Sunday, August 11, 2013

Drinking and Fishing, Part II

I know it's been awhile since I wrote the first part of what was supposed to be a two part story about an interesting night of debauchery followed by a day of innocent fun fishing with my granddaughter. So much time has passed, in fact, that it no longer seems interesting enough. However, I feel badly that I've left it hanging, so I'm going to give it a go.

So, even though I got to bed around 3 A.M., I was determined to get up and take my littlest granddaughter fishing, as I had promised. And that's just what I did. I was rather badly hung-over, and nothing would have felt nicer than to just sleep in on a Saturday, but I bravely got up early. I wanted to go as early as possible because the weather report had predicted that we were going to have our first really hot day of summer that day, with temperatures in the triple digits. Hangover or no, I had no desire to be outside later in the day.

Beats the hell out of Bermuda off-season.

The lake where Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs takes place is called Horseshoe Lake in what's known as Upper Wagergood Park (that's not its real name, of course, but this is supposed to be an anonymous blog, and I don't want to say the real name of College Town's founder whom the park is named after) . It was originally built as a reservoir, and is now used exclusively for fishing. It's not a pretty body of water, by any stretch of the imagination. The water level was fairly low, so there was a ring of barren earth around the mud-colored water.

We had to park a mile or so away and then catch a shuttle bus to the lake. Many families were bringing their own fishing supplies, but we had none. The sponsors of the event said all that would be provided, and they were true to their word.

At the entrance to the lake (if a lake could be said to have an entrance), booths and displays with tanks of fish from the lake were set up. GR2 got to make a bracelet with orange plastic beads which were supposed to represent salmon eggs, which came out of a zippered bag shaped like a salmon.

We then procured a fishing pole and a paper cup of worms and set out to find a spot on the lake. There were already many, many people there. It was hard to find a place where I didn't have to worry about interfering with other anglers' lines. We kept working our way round the lake, casting in different places. GR2 refused to touch the live worms, so I hooked them, which isn't a lot of fun when you're hung-over.

I hadn't fished since I was about 10, and it took me a little while to reacquire the knack. Once I had it figured, I showed GR2, and she showed great skill at it.

Natural-born fisherwoman.


I noticed that several of the Hmong families, who had plenty of their own gear and really looked like they knew what they were doing, seemed to be focusing their efforts on those islands of reeds visible in the picture above. I cast close to the reeds, but the line got snagged on something and I ended up breaking it. We worked our way further around the lake until we got to one of the stations where friendly volunteers fixed your line problems. We halted one of the roving Boy Scout groups who had beverages and chips in a wagon. I bought GR2 a lovely orange meal (to go with her salmon egg bracelet) of Cheetos and an orange soda, and just a water for me. That was all my poor stomach could handle.

We had gotten a break with the weather. An unexpected thin cloud cover was keeping the worst of the sun off of us. We had no luck catching a fish, although I think we came close at one point. Our worm came out of the water half-eaten. I didn't know worms had intestine-like things, but this one did, which was also fun to contemplate in my condition.

Thankfully, the thoughtful organizers of this event had provided tanks with fish already hooked on the ends of lines, so all the littlest anglers had to do was walk up, grab a pole and pull the fish out. This is what GR2 and I ended up doing, and we got a lovely female catfish:

She put up a hell of fight. Not really.

Then it was time to get in line and have our fish cleaned (or whatever you call it). They had an efficient sort of production line set up where one jolly volunteer bonked the fish over the head with a club then passed it down the line where it was beheaded, betailed, befinned, bescaled, gutted and washed, then put in a bag with some ice for the trip home, all thankfully behind Plexiglas windows so spectators didn't get splattered with viscera.

Post-clubbing, pre-desecration.
I don't know if any one else experiences this, but when I'm hung-over, it seems like everything has a tinge of the sinister, with a little foreboding thrown in for good measure. Watching that pretty fish butchered in such a perfunctory manner was almost enough to turn me vegan. Almost, but not enough. I got over it.

There was one little fellow, about four years old, who did not enjoy this grisly spectacle at all. He was balling his eyeballs out as his father carried him away from the scene of the carnage. I remember thinking, "Well, there's one kid who will probably be hooked on drugs, not on fishing."

We got to ride a fun but slow trailer thing with seats facing sideways behind a tractor back to our car. The ice was melting quickly, and I was worried what effect the heat was going to have on our raw fish. I was regretting not having thought of some sort of cooler to keep the fish fresh on the ride home.

I grudgingly let GR2 play for a few minutes on the playground by where we had parked, then we hustled our former fishy home. The ice was long gone by then, so I rushed him into the fridge. The next day Lil RC fried the fish in a corn meal batter, and GR2 gobbled it up. I got a couple of bites, and it was quite good.

So, all in all, it was a pretty good weekend. Sunday I spent still recovering from my excesses of Friday. Guess I'm getting a little too old for such fun.

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