I was out tonight with the best catch I ever made – my Joy – sharing carrot cake and catfish from….wait for it…the Catfish House. We found each other late in life, but fortunately, not too late. She understands me, and in spite of me, loves me. I don’t get it, but who am I to question my wife!
Anyway, we were discussing the upcoming Hobie BOS tournament, the KBF National Championship (the rest of our year neck deep in tournaments instead of normal vacations) when she pointed out a “Fisherman’s Ruler” on the wall across from us.
“You could use that in some of the tournaments couldn’t you?”
My first thought…I don’t need that, I am a professional!
My second thought…what are you saying?!?!?
But then my ego stepped aside and I thought that it would help were it legal. I mean, the line from throw back to keeper is close anyway…and…..
“It wouldn’t be allowed!”
“I know…but it could give you something to write about.”
And as always, I didn’t question her. So here I sit. Thinking about the ruler and the reality of fishing for all of us on some days. We don’t always perform well enough to win. Some days, the pedal/paddle back to the ramp is loooooooonnnnnggggg and filled with “what ifs” and “if onlys”.
Some days all we have at the check in are stories of almost.
“I had it, but I knocked it off at the boat.”
“I lost a 20 incher just as I reached for the net.”
“I was bit all day, but I couldn’t hook up.”
Then there are the days where all you have are the fish lies….the tales of fish sticks.
For years my Joy and I laughed as I would Bill Dance a fish stick (her word for a stick that felt like a fish) against the side of the boat after laying into a nice 36 inch limb bream and reeling for a few feet before accepting that I was not going to boat a new record.
No telling how many times I regaled the crowd with tales of my fishing prowess and ability to locate the bites…when it was probably more likely log hawgs that were biting.
Then, at Bienville, I met a guy heavy into tree pounders. He had been catching tree pounders all week! I was about to ask where, when it dawned on me what he was actually saying.
Having set the hook in every limb for the last two days, hoping beyond what would be possible, I understood. Even the fishermans ruler is never going to get anyone over that hump and make those winners!
But in that instant, and the conversation with Scott Beutjer that followed, I added to my vocabulary of fishing terms….and made a new friend…one of many on that trip.
So at the next tournament – you might want to listen closely as I again talk of my exploits…
…yeah, I lost a limb bream when it was eaten by a log hawg before it got off. But on the next cast a tree pounder slammed the spinner bait (w/chartreuse grub, tail UP), I landed it – 32 inches of solid fish stick….
…or maybe I will find some actual micropterus salmoides or micropterus dolomieu who are willing to be photographed….
But for today, I just hope this woman keeps loving me….and is there when I wake up every day for the rest of my life….
…..for Joy….who inspires and supports me….I do not need a ruler to know you are a keeper!