Fishing for trouble

Editor’s note: This column originally ran Aug. 26, 2007.


Chaos (ka’os), n. The Random House Dictionary states one meaning is, “The formless matter supposed to have preceded the existence of the ordered universe.” Its most common use is to describe the loser line at an “American Idol” audition.

Why the definition lesson? Well, it was the only term that I could use to explain what happened a week ago when I went angling with Turk and Wild Willie at the Homer Spit’s Fishing Lagoon. I knew that getting those two near each other was a gamble, but it had been months since their last argument so I felt they might have mellowed a bit. Richter Scale mistake.

It all started off rather quietly. It was about 5 a.m. and both Turk and Willie were trying to keep their eyes focused while baiting up. Turk did OK, although his herring was upside down and looked like it was swimming backward. W.W. somehow managed to ensnare his bait on a bobber and then flung it halfway across the pond. This instantly drew the attention of a patrolling seagull that snatched up the mess and the fight was on.

Now, when Willie gets seriously annoyed, he has a tendency to bellow some very uncouth terms that prompt even seasoned sailors to flee the Kenai. This time around, he cleared out half the parking lot and a nearby Marine drill instructor went pale. Luckily the bird finally looked back, spotted the ranting fiend frantically hauling it toward shore, screeched and dropped W’s gear.

During Willie’s tantrum, Turk sat there in stunned disbelief and then bolted for the men’s room. I opted to return to the back of my pickup and rummage through an old tackle box until the tirade was over.

When we decided that it was safe to return, Willie was still fuming and had sworn off the use of herring. This was not a good thing. The ol’ boy abhorred using spinning lures because he considered it work and thought that it might jeopardize his unemployment checks. So he was setting up to do the one thing that Turk despised the most. W.W. had rigged up for “bobber snagging,” sending Turk searching for a hefty rock. I wasn’t sure if he was going to throw it at Willie or his rigging, but I figured that I’d better do something quick.

(Note: Bobber snagging is a technique utilized by those whose only fishing skill is being brilliant enough to jerk the line when fish inadvertently swim into it.)

I suggested that Willie try some eggs first and, if the fish still weren’t biting, we’d launch the boat. Turk just mumbled and returned to staring at his bobber. W.W. baited up with a bright red glob of his special “glowin’-goo” roe that turned the water into something resembling the aftermath of a piranha attack and left his hands looking like they belonged to a serial killer.

Things then quieted down, and needless to say, we had the south end of The Hole to ourselves until Tank and his owner showed up. The cur had a colossal head, rotund shaggy bod, and wouldn’t stay out of the water. According to his adult beverage-enhanced owner, he was a mixed-breed mutt whose mommy was a purebred St. Bernard. Turk took one look and proclaimed that “mommy” must have passed too close to a nuclear reactor after having a casual affair with a midget hippo.

Tank wasn’t on a leash and had been chasing birds around the area while its brew-belching master yelled out encouragement. We decided the dog was brain dead only its body didn’t know it. We also concurred that it was gifted compared to its keeper.

Just as the dull-witted duo rambled by, Turk tagged into a very large fish. Wild Willie also felt a tug and became engrossed in trying to land a demented crab that had become entrapped in his glop of bait. While the critters churned things up, Turk and Willie howled at each other to get the hell out the way. Tank decided that the pandemonium looked like fun and did a doggie half gainer into the pond to help Turk land his silver.

Unfortunately, he went through Wild Willie’s line to get to Turk’s.

I really can’t say much more until after the trial other than Tank’s owner has filed for the witness protection program (something about Turk and another large rock).

Hey, if you ever need an excellent example of chaos, come fishing with me. Just bring enough money for bail.

Nick can be reached at


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