It started out humbly enough. I'd get up
early, be on the lake by dawn, fish until
the heat became overbearing, and head on
The attendant at the boat landing near my home
had called on Thursday.
"They're tearing 'em up right here!" he said. "Right
off the landing, in the trees! Big goggle-eye and
Of course, there was no need to say more. The words
"goggle-eye" and "chinquapin" coupled with that most
wonderful of adjectives, "big", was enough to set
me into gear. I was already envisioning a fish fry,
particularly for my mom. My mom will get in a fight
with a circular saw for fried goggle-eye.
Friday night, my gal and I met up with another couple
at the lounge in the casino, and I admit to a very
slight overindulgence in the firewater. I find it
somehow amusing that the Indians are now giving
away firewater for free to those actively gambling
at the casino, but that's neither here nor there.
We weren't gambling, anyway, never do. But we do
like the lounge.
At 5:30 a.m. Saturday, the point is, I felt just
a tad ragged, but not too badly to get going.
The landing is less than two miles from home,
and when I arrived there with the boat, I was
dismayed to see that water lilies had covered
it for yards and yards out over the lake, except
for one spot just big enough to launch two boats
side by side.
I paid my three dollars, and dropped the boat
into the lake. But upon trying to pull the
trailer out of the water, it refused to budge.
The truck was spinning wheels. It's not a big
truck, but it's a full-size Chevy with a Vortech
V-6. Still, the trailer wouldn't come out.
Another angler came by to help, jumping on the
back bumper of the truck to help gain traction,
but still no-go.
"It's probably stuck on a dropoff," he said.
"May have to pick up the back of it to get
the tires rolling."
Dismal, I waded out to the back of the trailer
while he got behind the wheel of my truck. He
gunned it, spinning up white smoke from my tires,
and I picked up on the trailer. No cigar.
Finally, the attendant came with his little truck,
we hooked up a chain to mine, and he pulled.
The trailer emerged from the water at last,
then stopped midway. There was a length of
one-inch pipe gone under the frame and out,
then around the axle, disappearing somewhere
in the water behind the trailer. Me and the
kind person who was helping me both had to
use a lot of muscle to bend it enough to get
the trailer to slip out.
The attendant swore he'd have it removed. I
figured I was done with the whole sordid business
and took off in the boat, soaked up to the waist,
but determined to go fishing...
Sure enough, just along the lilies near the
southwest bank of Grande Lake, the goggle-eye
and the chinquapin were simply falling
head-over-heels in love with a chartreuse and
black Jitterbee under a VOSI, the venerable
Vertically Oriented Strike Indicator. My
four-weight rod made the experience even
Until I touched the foot control of the
Already there were five nice fish in the livewell,
and I could see my mom's grinning face at supper.
But then I touched the foot control of the trolling
motor to move the boat a bit farther down the
line of lilies, and WHACK!
The motor began dancing a jig, gyrating and
jumping all over. I knew what that meant, but
I had to lift the motor up just to be sure.
I was sure. One blade was completely broken off.
End of fishing trip. I do not paddle 18' fiberglass
Cajun bass boats with V-6 Johnson outboards around,
The fish come out of the livewell, back in the
water. Back to the landing. This time, I back
the trailer down on the opposite side of the
narrow slot between the lillies, then bring
the boat on.
Of course, the trailer refused to come out
of the water.
I am passed annoyed now. I am rapidly approaching
The attendant comes with his truck and chain
again, but this time, with the weight of the
Cajun on the trailer, she ain't budging.
He's a good fellow, the attendant. We talk a
lot, tell jokes. But he's confused and embarassed,
as I am.
"We pulled that pipe out of the water while you
were gone," he said. "I'll be durned if I know
what's got you now. Nobody ever gets stuck here.
I've never seen it."
Figures. Leave it to me to break a record.
So he gets his big farm tractor, and we try
pulling the truck, boat and trailer out with
that. Nope, ain't happening.
"What will you give me to leave it here?" I
asked. "Make it kind of a landmark. Something
to remember me by."
About that time, another fisherman comes by
and offers to try pulling me out with his
four-wheel drive truck. I agree, and we give
it a shot. This does the trick, and I am at
last safely on the hard surface.
I look at the trailer, and the axle is covered
with clamshell, the material the boat landing
is surfaced from. There is, apparently, a ledge
out there which the axle of the trailer fell
over, and it took quite a bit of effort to
pull it up.
I thank the folks who helped me and head home,
then spend an hour hosing down the truck and
the boat, which are covered with a gooey mess
comprised of mud, clamshell fragments, sodden
water lilies and other debris. Then I go take
Monday I ordered two new props for the trolling
motor, one as a spare to keep in the boat along
with a nine-sixteenths wrench. Meanwhile, I'm
hearing folks all over talking about fishing
"The basin is hot!" they say. "It's smoking!
Just throw a line out, the fish are everywhere!
They're jumping in the boat! They're throwing
themselves on the fillet table!"
My new props should come in Friday. Should.
The way my luck has been going, I'm doubtful.
Even if they do arrive, I'm awaiting the next
calamity with a sense of dread.
Murphy was a fisherman. I guarantee it. ~ Roger