Subourbon Mom

Kayak Fishing: Being Bitch-Slapped by a Fish
October 18, 2017, 7:00 pm
Filed under: Misc. Humor, Sports, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

swordfishI recently got my Cabela’s weekly supplement in the mail.  As I was flipping through, marveling at the wide assortment of camouflage apparel and accessories, I came across a sale on fishing kayaks.

I’m a big fan of fishing – I love getting up at dawn, racing along the still waters of the lake to “the spot,” and casting in that rhythmic way that feels like meditating.  I even love the small heart attack every nibble and bite produces – yes, I am probably the only person in the world who can make fishing stressful. But I still love it.

I also like kayaking – not as much, but it’s great exercise and is a wonderful way to see different things along the shoreline that you might otherwise not notice going 20 knots in the boat.

I DO NOT, however, like the idea of doing those two things at the same time.

funny kayakI do not want to be on the same plane as the fish, especially if it’s a big catfish flopping around with spikes that can ruin your corn-on-the-cob-holding hand.  Just because I like to eat a jar of pickles at a time doesn’t mean I want to sit in a vat of pickle juice while I do it.

I cannot fathom hooking a big old bass, wrestling it into…my lap?  Are you kidding me?  That small heart attack I mentioned would be nothing to the panic that would ensue after I got bitch-slapped by that fish.

Plus, I saw the movie Jaws.  I am NOT going to hook a fish and be dragged to my death, bobbing and weaving like those yellow barrels.


So thank you, Cabela’s and all you avid sportspeople for combining two peaceful activities into one stressful, death-inducing trip into angler Hell.

You better believe “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”



I’d Never Make it as a Mobster

Lately, I’ve been learning a lot of things about myself—some good, but most of them not flattering. For example, as I’ve gotten older, my brain-to-mouth filter has gotten, shall we say…porous? Hard to believe, I know. But one of my most recent self-discoveries had nothing to do with the new job. It had everything to do with one of our favorite American traditions—hiding the bodies.

This week, with the 4th of July coming up and the buzz around the US Soccer Team creating a surreal sports hype I was feeling nostalgic for some American traditions. What better tradition than to devote a weekend doing yard work and drinking beer? So, we went to the lake, where we have a small house and a boat, and enough chores to keep Hubby busy burning stuff for a lifetime. One of our chores was to finally sink this year’s Christmas tree in a secret fishing spot. In theory, the sunken tree will attract crappie and other fish (if you ever see fisherman randomly sitting 20 yards or so off of…nothing, you can bet there’s a sunken tree down there somewhere). Mind you, this is

a)    illegal, and

b)   a messy activity involving pine sap and pine needles that are impossible to get out of indoor-outdoor carpet.

It’s also harder than you’d think. First, I had to drag the tree to the dock because some people were a little concerned about spiders and lizards. Then we tied a cinder block to the tree so it would sink (the arborist version of cement shoes). Daughters 1&2 held the tree in the water in front of the boat while we idled over to the secret spot. With a flourish we let the tree go and backed the boat away.

The tree floated like a bobber.

Or a body.

Apparently, one cinder block wasn’t enough. In the meantime, the ski boats that whirl around our little piece of lake were watching.

Hubby was getting nervous…he sat on the front of the boat, feet dangling in the water as he tried to guide the carcass with a stick.

“Stop! Back up! You can’t go that fast!” All the while the body, er, tree was bobbing up and down for the whole world to see.

Eventually, we nudged the tree back to the dock and tied two more cinder blocks to it and headed back out.

“Hurry up!” Hubby said. “You know this is illegal, right?”

I nodded. “Yeah, but everybody does it.” Pause. “Do you want to stop?”

Hubby said, in true, fatalistic accomplice fashion, “No, they’ve seen us now. We may as well finish.”

Five minutes later, we had sunk our tree, praying it was deep enough not to get hung up in someone else’s boat prop, but also hoping the fishermen would snag it often enough with their lines that they would stop trolling along our piece of shoreline at 6:00am.

The boat was littered with evidence (it still is)—pine needles in the carpet, sap on the seats and our hands and legs, like Lady MacBeth’s blood. At least three ski boats saw our crime—hopefully we looked intimidating enough (me in my tankini and Hubby in one of his soccer dad t-shirts) to scare them into silence.

So what did I learn from my near-mobster activity?

  1. Do your illegal activities at night—no witnesses, and it saves on your breakfast revisiting you in the form of anxiety-induced heart burn
  2. Use plastic sheets to keep the evidence off of your stuff—there’s a reason they always assassinate the victims with plastic bags on the floor.
  3. Carcasses are more buoyant than you think
  4. I cannot pull off acting cool when I’m doing something “illegal”—we took treated lumber to the dumpster once and I was as nervous as if we were doing a drug deal in the middle of The Jefferson
  5. If the first detective asked me anything about it, I’d crack like an egg.


Happy birthday, America!



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.


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