Terri Kaiser

My Dad and one of his buddies went fishing one day. His friend, Chad was quite a bit younger and we knew without a doubt he’d watch out for Dad. The name of the lake involved has been forgotten, but Chad helped Dad into the boat, and they puttered out. The best thing was, they had the lake all to themselves, two buddies sharing the bounty of an afternoon in the out of doors. They cast a few times and, wouldn’t you know, Dad cast his pole right on into the drink.

Well, he wasn’t too happy about that and lamented that it was his best pole, his special pole, the one on which he had the best of fishing memories. Being the loyal friend that Chad was, he volunteered to go in after the pole. What a great guy!

“You don’t have swim trunks,” Dad remarked. “Not to worry,” his dutiful friend replied, and proceeded to strip down to nothing—nothing at all. Considering they were all alone out there in the pristine Wisconsin wilderness, who’d have been the wiser? Off the side Chad pitched his naked self and dove down into the murky depths. After a few dives, he came up with the highly prized pole, a Zebco 33 Combo for which Dad had paid less than twenty dollars.

“This is what I risked life, limb, and reputation for?” Chad asked in complete disbelief as he looked up from the frigid water with nary a piece of clothing to warm his bones.

“Yep”, Dad said, gazing lovingly at the prize. “My lucky pole.”

Just then, a boat full of fishermen quietly drifted out from behind an island.

The reality of the situation suddenly sunk in. How was Chad to get back in the boat and keep his, um, modesty intact? The other boat of men had to know, or at least wonder, what was going on with the two yahoos across the lake, one of which was naked in the water.

Somehow, these two intrepid fishermen got the boat nearer to where Chad could touch bottom, get the boat ashore, slip into the woods and dress among the trees for cover.

We all love this story, although no one could tell it like Dad or Chad.

At our family campouts sister Betti took Dad fishing on a few occasions. On one in particular, they motored out onto the Chippewa Flowage and found their lucky spot, except that it wasn’t so lucky. Finally, as a last-ditch effort, Dad pulled out an antique bait he’d been saving. “Nothing else is working. I might as well try this.” He tied on the bait and gracefully cast it out creating a perfect arc against the summer sky. The line suddenly fell to the glassy surface of the water while the bait sailed away in unfettered freedom. “Guess that won’t work either,” Dad said as he watched its graceful swan-dive into the flowage and the subsequent sinking. Later on, after Betti had snagged every tree and bush on shore, she dumped the minnows over into the bottom of the boat and the two of them scrambled to capture the slimy little buggers. “We’re a lot alike,” Dad told her, she had to agree.

When we were little, I remember one evening Dad took my sisters and I fishing. The youngest of us wasn’t born yet, so luckily, he only had four. He didn’t have enough poles so the younger two got homemade poles from sticks and string. Picture this, four little girls casting, lines flying in every direction, Dad sprinting from girl to girl trying to untangle lines, hooks, and replace worms. The youngest is crying because she wants to go home, and one (Betti again) tripped on the boots she wore (after being told to leave them at home) and falls in, sputtering and wailing at the top of her lungs while Dad waded in to fish her out. She was the only thing he caught that day, other than a headache.

Suffice it to say, I don’t remember another family fishing trip, ever.

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