Trapped in a Row Boat
Hello. Is this Jennifer? Jennifer Luikus
“Speaking. Who’s this?”
“This is Mike Johnson. I met you the other night at the Blue Moon. We danced and had a few laughs. You gave me your number and told me to call you sometime. I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
“Oh, right. How ya’ doin’ Mike?”
“Not too bad. You said you’d never been fishing on a lake so I’m calling to see if you want to go with me tomorrow morning.”
Gee, I can hardly remember what this guy looks like. Was he the one who worked at Plum Creek? He sounds nice enough. I might as well.
“Yeah. I’ll pick you up a little before seven a.m. if you want to go. We’ll make a day of it.”
“Well, OK. What should I bring?”
“If you could bring the food and some ice, that would be great. I’ll pick up some beer and I have all the fishing stuff in my boat. Just pack whatever hear you want to bring and we’ll be all set.”
“OK Mike. That sounds great,” Jennifer said. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
“See you then,” Mike said as he hung up the phone.
Wow, Jennifer thought, as she looked in her refrigerator. Fishing. I’ve lived in the Flathead for my whole life and I’m finally going fishing for the first time. Looks like I’ll have to go to the store for some fishing trip munchies. That’ll be the easiet. Gear. I wonder what he meant by gear?
At 6:45 the next morning Jennifer took a quick inventory of the items she had assembled for the fishing excursion. She had a beach towel, sunglasses on a bungie around her neck, suntan oil and a hat. She was wearing her sexy black two piece swim suit under a pair of shorts and a tee shirt. Her big teal colored cooler with a pull-handle and wheels was stocked with a six pack of Miller Lite cans, several bottles of Talking Rain spring water, fried chicken, and potato salad. In a straw bag on top she had potato chips, several different kinds of candy bars, a package of red licorice and a can of bug spray. Satisfied she made a quick trip to the bathroom.
Mike arrived right at seven a.m. and thy loaded her cooler into the boat. As they set off toward Whitefish Lake, Mike says “How do you like my fishing boat Jennifer?”
“I expected something a little sportier,” Jennifer says honestly.
“This type of boat is used almost exclusively for fishing,” Mike says. “It’s a Lund. That’s one of the best brands available.”
“So you can’t ski behind this boat?” Jennifer glanced over her should at the red and gray boat quietly following them behind Mike’s truck. What good is a boat if you can’t use it for water-skiing, she thinks. It looks like a glorified rowboat to me.
“Oh no.” This boat doesn’t have enough power to pull a skier.”
Whitefish Lake was calm as Mike off-loaded his boat. He handed Jennifer the line from the bow of the boat and said, “Here, hold this while I park the truck.”
The water lapping against the dock pushes the boat out further and further from her as she held the line. I don’t know how much longer I can hold this line, she thought. The boat was at the end of the thightly stretched line and Jennifer was bending over with her arm stretched out trying to hold it.
“What are you doing?” Mike asked as he trotted down the dock toward her.
“I’m trying to hold on to this boat.”
Mike took the line from her and deftly reeled the boat in towards the dock.
“Oh. I didn’t realize you could do that,” Jennifer said as Mike helped her into the boat.
“Sit up towards the front,” Mike said.
“Do I face frontward or backward?” Jennifer asked.
“Suit yourselef. I’ve got to sit back here to run the motor. So just relax and make yourself comfortable.”
Mike began to pull on the rope starter and Jennifer surveyed her seating options. She had just decided to sit right in the bow of the boat when the motor coughed and suddenly started sending the boat lurching forward and throwing her forcefully down onto the cushionless metal seat. I hope he didn’t see that, she thought as she composed herself.
“Have you fished here often?” she asked Mike over her shoulder.
“What?” Mike said.
“HAVE YOU FISHED HERE OFTEN?”, she yelled.
Mike shrugged his shoulders and shook his head from side to side. There’s no point trying to talke to him over the noise of the motor, I guess, Jennifer thought.
