Friday, September 12, 2014

Fishing with Craig

My neighbor Craig is eccentric. I am capable of understatement.

Craig wanted to go fishing with me for a long time. For years he said that we need to wait for the right morning where the weather is just right and he'll show me how to catch the biggest Bass I've ever seen. The weather has to be just right. He'll call me at 4 and we'll go.

I couldn't do it. Unlike Craig, I have responsibilities at my work and it would be unprofessional of me to just not show up one day because the weather is just right. So I declined. And I declined for a few years.

This year he wanted to go again. I said I'd do it on a Saturday. We picked a Saturday and he said to be at his house at 4 am and to bring minnows.

I was at his house at 4 am. Craig was raring to go. Craig made the arrangements at a boat rental business on an unnamed lake in Minnesota that may or may not contain the name of our national bird. All Craig had to do is get all of his stuff and test one of his small outboard motors.

"Why do you need an outboard motor? Won't the boat have one?"

"Yeah, but I'm not swimming if it doesn't work."

"Aren't you a mechanic?"

"I'm the best damned mechanic that ever was. There isn't anything that I can't fix."

"I have my phone and I'll swim if necessary."

"I still want to bring it."

I'm already regretting this trip idea. We loaded his gear and his 1940s vintage Montgomery Ward Sea King outboard motor.

My gear was already packed and ready to go.

We drove to the boat rental. If we hit it just right we'd be on the water at sunrise. The weather was great for fishing. Our plan was to work the shoreline until we made it to the crappy holes and then fish for crappies and maybe walleye.

We arrived at the rental about an hour before they opened. True to Craig's word a boat was waiting for us on the end of the dock. It was a small aluminum fishing boat with a 4 hp outboard motor and a little bit of water splashing on the floor. There were three bench seats in the boat.

We, and by we I mean I, carried our gear from my car on the road along a long dock to the boat. I especially did not care for his outboard motor at this point. I unloaded my stuff behind the bow seat and put Craig's gear near the stern. The extra outboard went in the middle with the can of 2 cycle mix for it.

Craig smoked a cigarette while I carried all the gear.

We launched and made way towards the shore.

Craig began casting a wooden popper lure not unlike the ones that were in my grandfather's old tackle box. We motored along the shore at a pace that was probably a little faster than one would want to troll.

I tried Texas rigging a hook and working the thick weeds. Neither one of us scored so much as a bite.

We continued and did not catch a fish. Craig did hook the mast of a docked sailboat so bad that I had to climb on it and unhook his line.

We motored on. Time for crappies. We made it to a spot that Craig remembered had crappies. I changed the lure on my line with a slip bobber.

Craig pointed his rod at me and told me to put a minnow on his hook. I did. He put a gigantic red and white bobber on it and cast it into the water. Craig took out another rod and pointed at me and told me to put a nightcrawler on it. I did. He put an even bigger bobber on it and cast it into the water.

"Craig, we're only allowed to have one line each in the water."

"You're being paranoid. I know what I'm doing."

"The DNR doesn't mess around. I don't want to lose all of my gear."

"You're being paranoid."

I put my single line in the water and waited.

Craig never stopped talking. He continuously griped about the bite and the other boaters or whatever. Not satisfied with 2 lines in the water he put a giant daredevil spinner on a third line and began casting it. I wanted this trip to be over.

No bites yet. Craig focused his attention to his Sea-King outboard. He wanted to mount it to the side of the aluminum boat.

"Craig, I don't think it's strong enough. Why are you doing this."

"I know what I'm doing. I want to see if it's running."

We put the motor on the gunwale the boat. Unlike the transom, the side of the boat isn't truly vertical and has no extra reinforcement. I could see the side of the boat flexing as the boat rocked with the waves.

Craig added some 2 cycle mix to the tank. He primed the motor and then wound up the pull starter with a rope. He pulled. Nothing. Pulled. Sputter. Pulled. Nothing. Pulled. Swore. Nothing.

Back to fishing. Craig tilted the motor up. I noticed that the fuel was leaking out of the tank into the boat. My foam bait bucket was going to dissolve in the gasoline mixture.

"Hey Craig, the fuel is leaking."

"Don't worry, I know what I'm doing."

"Let's take this thing down. The boat's not going to hold it."

"It'll hold it."

A boat sped by and produced a big wake. The motor rocked back to the water. The aluminum in the gunwale flexed more. If there were a crack it would have split.

"Let's get this thing off the boat!"

"Would you stop complaining. I know what I'm doing."

We drifted into a big patch of weeds. Craig struggled to get us back into the crappie hole. He cursed and we made it.

Craig went back to the Sea King. With a cigarette dangling from his mouth he went back to priming the motor and pulling the cord. Nothing. I really don't want to be there anymore.

Other fishermen are looking at us. It's obvious for anyone to see that we have too many lines in the water. I'm done. I bring my line back in. I drink a beer and hope that we'll be done.

Craig catches some small sun fish. He wants to keep them. He puts them in a bucket. They're too small to keep. I go back to fishing. I caught a few small perch and sun fish. Nothing worth cleaning.

Craig is ready to try one more spot. I dump his catch out before they suffocate.

We arrived at a spot just next to a public fishing dock. I cast some more and don't catch anything. Craig goes back to the Sea King. It doesn't start.

He gives up.

"You didn't see this. You'll thank me." He tells me as he turns the motor upside down and dumps the 2 cycle mix into the lake. "WTF!"

"You didn't see this either. You'll thank me." He dumped the remainder of the mix from the can into the lake.

I hate Craig at this moment. I hate that he's being so selfish and thoughtless towards the lake. He's ruining this natural resource only because he wanted to see if his motor ran and he didn't want to deal with the fuel when we got back. I hate myself for being a party to this.

We made our way back to the boat rental. We never did catch much.

A couple of kids carried our gear to the car. Craig barked orders to them. He tipped each of them a couple of bucks.

We went inside and Craig paid for the boat. I fired up my car and sat in the air. Craig wanted to have a smoke before we left.

We drove back and I swore to myself that I'd never go fishing with Craig again.

Craig wants to know when I can make it again.