Fishing Trip

They stand around gas pumps. They’re usually male, a little long in the tooth, but occasionally there are younger men also, sucking on “Mountain Dews’ and munching bags of “Skittles” or “Doritos”.

They caravan. It’s made up of at least two pick-ups and a sport utility vehicle. As one truck finishes refueling, the next one moves forward. The men lean over hitches, making sure trailers are secured and cup their hand over wheel hubs and check for overheated bearings. No, it’s not Hannibal heading for the Alps, just the guys headed north on a fishing trip.

Our lives are peppered with rituals, daily, weekly and yearly. The protocols of the annual adventure up north for our fishing crew must be observed.

Discussion begins about the first week in February during the “Super Bowl” game. Instead of watching Mickey Mouse and his ears, Beyoncé’s butt or Madonna’s cleavage during the half time show, last summers’ trip video is reviewed – – – with editorial comment. Wives roll their eyes.

To accommodate feminine sensitivities regarding colorful expletives on a catch or heaven forbid miss – (NBR – Near Boat Release or RBR – Remote from Boat Release), a sanitized version of the tape is displayed, expletives deleted. This trip down memory lane gets adrenalin pumping and some discussion ensues about when the next trip will be. The postcard size calendar from Frog Rapids Camp has arrived a week before, so the discussion is timely. A date is set, money committed and phone call made.

About mid-July, thoughts of a Canadian getaway arise. A “Strategic Nuclear Planning Session” is called.  Lunch at a local restaurant provides a venue for a caucus on logistics. It’s not all that complicated. After years of doing the planning, the whole process is pretty pro-forma. How to split costs is clear now. There is even a designated accountant. We still haven’t figured out how to make the trip tax deductible. I suppose we’ll have to invite a lawyer some year to figure that out.

Those that bring boats have a more complicated role. Everything needs to work. Between the mechanical and the electronic, you never know! One year, the very last day of the trip, a lower unit took a hit on a reef, a depth finder kept showing at least 10,000 fish marching in neat little rows – – – in the marina, and a SUV had a blowout. Some days it’d seem easier to go to the locker plant and buy the “Catch of the Day.”

Another aspect of the ritual is naming of fishing spots. “Donnies Bar” is not a local 3.2 establishment, but a reef extending from an island tip out into the middle of a lake. It got its name one night when a local stopped by to ask us if we had seen Donnie? We were clueless about Donnie or his whereabouts, but the name stuck. “Bali Hai”, a few miles down the lake is not a south sea isle with maidens beckoning from shore, but a whimsical (wishful?) name applied to a pine-strewn island.

To the uninformed, the guys standing around gas pumps next to pickups, sport utility vehicles and boats appear to be aimless. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are on a mission. Whether it falls into the impossible category remains to be seen.

Author: Doug Lewandowski

I have walked a varied path. I was a Christian Brother, an English teacher/counselor and Licensed Psychologist. I have a twice monthly column in the Duluth News Tribune and have had a story published in the Nemadji Review and placed third in this year’s Jade Ring contest of the Wisconsin Writer’s Association. I was a commentator for KCRB, Minnesota Public Radio in the 90s. I transplanted to Duluth to be closer to grandchildren.

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