Eye on the Ball; A fishing tale to forget | SierraSun.com
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Eye on the Ball; A fishing tale to forget

Jamie Ball

You ever get so angry you want to kick something? Well, let me take you back to last week…

Ah, glorious spring.

Coming off the recent warm days, I took the notion to do a little fishing. Joined by Sierra Sun news editor John Bayless, a fellow Southerner (although he’s from Texas, and Southerners and Texans have never quite gotten around to fully claiming each other) we went out to Donner Lake for the first trip of the season.

After shelling out way too much money for a fishing license, (back in Georgia, where bass fishing is prime, licenses were $8, and John tells me they were $12 in Texas) we surveyed the ominous skies and headed out.

You see, the mind does funny things. Despite your knowledge that things are never as they seem, my head was clouded with visions of a perfect day, where I would cast 200 yards into the lake, the trout fighting each other to get to the shiny little jewel of a lure on the end of my six-pound test line. The metal on the lure would reflect the sun’s light, mesmerizing the fish into biting down.

Forget Ishmael, call me Svengali.

Sigh.

Perhaps the first indication things weren’t quite right were the heavy gusts of wind blowing us sideways as we walked toward the pier.

Then, the rain came. Not heavily at first, but as light drops blown in the wind. Undaunted, we made our first casts, just happy to be there.

OK, so there was no bite immediately. Maybe the fish were slowing each other down, racing shoulder to shoulder to get to the booty. (Hey- the fish near some Nevada testing grounds could have shoulders, all right?) Maybe they, like their human predecessors when it had been called Truckee Lake, had turned to cannibalism, crazed by the fuschia-colored bait cleverly wrapped around the barbs of my treble hook.

So I decided to let them fight it out with another cast. I reeled it back in, doing recon on the damage.

Meanwhile, John had hooked something. Three minutes braving the wind and rain and he had hooked something. It was a rock.

I looked up to the skies. The wind was kicking up, and the light rain was now a combination of snowy chunks and large drops of water.

Donner Lake looked like the sea that day, my friends.

Or, as George Costanza said in the single greatest episode of Seinfeld ever made, “The sea was angry that day. Like an old man trying to send soup back in a deli.”

Anyway, it looked like the sea. There were large waves out there and I started to notice little bits of ice falling on me. Hail. I mumbled a phrase that sounded a lot like “hail and duck and itch.”

John had mysteriously made his way off the pier onto the beach, having hooked something mighty on the end of his line.

He yelled something hopeful to me as I watched curiously. He tugged, fought and thrashed with his reel, and I watched as the rod bowed, stretching the envelope of physics.

Finally, the prize surfaced and John pulled it close to his hand. On the end of his line was a large…long…brown…stick.

“Stickfish,” he called it.

Determined, I cast again, watching the monofilament slide off the rod in slow motion. It was a symphony of movement, it was a ballet, it was sheer poetry and it was, unfortunately, tangled.

I learned another fishing term that day: “bird’s nest.”

My line was so tangled, I didn’t know where to begin, so I did things the American way: I grabbed at the base of the string and bit into it until it tore and I was able to free the line and start over again.

Sure, it was a shortcut, but life itself is not only short, but it’s basically a shortcut to oblivion and six-pound test line only runs about a buck per hundred yards. Maybe that falls under the mentality of kicking the Coke machine or pounding on the computer printer when they don’t work, but there’s something to be said for that. Sometimes it just feels good to kick inanimate objects.

The rain fell harder and was quickly turning to snow. There would be no fish today.

I realized the Titanic had a better day on the water than John and I.

Drenched and hypothermic, I walked into the office to find that my computer had crashed. I sat down, and en hommage to Hannibal Lecter in Thomas Harris’ brilliant novel, Silence of the Lambs, a man who viciously attacked his victims without his blood pressure raising a single point, I kicked my desk.

It felt good.

Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.com

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