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Working Without A Net

August 31, 2012

The rain finally let up. At last, we could take the boat out and try our luck. After driving eight hours straight north, the last thing we wanted to do was stay in our cabin all day. We were itching to go fishing. That’s why we came here.

At the dock, we went through our usual routine as we loaded the boat. We fell into a comfortable rhythm. Jim made sure all the mechanical stuff was in working order; he had extra batteries for the trolling motor and the fish locator; made sure the gas tank was full and the main battery charged. He checked the anchor rope, made sure it was secured.

I saw to the snacks and beverages, the raingear, life jackets, tackle boxes and fishing rods. Stuff like that. The necessities. I stashed the camera in the bin below the dash, and stowed the landing net in the stern. We climbed aboard the runabout and prepared to cast off.. Jim always sat in the bow and manned the trolling motor and I ran the big one, getting us from one fishing spot to another, as I watched him for directions: gestures to the left or right, slow or fast. I counted on him. I had to…I couldn’t see through him.

We traveled down the river to the second lake in the chain, through the shallows and into its open bay.

I cut the engine as Jim positioned the Minnkota. It was always a race to see who could get a line in the water first. Not that we’re competitive. At least Jim says he’s not…but I know that’s not true. I’ve seen him in action. I don’t bother denying it. It’s my nature., plain and simple.

Competitive or not, it’s pretty hard to catch fish if you don’t have a line in the water. So I chose to be quick about it. Quicker than him, I hoped.

So I set up my line before we left the dock…so all I had to do was put a minnow on and drop it into the water. Today, I chose a number four plain hook to start with. But I got the fancy ones…the red fluorescents. They’re supposed to attract fish better and trigger strikes. I was closer to the minnow bucket than he was. Was that an advantage? Maybe so.

And I beat him. My line was down first. But as it turned out, it didn’t matter. Jim had the first bite.

And it was a dandy! His pole bent nearly double as the fish made a run for it, beneath the boat. Jim stood, raising his pole as the brute fought from the depths. ‘He hit like a Walleye!’ Jim exclaimed.

The battle raged on. Jim alternately reeled and raised his rod, holding it steady. His drag slipped as the fish ran again and again. Finally, we got a glimpse of the beast…a huge walleye. Bigger than we’d ever pulled out of this spot.

Jim finally tired him out and had him up next to the boat…now we just had to get him in.

I reached back for the net…and it wasn’t there! I know I put it in the boat back at camp. I always tuck it in between the tackle box and the sidewall. What happened? Did the wind catch it and flip it out the back? Probably, but I couldn’t worry about that now…I had a job to do.

With arms straining, Jim hissed, ‘Do. Not. Lose. This. Fish.’

‘I’m trying! Where’s the net?’


‘What am I supposed to do…I can’t find the *&%^# net!’

Now, the fact that this was the first day of our seven day vacation up here in northwestern Ontario was not lost on me. The first of seven days in very close quarters. A small two room cabin would be our home for the next week. Just him and me. No TV. No phone. No dogs; nothing to distract us. Time for us to bond. To reconnect. And I knew that if I screwed this up, it would not be good.

But, wait a minute…how could he expect me to land this whopper without a net? I am not putting my fingers in that mouth! Those teeth look sharp!

Think, Karen, think! And quickly!

Hurry UP! Do. Not. Lose. This. Fish!’ Jim said.

Frantically, I search for a suitable substitute…and I find nothing. So, I whip open my tackle box…with the hope that it contains some inspiration. And, viola! Needle nose pliers! I could work with those; or at least I hoped I could. They would have to do.

But should I grab him by the upper or the lower jaw? I decide on the upper…it looked more sturdy…stronger. Now…how to lift him out of the water? If I did it wrong, I’d not only lose the fish, but I’d probably injure him to boot.

I had be quick about this…before he decided to make another run for it. If the walleye saw the pliers, he’d panic and fight, so I had to move in and grab him before he knew what was happening. I picked the spot I thought was best, swept my hand down, grabbed him by the corner of the upper jaw and made a quick flip into the boat.

Success! I did it. He was in the boat…a twenty-seven inch walleye. And what a story to tell!

Jim posed proudly with his trophy…standing in the bow with a gorgeous rainbow painting the sky behind him. I snapped several pictures. And, as if I’d planned the photo that way, the rainbow looked like it was coming right out of the walleye’s mouth and arcing over Jim‘s body, framing both him and his trophy.

Only six more days to go without a net.

  1. You are SUCH a good wife. I would have told Scott where he could put that fish if he would have placed the burden of getting it into the boat on me. But then, I would never BE in the boat to begin with!!!

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