The cool breeze felt good and she tilted her chin up toward it with her eyes closed. I wonder if Helen of Troy felt like this, she thought. She day-dreamed and studied the beautiful homes on the shorline as they glided toward the lake’s inlet. Once or twice water splashed over the bow and into her face bringing her out of her reverie and making her smile. I could do this for a living Jennifer thought as they turned and angled toward a large isolated cove.
“We’re here,” Mike said as he stopped the motor and let the small boat drift gently forward.
“Here?” Jennifer asked.
“Yes. This is my favorite fishing spot on this lake. I always catch a few fish here.”
“Great. I’m ready to catch a lunker,” Jennifer said.
Mike laughed at that.
“You say you’ve never fished before?” Mike asked. He was pulling fishing poles, a net and miscellaneous gadgets out from the sides of the boat.
“No. This is my very first time.”
“OK. I’ll make it easy for you then.”
Mike expertly put a small hook on the end of some line on a pole. Then he threaded a big juicy worm on to the hook leaving an inch or so which continued to wriggle as Jennifer watched this process with something akin to horrified nausea. Mike stood up in the boat and pulled the rod across his body with his left arm. Then he flipped it forward causing the hooked worm and the line to sail fifty feet out onto the surface of the lake. The monfilament line began to sink and draw itself in toward the boat as Mike handed her the pole.
“OK,” Mike said. “Go get’ em tiger.”
“What do I do?” Jennifer asked.
“All you need to do is hold on to the pole and watch the tip of the rod. If you feel a tug and see the tip go down toward the water, don’t give the fish any slack and just start reeling him on in. I’ll help you when you get him up to the boat.”
“Just one question. What is slack?”
“Keep the line tight at all times,” Mike said.
That made sense to Jennifer. She stared intently at the end of her pole while she gripped it handle with both hands. Mike was putting his fly rod together at the other end of the boat. She tried to watch him out of the corner of her eye. His fishing pole looked very different from hers.
“What are you doing?” Jennifer asked. Mike was just tying a fuzzy hook on the end of the line on his pole.
“I’m going to try fly fishing. You’re bait fishing and I’m fly fishing. Sometimes fish want to eat worms and sometimes they’re more interested in flies. We’ll have a better chance if we fish two different ways.”
You’re bait fishing and I’m fly fishing Jennifer said to herself in a mocking tone. Good god I wish he’d quit talking down to me like I’m some kind of moron. I know he’s fly fishing and I obviously have bait on my hook.
“You don’t need to do that,” Mike said
“Do what?” Jennifer said jerking to attention.
“Hold your pole with two hands,” Mike said. “Just hold it with one.”
“Which one is best?” Jennifer asked.
“Whichever one FEELS best to you.”
Great. Now he’s getting testy. Here I am trapped in a row-boat with a guy who’s getting testy. Boy you really know how to oplan your days off, Jennifer, she thought. She switched the pole from her left hand to her right hand and back again. The left hand felt best.
“How’s that?” she said.
“That looks better. Now just try to relax and have fun.”
Yeah right, she thought. This is fun. Not! She looked back and forth from her rod to what Mike was doing. Her head jerked back and forth and her movement rocked the boat slightly. Mike waved his rod gracefully above his head several times and laid his line straight out on the water. She could just barely see the fly bobbing out on the water.
“Now what are you doin’?” Mike asked
“I’m watching the tip of my rod, but I want to watch you, too.”
“You’ll feel when a fish bites your bait. You can look anywhere you want in the meantime.”
“But I thought you told me to watch the tip of my pole.”
I did, but you don’t have to stare at it every second.”
Jennifer saw a muscle twitch in the side of Mike’s jaw. Yep. He’s definitedly losing his patience with me. I’m just going to sit here and mind my own business, she thought. Suddenly she felt a sharp tug on her line.
“OH!” she said.
“Did you get a strike?” Mike asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Do you think you got a strike?”
“What’s a strike?”
“Did you get a hit on your line?”
“I guess so,” Jennifer said. I feel like I’m playing baseball. Hit. Strike.
“Did…a… fish…bite…your…hook? Mike’s exasperation was totally out in the open as he continued to grill her.
“I felt something,” Jennifer said.
