Subourbon Mom

Fishing Frenzy
Early morning on Kerr Lake

Early morning on Kerr Lake

Fishing, like golf, or the television show Survivor, pares people down to their basic personality traits.  Unfortunately like golf and Survivor, it often does this in the company of others; even more often, it does this in the company of good friends or family.  This past week, I was with my family on our annual vacation to Kerr Lake, on the border of North Carolina and Virginia. The fishing is never very good (rather, we aren’t ever really good at it), but this year, Hubby decided he was going to embrace fishing like he does everything else—with enthusiasm that is infectious and fun, and with a competitive nature that could turn even the most relaxed morning into a crazed, smack-talking showdown worthy of the WWF.

Every day, Hubby and I rose at 6:00, made coffee, and woke up my brother. It was the highlight of my day, standing at the window, looking out at the mist rising off the water as Hubby, my brother and I did the coffee dance around the spoons, milk, sugar and creamer, all the while trying not to flinch at the open bottles of bourbon and rum sitting on the counter from the night before.




The only sounds outside were the crowing of a rooster nearby and the slapping of our shoes on the dirt path to the dock. Herons let out their primordial screeches as they sought new perches when we intruded. Swirls erupted on the surface of the water.

And the tournament began…

For two days the fishing was good—a few bass, a crappie, a few catfish and a perch. Hubby was thrilled with his catches, and kept a running tally in his head for size, number caught, etc. My brother declared he’d brought prizes for the most fish caught, biggest fish, and a consolation prize. There was a spirited discussion whether the catfish that landed on the dock but jumped off the hook and the dock counted (it did), and whether fish counted if they we were too lazy to learn how to clean them (they didn’t).

So, Hubby and I learned to clean fish.

The last day did not bode well. We were all tied up, and the tension was mounting. Maybe I was tired.  Maybe the fishing Gods had had enough of our greed. Maybe it was the rain. Whatever the reason, something inside of me snapped.

First, my brother had a huge fish on his line, reeling it in. His pole was nearly bent in half, and I could see the excitement in his eyes. Just as he got it to the boat, Moby Dick swam underneath it and jumped off. My brother let out a string of curses I’d only ever heard him say in pain or extreme anger.  He sat down in misery.

“I can’t believe it got away,” he mumbled.  “I can honestly say that was the biggest fish I’ve ever had on my line before.”

A nice sister would have patted his shoulder, said something mildly consoling and kept on fishing, letting him gather up his enthusiasm to continue.

Not me.

“Well, it’s too bad you weren’t man enough to land it,” I said.

Both he and Hubby stared at me in disbelief. I heard what I’d said and couldn’t believe it, either. Who was this person I’d become? I knew neither of them would have ever said the equivalent to me. I apologized and tried to say some platitudes, but they fell flat, and for good reason.

Later, both Hubby and my brother pulled in fish at the same time while I drove, rod cradled in my arm (I still hadn’t even had a nibble). From somewhere deep inside, anger welled up and I snarled, “I hate both of you!” (Okay, there was a curse word in there, too, but I try to keep these clean). Both men turned around and stared at me, probably wondering if I’d been back on the sauce since we went to bed, then went back to landing their fish. For the rest of the day, that phrase was repeated over and over again, sometimes with a shake of the head, sometimes just because they knew I was embarrassed. Gotta love the family.

Usually, fishing calms and soothes me, even when I’m with others. I don’t know what happened that day, but I turned into the John MacEnroe of the bass world. I like to think I was tired, but after realizing that other people’s basic personalities were showcased when they were fishing (my brother is quiet and supportive, Hubby is competitive but fun, both daughters are very empathetic and pleaded to set the fish free), I am beginning to think I’m just not a very nice person.

The others have gone back home, and I’ve just finished cleaning up the house. I think it’s time to go back down to the water and try to recapture the person I used to be when I fished for hours by myself, meditating through the monotony of casting and reeling. There is a time for competition, and I’ll bring it next year, but until then, it’s time to put away the jet ski, grab myself an iced tea and remember why I love the being on the lake so much.

Maybe fishing isn’t a reflection of the person you are. Maybe it’s a reflection of what you’re bringing to the lake when you arrive. Either way, I have some work to do. Whether it’s internal, or my crazy “subourbon” schedule is making crazy, I’m looking forward to my fishing lobotomy.


5 Comments so far
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Love the article! I read it out loud to Dan and he filled in the parenthesis before i read them out loud – like – she had a curse word in there , etc.- as always funny and insightful post!
Thanks for a great vacation!


Comment by Sue Ann aka ridge runner

Love this!!! Your poor brother….I really feel for him. ha ha


Comment by stephaniehudnell

A great awareness. Sometimes the lesson hurts. Great story. You kept me “hooked.”


Comment by Sharon

Thanks! Funny, as much as I ranted & felt terrible, both Hubby and brother called to tell me to stop wallowing. 🙂



Comment by libbyhall

[…] Fishing Frenzy […]


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