Rapala produces a fishing lure that guarantees “fish on”. The lure looks like a crayfish and comes in many different colors and sizes. I am not an avid fisherman, but I do enjoy fishing. Not so much that I would go out to the lake by myself, but enough to enjoy it with a friend – a fishing buddy. Stone, my son, is that fishing buddy now. Before him, it was my brother, James. He is a fisherman. James enjoys the lake all by himself, or with a fishing buddy. If he has a pole in his hand, he is happy. He enjoys fishing to the degree that he is always looking for the next best experience – a new lure, a new spot, a new method, or a new means to get out into the water. It is this drive to fish that brings us to the tale today.
James bought a boat. Not a bass boat. Not a Ranger, a pontoon, an aluminum flat bottomed, or a canoe. He boat an inflatable “two man” boat – a glorified pool toy to be used by the neighborhood kids for when playing Marco Polo was no longer interesting. He fitted the boat out with a wooden inner floor, a trolling motor, a battery, and all the gear it could hold. We would would load the boat in its deflated state into his Hyundai Sonata and drive to the boat launch at the Nashua River. We would muscle the boat of the trunk, plug in the air pump into the cigarette lighter and wait. While we watched the boat grow and be shaped by the air, other fisherman would back their boat trailers into the water and launch their real boats, park their real trucks, and give us some real looks as the whirring of the pump brought our “boat” to life. Before long, the boat was full, the floor installed, the trolling motor mounted, and gear loaded. We were ready to launch.
As we fished and continually pulled out fish on this day, we soon noticed the boat was not as firm as it was at the launch – a leak had obviously formed. Understanding the severity of the situation, my brother did what any fisherman would do; he fished. The boat began to make a taco of my brother and me, and it was time to attempt to make it to the boat launch up river. We made every effort to go against the current in a boat with a new and improved drag ratio, so the situation went from bad to worse. An audible hissing could be heard accompanied with bubbles. The trolling motor fought against the current, and we fought against the scenario of sinking. As we struggled to continue on to the boat launch, we could see the boat ramp not too far off in the distance. The launch was filled with fishermen pulling their boats out of the water onto their trailers. As we sputtered into the boat launch with a piece of saran wrap filled with rocks, the looks were relentless. The judgments were harsh – laughter was had at our expense. Dragging the boat out of the water, my brother grabbed the stringer filled with fish…big fish. The laughter stopped. Confusion set in as the fishermen looked on in shock at the quality and quantity of the fish. What we accomplished with a Building 19 inflatable boat, these fisherman were unable to accomplish with six figures of shiny fiberglass, and two tons of steel.
As I told Stone this story the other day as we mowed a lawn, I thought about my own boat springing a leak. I do not know if I will make it back to the boat launch, but I made out onto the water. I launched. I fished. I laughed. I lived. I’ll take it!