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Thursday, Oct. 25, 2001
We all need a few more activities that dial into and refresh our souls. Which is probably why I go fishing at any given chance.

Corporate partner and leisure time pal Stu has been hinting all week that we need to hop in the boat for a three hour tour, albeit sans Ginger or Mary Ann. Playing hooky from work suits the both of us to no end. Although can it really be called hooky if the whole company (all two of us) takes its' leisure at the same time?

We had both determined at the start of this year that we really needed to do something about the alarming lack of time spent contemplating a fishing pole, particularly one that was attached to a lake dwelling fish. We live in one of the biggest saltwater fishing hotspots anywhere and occasionally take the big charter or 'head' boats out for the day and fill a big cooler with spot or croaker, or go whole hog after a tuna.

But in my world, fishing means freshwater. A boat small enough to carry around with you in the truck. Where the main motor is not gas powered, but electric, a virtually silent trolling motor. Where the accutraments are rarely more complicated than a tackle box and poles, a cooler and some kind of bait.

Yesterday was possibly the last of an unusually warm spell of weather around here. It's odd to have an October day where the leaves are dropping off the trees and into the lake while at the same time you are shirtless in 86 degree weather, with your feet up on the side of a small boat, pole in hand and nothing to do but await the tug of line indicating that yes, tonight we eat seafood. Or lakefood, as the case may be.

I'm not sure what the karma description would be for fishing, what state of mind. But I've never met anyone who doesn't get into it when out on the water for a day. Everything just slows down, gets a whole lot quieter. I've been fishing my whole life and can never once remember anyone getting into an argument, or hearing angry voices, or hurtful remarks while trying their luck with hook and worm. The worst I've ever seen is a snapped line, followed by a lusty epitath, and a chuckle. Because really, just how pissed off can you get when you're attempting to lure a fish into your grasp?

Maybe what best describes it for me is that I don't have to play adult anymore. I cast, I retrieve, catch a fish and put him in the bucket. Same thing as when I was a kid. I enjoy the company of the people I go with, or I go alone. I catch a big bass, or I don't. The weather is lovely, or it rains. All the same. It is simple, the same simple way of doing things that my grandfather had when he first introduced me to the water, and for the same reasons. I fish to have something good to eat, to let my eyes behold something other than an office wall or a computer screen, to be a kid and not have to apologize for it.

There it is, I found the summary of why I fish. Let me repeat, I can be a kid and not have to apologize for it. And it's why you go fishing too, if you have the chance to. Why else would you dig into a dirt filled coffee can in search of the perfect worm, or find little minnows fascinating, or be awestruck at a 9 pound bass jumping out of the water 25 feet away? Or not even consider complaining at the price of a new topwater lure at (drool) the tackle store? Or why you dig out a fishing magazine in the middle of January just to look at the pictures of sunny days and ballcaps and lilly pads on the water?

I don't know, the fish probably don't agree but I think it's a pretty cool arraingment.

Yesterday Stu ran out of minnows while casting for the only fish which seemed to be biting on this hot mid-afternoon, the feisty and tasty white perch. Typically, he was not to be denied by something as simple as running out of bait. I caught a glimpse of him rooting around in his tackle box while I flipped a spinner bait toward a log, in my search for a fat bass.

"What, you're out of minnows? You can forget artificial bait in this lake, the perch just won't go for it."

"You just keep tossing that spinner, young'un. Uncle Stu's got the perch thing well in hand."

It's a good thing I wear sunglasses. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched him take an artificial worm from a gaudily packaged bag ('Loaded with scent! Fish can't resist 'em!) and cut a little chunk off. Stuck it on his hook and cast it in. The bobber drifted briefly, then was still.

"You're trying to take a perch with cut up Fluke worms? Hee hee hee! Man, I told you to buy more minnows back at the store. You'll never......."

I never got a chance to finish as Stu suddenly braced, dug in and snapped the pole back. Seconds later, a plump and silvery perch made itself comfortable in the take- home bucket. In the space of 5 minutes, two more joined him.

I rationalized, as I cut up a few Fluke worms and re-rigged my pole for a bobber, that I am not one to argue with a fish.

That's territory I reserve for my wife, when I ask her to break out the frying pan, because it's Perch Night at House of Outfoxed yet again.

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