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Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2002
It can strike at any time.

We happened to catch the fever yesterday while pretending to work. Too many 70 degree days and not enough water beneath a now cleaned and ready boat. The fever struck, and when it did there was an almighty rush to get to the lake and treat the disease.

Sometimes when you are feverish you ought to just stay in bed.

Stu and I were cackling like any ordinary hens might while hopping in our little boat and tooling out to the distant shores. Our battery powered trolling motor hummed pleasantly, the blue sky above had nary a cloud, we had minnows and tackle and we were off to the first expedition of the year.

Other than a gusty wind all was going well. We were hitting all the spots, the casting touch came back almost immediately, and aside from not catching a darn thing we were having a ball.

2 miles away from launch point, the following discussion ensued.

Outfoxed: "Not having much luck. But lordy, what a beautiful day."
Stu: "Yeah, to think we could be working. Checked the battery lately?"
OF: "Hmmm. Shows it at a 6. That's odd."
Stu: "A six? Isn't that awfully low?"
OF: "Hey! Now it's at wait, 4.7, 4.5..."
Stu: "Oh shit."

Our normally reliable 12 volt battery was now good for powering transitor radios, which is fine if you're not 2 miles from the car, and have a motor which was now useful only as an attractive hood ornament.

Stu made one more cast and promptly snagged on something, probably an underwater log. His reaction was typical of 99% of all fishermen. He pulled back hard on the rod.

It might be better to say that he now has a legitimate excuse to go shopping for fishing rods.

Fortunately, we had an oar in the boat and Stu was up to the challenge. He rowed with gusto for about half a mile and then stopped, breathing somewhat irratically, I thought. I passed him a beer from the cooler.

Stu: "You know what? This really stinks."
OF: "Wanna know what really stinks? That was the last beer."
Stu: "Oh shit."

I gamely sat in the rear with the dying motor and steered as he started in afresh. If the wind hadn't been blowing right in our faces I'm sure we would've made somewhat better headway. So I was not terribly surprised when he suddenly made a beeline for shore and hopped out. Another rest period, I presumed.

OF: "Whatcha doin?"
Stu: "Makin' an oar so that you can do your half of the labor, sport."

It wasn't an oar he had in mind, exactly. He pulled out his trusty serrated pocket knife and attacked a young sapling tree, felling it and stripping off leaves and branches. What he eventually handed me was an eight foot pole.

If this had been Venice, I would have hankered for a straw hat and a string quartet to accompany me as I poled my gondola down river, singing "Oh Solo Mio", or perhaps something else of the baritone operatic flavor.

I actually did try singing a bit but was too busy poling our barge into a headwind to keep it up for long.

The only other mistake we made was when Stu called his wife on the cell phone to report our situation. I don't know what posessed him, perhaps a need to hear a little compassion and concern. Which he might have gotten if she hadn't been laughing so hard.

At long last we pulled up to the landing area. I was never so glad that this is a private lake and there were no witnesses to our Tom Sawyer like entry. I hopped out and began removing equipment from the boat until I noticed my baitcaster rod.

OF: "Hey! My best rod! It's broke!"
Stu: "Yeah, I meant to mention that. It kinda got tangled up in my oar about a mile back and...
OF: "My baitcaster! Aauuggghhhhhhh!"

Suffice to say that sometimes the luck in fishing has nothing to do with the fish.

But I'm sure the makers of fishing rods the world over are pining for new business tomorrow.

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