Some fishing stories are made up, others vary in their telling to adjust for length, ego or funniness. Others stories yearn to be told, over and over and over again, as they are simply the most outrageous stories you know, and unfortunately, they happen to be true.
It’s Jan. 15,7:00 a.m.
Get up, drink an excessive amount of caffeinated beverage and listen to the weather report. Pray that husband oversleeps.
Never mind, the dog is whining and the wind is howling (reverse that). Pray again. With certain fervor request that your spouse not pick the coldest, windiest, most miserable day since the ice age to go fishing.
Witness husband rise, look out of the frost-painted window and promptly declare it a good day to go fishing. Decide that you have sinned in a past life. Pack the family up and head for a promising, remote little lake, say, 20 minutes north of town.
NOTE: “Family” should consist of at least one mommy, one male child under the age of 7 and another male child about 40-something. Also include: one Swiss Army knife, an ice auger, tackle, cured salmon eggs that have been dyed an unnatural shade of fuchsia, a propane heater and Lab who is currently in heat.
Don’t forget to bring that really cool new lightweight ice-fishing shanty that Santa dearest brought for Christmas. (What was that fat old man thinking, anyway?)
After four potty breaks (simply delightful when wearing a one-piece Shamoo snowsuit) arrive at the doomination, er, destination. Laugh as the big kid teaches the small one how to write his name in pale yellow.
Load all the “stuff” onto the sled and head on out to the ice. Refrain from reciting what they used to do with the Eskimo elders when they became senile; rather, generally reference the idea that you may abandon your husband on this barren piece of frozen wasteland if he doesn’t get the shanty up and SOON! Overemphasize this sentiment by loudly and irritatingly chattering teeth together. Smile, but imply a snarl while doing this. Begin to mentally review your wedding vows. Was ice fishing part of the “worse” clause?
Try to remain cheerful while your husband drills holes in the ice, because, as he has so wisely has pointed out, he is, “the man.”
Forget everything. The dog has discovered the cured salmon eggs and is now making laps around the lake as mother and child chase dog while the “man of the shanty” is still busy constructing the temporary housing unit.
Retrieve eggs from Lab. Toss the slobbery gloppy mess on the ice. Begin to perspire. Wipe hands on forehead. Realize you now probably have a glowing pink sweaty forehead. Be glad there are no mirrors out here. Go into newly assembled, but unstaked shanty. Peel a few layers off mother and child. Begin to set up the cute little fishy poles. Hear a noise. Jam sharp little hell hook into your thumb. Call to hunter-gatherer. Inform him of the medical crisis then ask, “What’s that racket?”
Realize that the sound you hear is a coyote or wolf or some dogggone mutt in the woods. Hear the Lab answer. Hear wind blow. Hear the Lab take off. Decide to retrieve the retriever. Look down. Remember you are still hooked. Reach for knife to cut line. Trip over the five-pound boots. Kick the knife toward hole. Lunge but miss. Slide dead-on into the propane heater. Burn a hole in the shanty large enough to stick your face through. Go ahead, stick your face through.
See the dog rediscover the eggs. Run dog, run. Chase the dog that has dropped the salmon eggs and is now chasing the wild dog while simultaneously dragging shanty across lake with giggling child in tow while your significant other yes, oh yes videotapes the entire event, cracking himself a beer and narrating something about pink war paint.
Repent for what you almost just said. Step in salmon egg pile. Stomp foot. Find test hole with loose boot.
11: 05:30 a.m.
Take back repentance. Wonder how that went: “‘Til death do us part?”
Jacki Michels is a recovering commercial fisherwoman and an avid sportfisher. She lives in Soldotna.
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