Although the fishing season is winding down, it’s not over yet. I still need to put a few more fish in the boat and maybe a couple of trout in the creel before I close the book on this fishing season. I do feel the fall hunting seasons creeping in, and even though I’m shooting more arrows every day, I still think more about fishing.
A lot of times fishing is all about the one that got away or the missed opportunities that leave the woulda, coulda, shoulda taste in your mouth. It happened to me along with my brother Whammer and his son Riggin. It actually happened twice, two years apart, but all of us were left with a coulda, shoulda, woulda story — just slightly different versions of it.
The first time it happened, Riggin and I were fishing in the front of the boat and Whammer was in the back, batting cleanup. I hooked into what I thought was a decent fish and because Riggin was closer, he grabbed the dipnet.
All was well until I pulled a 45-inch musky alongside the boat and Riggin turned into a deer-in-the-headlights. He froze and the big fish thrashed one too many times and eventually threw the hooks free. Riggin never moved, frozen by the likes of a fish that he had never seen before. If that could be played out again, I would say that Whammer shoulda grabbed the dipnet, Riggin coulda just got out of the way, and I woulda had my picture taken with a big musky. That’s not how fishing works and you don’t get second chances, or do you?
A couple of weeks ago the three of us were out fishing again and it was deja vu. The only difference this time was that Whammer was in the front of the boat by me and Riggin was in the back. We talked about Riggin having the biggest demon to exercise because of his previous freeze-up on that big musky, and we all laughed light heartedly at the memory. Then it happened, all over again.
A fish hit my lure and the fight was on. I was concentrating on the business in front of me but gathered from the commotion behind me that Whammer almost fell out of the boat and Riggin suddenly had the dip net. Apparently Riggin wanted to make up for his past transgression, trying to right the wrong that he did. After I set the hook and announced that I had a fish on, he pretty much pushed his dad out of the way to get to the dipnet. From there he scooped up the fish and that was that.
Once again, we all ended up with a story. Whammer shoulda just stayed out of the way. Riggin coulda redeemed himself if I woulda hooked into a musky instead of a big northern pike.
The curse lives on.