“Reel up and check your bait then,” Mike said.
“Yes. The fish probably took your worm. See that handle on your pole? Just turn it.” Jennifer began to do as he requested.
“Oh Jesus! Can’t you see that you’re doing it backwards? Just hand me the pole,” Mike ordered. Mike quickly reeled the line in from the water.
“Yep. You need a fresh worm,” Mike said as her hook broke the surface of the lake. “Do you want to try putting it on yourself?”
“I don’t know. I’ll try.” Jennifer tried not to sound too pitiful but the thought of threading a worm on to the hook was not something she wanted to do. She gingerly opened the lid of the styrofoam container and peeked inside.
“Those worms aren’t going to jump out and bite you. Just go ahead and take the lid off.”
“Uh. OK” Jennifer carefully took the lid off the container. She was desperately trying to be a good sport about all of this.
“Now just reach in and grab one of those puppies and just shove your hook through it a few times.” Mike said. He’s really enjoying my discomfort Jennifer thought.
“Sorry. I can’t do it this time. Would you mind? I promise I’ll put the next one on by myself.”
“OK. It’s no big deal. You just grab a worm and thread it through like this. Be sure to leave some hanging down to wriggle around underwater to attract a fish. See?”
“Oh. Thank you so much for doing that.” Jennifer was very relieved as she watched him launch her worm out into the lake. If she had a choice, she was never going to reel that line up for the rest of the day. It could sit there all day for all she cared.
Mike continued to slowly lay his line out on the lake, reel it in and lay it out again. He looked so content that Jennifer gazed at the shoreline and didn’t say anything to him for a long time. After a while she realized she had another problem. She had to go to the bathroom.
When she could stand it no more, she said, “Mike can you take me to shore?”
“I need to go to shore.”
“I have to go potty.” How humiliating, she thought. This was like raising your hand to go to the bathroom in grade school.
“What you do out here is just hang it over the edge of the boat,” Mike said.
“Huh? Hang it over the edge?”
“Just sit on the edge of the boat and pee into the water. I’ll move to the opposite side to couter-balance your weight so that we won’t capsize. Don’t worry no one will see you and I’ll keep my back turned.”
Jennifer pulled her shorts and bikini bottom down and sat on the gunnel of the boat. She clutched the edge of the boat with her hands. In this awkward position, she couldn’t relax enough to pee. Hard as she tried she just couldn’t’ pee.
“Are you finished yet?” Mike asked
She took a deep breath and tried to relax. Finally, she began to pee. To her horror it was not going into the water. Instead, it was running down the inside of the boat. She slid back a little further and was successfully peeing into the lake. I guess this is really hanging it over the edge. I wish I had a tissue, she thought.
Safely back on her seat again, Jennifer thought, this is boring. I wish I had my Wok-Man. At least I could be listening to some good music.
She picked up her pole again and resumed her fishing position. She balanced her pole on one leg with the end tucked under her knee while she fished around for her suntan oil. She oiled her legs. Then she pulled off her tee-shirt and put the lotion on her arms. There, she thought. I might as well be working on my sun tan.
Meanwhile, Mike seemed oblivious to her presence. He kept casting in and pulling his line out. In again, then out. Suddenly, he shouted.
“Got one! That was a nice hit!”
We’re back to baseball again, Jennifer thought as she smiled quickly to conceal a big yawn. She turned her head so that Mike would not see the expression on her face.
“What you got in the cooler?” Mike asked as he dropped his fish tied to a stringer over the side of the boat.
“Chips, chicken, beer…”
I’ll have a beer, Mike said interupting her list.
Handing him the beer Jennifer noticed the time on her watch. It was only 9:00 a.m.
“Ah, beer, more than just a breakfast drink,” Mike joked as he took a huge gulp and set the can down while he fiddled with his fishing pole. Then he finished the beer and smashed the empty can against his forehead.
This guy is serioiusly strange, Jennifer thought as she watched him begin to lay his line out on the water again. If I survive this ordeal, I’m never giving my number out again and I probably won’t be fishing again any time soon either.