Well, it's the morning after our Umpteenth Annual Black Friday Minnow Fishing Trip On Clear Lake. It's the one day of the year we fish live bait. I picked Larry and Sturmer up at at the Park-n-Ride at 0530 in the morning in my new to me Tundra and we headed out. About two minutes out Sturmer, now 86, started talking about the widow ladies who are out to snag him at the Old Folks Home aka The Porciline Palace. Larry started in with his yearly update, in minute detail, of what happens to his digestive track if he gets off his gluten free diet. I livened things up by talking about our friends who have died over the past year.
An hour later, we pulled into Granzella's for breakfast. Tony, Aaron, Keith, Dick and Dewey were already there. Larry put a damper on a really good breakfast because of his stories, in detail, of what happens to his "system" if he eats gluten stuff. Several of us, mostly Dick, were on the leadership team that put together a Take A Vet Fishing event on Veterans Day Weekend. It was a success with about 20 boats. We were hemhawing about that until Tony accidentally dumped most of his coffee onto Keith's half eaten breakfast. Aaron was embarrassed because Tony is his dad and it was hard for him to see his dad enter elderhood by doing stupid stuff.
We then talked about minnows. Tony, always the optimist, was going to buy 7 dozen, me, the realist, 4 dozen, and Dick, the 'ole squeeze the nickel until the buffalo farts, 3 dozen. The cost of all those minnows would have made a good down payment on the the truck. An hour later we were at the lake, the boat had been inspected (quagga muscles), the rods rigged with 1/0 circle hooks and a small split shot about 30" above the hook (rocket science), and four dozen minnows had been dumped into the live well. The minnows were lively little things and were looking forward to a great day of fishing. They frolicked in the well and several were jumping out of the water. I listened and could hear a very high-pitched, "Take me, take me. Please, please please." Sturmer couldn't hear them because he's old and going deaf. Larry couldn't hear them either because every time he poked his stomach, he'd fart. Gluten does that, I guess.
We finally got on the water after Larry got out of the bathroom. It was an ugly weather day. The wind was crankin' at about 25 mph and 18"-24" whitecaps covered the lake. We graphed fish right away, but they were at 30'. It was next to impossible to control the trolling motor to get the bait down. The boat seems to get a mind of it's own in winds like that and after 45 minutes it was time to move. That's about the time Sturmer had to pee. It seems the pee bucket was still in my garage so I told him he had to pee over the side, front, or back of the boat. You have to understand that Sturmer is mostly want to bionic...three knee replacements and one hip. One of the knees is kind of jerky so he didn't want to stand at the front of the boat in 2' whitecaps. He said he'd "hold it". I told him he'd have to find it first, but he didn't laugh.
We managed to find the leeward sides of a couple islands and conditions improved, but the fishing didn't. Zero fish after about 4 hours. Larry and I each had a bite, but that was it. In desperation, we took a long run to my 100 % hole. Bingo, bango, bongo...Strumer got a nice four pounder. I had put each of us in for the big fish pot so I told him to hang tight while I got the scale. I turned for the scale when I heard the "KERPLOP". Larry and I were yelling, but Sturmer's reply of "huh" pretty much said it all.
The rain started at about 1:30 and we made the long run back in. All three boats made it back within ten minutes of each other. Aaron caught a 10 catfish, Dick, a 3.8# largemouth and Sturmer, an illegal +/- 4# largemouth. Dick took the money home.
And so ends another chapter of the Umpteenth Annual Black Friday Minnow Fishing Trip On Clear Lake. I still don't know how much longer we'll all be around. Hopefully, the kids, Keith and Aaron, will keep it alive. They haven't reached their 40's yet.
Fishing trips like this are a whole lot more important than catching a fish. Most people go through their lives without knowing what we have. You learn a whole lot about somebody when you spend a day on the water with them. Over time, you're able to laugh at each other's infirmaties and unabashedly cry at the other's loss of a loved one. These friendships run deep.
Same time, same place, next year.