Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cast Party

In the summer, even though we haven't done ANY camping due to a permanent malfunction with our trailer-pulling truck...and a hopefully non-permanent malfunction with our truck-replacing bank account, my mind wanders to the forest by bodies of water.  While my mind is out, wandering willy-nilly among the trees, it notices things that it then relates back to me in excruciating detail.  Usually at night, when I am trying to sleep, and have to get up early the next morning.  These memories are then the stories I relate to you all.

The last few camping stories have been about a friend of mine, since we went camping together a lot, but today I thought I would pick on a member of my family for a change.  My cousin Tom.  His family and my family did a lot of camping together while we were growing up.  There were times that we would stay for a week at a lake or a river and just hang out.  Tom was a bit more outdoorsy than me.  Of course that is like saying that centipedes have a few more feet than I do...but let's not quibble over semantics.  I am suddenly reminded, though, that after spending many unfruitful hot hours sitting on the edge of a lake, drowning worms, swatting mosquitoes, and essentially practicing casting, Tom's sister Kay came over and asked for a shot at fishing.  I, of course, said "Sure" since there were obviously no fish in the entire lake...and I was beginning to have my suspicions about whether or not there were any fish anywhere on the planet.  Kay took my rod and reel, cast it into the exact spot I was fishing, and in about eight seconds was walking back to her dad to show him the fish she caught.  Oh well...I wanted to go make myself a glass of Tang anyway.  Did you know that the astronauts drank that stuff?

Another time Tom and I were stomping around the banks of a smallish river/largish stream and I was watching him fish.  I went into semi-retirement after the whole showed-up-by-my-cousin incident at the lake. We walked around talking about nothing in particular (which was always my favorite part of fishing anyway) and the fish were not biting.  We didn't know it at the time but they were all in a group at the water's edge next to Kay...just waiting for her to hold out her hands, or a frying pan, so they could climb over each other to jump into her grasp...but I'm not bitter.  After quite a while, and the call from the camp that lunch was about to be ready, Tom decided that the best fishing would be in the middle of the water, casting upstream, and avoiding all of the trees from the bank so he could really send it out there.

We waded into the middle of the water and told the family that it would be one more cast and then we would come in.  Tom leaned back, set the reel, took a deep breath, and flung that Super Duper (#503) lure as hard as he could!  It was poetry!  There, standing in the middle of the river, looking upstream into the beauty of God's creation with enormous birch and fir trees leaning over each side of the bank casting shadows over their portion of the wide and swift cascading crystal blue water Tom had threaded the needle.  His lure did not go into the trees.  He wouldn't have been so rude as to trample on my specialty of catching the ever popular tree-trout.  His lure went straight down the sunny center of the river and disappeared into the distance.  It was unnatural how far it went!  It just seemed to go on forever!

Now, I always thought Tom was a great guy but this magnificent cast had ratcheted his stock up a few notches.  I was seriously impressed that anyone could have aligned the cosmic tumblers so perfectly with the right wind speed, line strength, reel tension, and aim to come together all at the same time.  I looked, open-mouthed, from the last place I could make out the lure to Tom's face.  His ever-present smile was just a little bit bigger right now.  The sides of his mouth pushing up toward his laughing eyes.  It was like a smirk that had just gotten completely out of control.  He started reeling it in.  He knew what he had done and the amazing cast he had made.  I think he was secretly glad that his pudgy bespectacled cousin was there as a witness to this religious event.  At this point telling you that a fish was on the other end of the line would have been too much.  My dear readers would be knocking over their computer monitors and yelling "SHENANIGANS!" into the air.  I agree.  While I do enjoy a good fish story, and I have been known to spin a tall tale once in a while, I will remind you that this is 100% true!

There we stood in the center of the river reeling in the lure.  Neither of us could stop grinning... still he reeled.  Lunch was all but forgotten...still he reeled.  We had our excuse ready for when our moms asked us why we were late...still he reeled.  Then he reeled some more.  And still more.  And suddenly the realization that even if he had caught the tail end of a low flying plane and it had pulled most of the line off of his reel...he would have been done by now.  Simultaneously we looked down at the reel as he continued to turn the crank...and we saw the tiniest end of the fishing line, flipflipflipflip, as it went around and around.  The lure had broken the line and flown off into the next county.  We laughed and worked our way back out of the river so we could go eat our balogna sandwiches, plain potato chips, tiny handfuls of homemade Gorp (trail mix complete with carob chips), and wash it all down with Tang (Did I mention that astronauts drink that stuff).

I don't really remember the reaction from the family to our telling of the greatest cast story in all history, but I will never forget the fun we had on all those trips together.  And Tom, don't worry.  The line breaking didn't make your standing go down a single notch.  In order to slide down that scale you would have had to do something particularly heinous... like catch a fish with my gear... in a matter of seconds... after I had been sitting in the hot sun working on my second degree sunburns and getting eating by mosquitoes... for hours... without so much as a single nibble!  But honestly, who would ever do something as horrible as that?