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Sunday, May. 26, 2002
We've all seen the story of Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, haven't we?

Okay maybe not recently. But just yesterday the wind turned gusty and it reminded me for all the world of a large stuffed bear in search of honey, tumbling hither and yon in a confused way, buffered by his friends and ultimately reaching safe harbor.

Trouble is that Winnie never had to go fishing with Stu. After he had been up all night in a productive search for the perfect steamed crab to compliment the lobster he'd put away for dinner. He showed up at the house at 6 am, reeking of crabs and the non-combustible lubricants used to ease them into a prodigious and very Winnie like intestinal mass.

He looked a great deal more like Eeyore than Pooh Bear, of course.

But at any rate, he was flushed with the success of having solved our mysterious boating ailment. Which we had uncovered Friday afternoon on a shakedown cruise over the lake. You see, we use a relatively small 10-foot boat that is pre-wired for lights, a livewell and most importantly, a trolling motor. Just add battery and off you go. Or that's the theory. Somehow with the effects of rain and a leaking boat cover a short had developed in the pre-wire. The trolling motor failed to, well, troll and we were reduced to paddling around the dock as Stu cursed and rattled various cables and switches to no avail in the back of the boat.

It might be pertinent to the story to note that the boat is rated for 375 pounds, has a Coast Gurad tag which says so quite plainly right on the transom. Which we frequently laugh at, seeing as how 375 pounds might cover the two of us and one cooler.

We usually take two.

And a 50-pound battery and another 100 pounds of gear, motors, summer sausage and sliced cheese, etc.

Stu had elected to solve the problem of no power by simply throwing more technology at it. Which translated in his case to two batteries and some inventive, if dubious hot wiring techniques.

"Look", he enthused at the dock. "We hook 'em up in series and there's no way we'll run out of power. I tell ye, you won't have to paddle a lick today my man."

Which was all well and good until we actually pushed off and I noted that the gunwales were about 2 inches out of the water on the battery-laden right side of the boat and I was having to do some serious leaning to the left to even give a semblance of level to the little craft.

Thus encumbered, we putted out to the first hole (and let me tell you, any benefits of having 2 batteries instead of one were negated by the additional 50 pounds and the fact that neither of them had a full charge, thanks to my all night crab seeking guru). I'm sure that glaciers advance at a rate relative to our overall speed. Unless they have a headwind of 20 knots, which we most assuredly did.

I had the paddle out after 5 minutes of that.

Funny thing about small boats with limited power and two budding sumo wrestlers in padded seats. They tend to have a pretty fair sail area. At one point the wind simply twirled us in place, cutting perfect 360 spins, which I (the point man who was fishing) cursed and wailed about and Stu (the skipper in charge of such things) chalked up to inventive fish placement by a seasoned and able seaman.

We caught a few small ones on our way out to the Corral, so named for its' surrounding woods and the fact that it is a fishing hole which seemingly corrals fish and holds them until we arrive. I was making a few experimental casts parallel with the bank (and attempting to keep my hat from blowing into the next state) when WHAM!! A great hit on the line and I dipped, counted to 3 and set the hook with a big time sweep.

Stu stopped puffing on his stogie long enough to inquire about whether or not I had yet again managed to snag my hook on a submerged branch.

I gritted my teeth and simply said, "Get the net, Hiawatha."

About that time my largemouth 5-pounder broke water in a moment made for TV. He made a half-hearted attempt to make a run for the nearby cove but I got him close enough for Stu to dip the net under him and pull him up. I was heeing and hooing mightily.

"Nice catch there, Gilligan. You owe me one for that. Something cold, I should think."

I was happy to oblige.

The gusts blew and I could have sworn I saw actual whitecaps on the lake. At one point, I was driven to lasso a convenient tree near the shoreline so that we could sit and fish for a while as opposed to playing out Horatio Hornblower maneuvers. 10 feet worth of boat makes for something about as trustworthy as a paper plate in a wind like that.

We eventually elected to let the wind blow us back to the starting point. I was noodling with the baitcaster when I felt another unusual tug on the line and let it rest for a second. BOOM! Fish on and moving, this time actually putting stress on a rod designed to withstand any onslaught.

"Something to this one! Get the net, the net blast ye! Look, she breaches!"

As Ahab struggled with the load, Stu frantically dug through debris in search of the net, which is nearly as large as the boat itself. Never let it be said that we lack in tools where greater talent might be employed. Tackle boxes, empty beverage cans and life vests filled the air for a moment before he held the net aloft and moved in for the catch.

"Stu, for God's sake don't miss him. Look! Look at the tail on that beast!"

It was, indeed, a beast. Biggest bass I'd caught in years, 8 pounds and very long. I let him lay there on the livewell cover for a minute just to take in the beauty of a largemouth bass with some size to it, a part of creation to be admired and hefted in the air and chuckled over.

And yes, eaten. Kiss my bass catchin' ass, PETA.

Why, I even took the pair of them to the Watering Hole. I figured that buying them a beer was the least I could do. Heaven knows when I'll see their like again.

Hey Roadiepig, whaddya think. Heh.

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