Friday, March 7, 2008

A Regular Fish

To jack me up to normal height and get me around I have used everything from toe-shoes to the everyday sheet-rocker's stilts and the extraordinary Kinesthetic Extenders Doc Howe devised, but as a ten or twelve year old at Lake Bonaparte I preferred to wear only swim fins.
The ladies all said, "That William is a regular fish."
True enough. I have always been able to hold my breath for long periods and used to do it so long just sitting on the floor, that the dog would worry and lick my face until I breathed. People only noticed whether I breathed or not if I was under water. So when they watched from the shore, I made sure to come up every minute or two....before people started to worry.
I wore my fins when I was on the beach, on my way to or from the beach, at the dinner table , and in the boat when Davey and I went fishing.
In those days, he was mostly into gunning big plugs with his new fiberglass rod, so he let me use the stubby solid- steel rod which had been his before.
After ten or fifteen minutes of bobbing a jig directly under the boat and leaning over to try and see what was down there, I would go overboard to fin around.
Davey was there to catch fish, not observe them, and he thought I might scare them off. But only a fish born yesterday would not already have been aware of us motoring up , dropping the anchor, and then floating over them like a blimp, while throwing plugs everywhere...but I would swim along the surface at the outer edge of Davey's casting range, to now and then call out the location of a decent sized fish lurking in the weeds.
I called out Pike, or Walleye, or Bass, but not the inexplicable Squids as big as a bears , (unless it was the same squid each time) or the large trout with the high forehead of a whale, and huge lateral spots like port holes streaming light. To say nothing of the stone horse in its back in the muck, or the catfish big as a cow, asleep on on the bottom.

Anyway, our fishing trips together pretty much stopped one day when I was swimming a little too close in on Davey's casting range and called out a Pike, while raising my hand and pointing almost straight down at the fish.
Davey cast so quick he allmost hit my head with the Pikie Minnow, and when he tried to jerk the plug away, set four out of the possible nine hooks in to my left shoulder.
So I swam to the boat before he could jerk some more or try to reel me in. Once I was in the boat, Davey bent the barbs down with the long-nose, disgorging pliers and I backed the hooks out myself, so we didn't have to go to the doctor. We didn't even go back to the island right then, but, before getting back in the water, I waited until we
were sure there was absoutely no bleeding so my blood wouldn't attract the attention of The Big Snapping Turtle, or the famous monster Muskalunge the size of a canoe which had survived from the long ago attempt to stock them into the lake.
I never saw the Monster Musky, so maybe it was just a boy's tale, but I still have the treble-hook scars on my left shoulder. I should get them tatooed over with the image of that Pikie Minnow.

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