walked past me so he could tie off the front of the boat to the top limb of a tree I could barely see below the water’s surface.
He handed me a fishing pole. As he was telling me, again, how to fish with a bobber, he baited my hook and then said, “Okay, you’re set! Now cast toward the bank and on the other side of those dead trees.”
I was careful to not cast too hard. I didn’t want to catch a tree limb. And, I was so pleased with myself. I did it just right. That baited hook landed a few feet from the bank and began to sink.
The round, red and white bobber sat on the water surface and I focused all of my attention on it.
If it moved, I was going to know it.
“Damn, Charlene! You didn't have to rip the lips off!!!”
His deep voice thundered over the water while we both hung on the sides of the rocking boat to keep it from tipping over.
I had seen the bobber go under and I reacted. The force of my trying to set the hook rocked that boat so hard that water splashed in and yes, flipping over was a possibility.
“Hey! You told me to watch the bobber and when it was pulled under I was to set the hook. I set the hook!”
He reached out over the edge of the boat and grabbed my line, bringing the hook up out of the water.
“I told you to set the hook on a bass, not a bluegill! Good Lord, girl, look at your hook – you tore the lips right off!”
He dangled the hook in front of me. I could see some white … things … on it. There they were.
“Well, YOU told me what to do. I did it. If it wasn't such a weenie fish I would have pulled it into the boat.”
His eyebrows went up fast, then he sighed and said “No such thing as a weenie fish, dear. Well, that's okay, you tried. I'm more upset about that danged seat!”
It was then I realized that when I pulled that pole up and behind me, I did it with such force that the raised seat I was on snapped in half. I wondered how I managed to not tumble out of the boat.
“Oh, well, I'm sorry about that, honey. Surely you can fix it.”
“No! No! No I cannot fix it.” he was raising his voice again,”First, it’s a brand new seat and now it's shot to hell! Second, it snapped ragged, not clean. Third, get your pole back in the boat because we're going back to camp!”
If we had been on solid ground by now he would have been stomping away. As it was, he was stuck in the boat … with me.
“No, I'm not putting my pole away. I'm not done fishing. This time I won't yank so hard to set the hook.”
He looked at me, stunned. His face beet red, the tips of his ears even redder.
The top of his bald head was beaded with sweat.
And, if looks could kill I have a feeling I wouldn't be here today, sharing this story. Then he looked over my shoulder and as his eyes widened he said “well, at least we provided entertainment for someone!”
I looked behind me and sure enough, there was a bass boat with two men on it, slowly backing out of the cove. They were quiet enough, though their shoulders were shaking from laughter.
I turned back to my husband of 15 years, the man who had patiently taught me how to fish for bass and crappie and now bluegill.
The man who had loaned me his favorite, lucky Remington Red fishing pole.
The man who took pride in having his own boat, small and humble as it was, to take his wife to his favorite fishing hole.
I looked at him and with as much sweetness and kindness and tenderness I could muster, I said “Honey, shhhh, you're yelling and they just might think you're going to hurt me.”
A surprised look came over his face. Then he sighed and smiled and soon was laughing.
“Hey, you know what? Let's get rid of that seat, bait up some hooks, and keep an eye out for that fish. I bet he'll float to the top soon.”
We fished for another couple of hours. We did catch a few sunfish and bluegill. And, I got the hang of setting the hook gently so I could catch the whole fish, not just the lips.
That lipless fish never did float to the top.
If you laughed, smiled, held your breath, and wondered if I could bring your product or service to life for your prospects … I can. If you're willing to share details with me.
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