The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


August 17, 2013

A Don McCormack column: Real sucker when it comes to fishing

Paying a rare visit to the fishing variety store...

Hook, line and...

With Mother Nature apparently already turning us all toward fall, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit some fishing items before The Summer of 2013 has the curtain come down on it.

When it comes to using the rod and reel, there is plenty of reasons to *ahem* cast more than a few doubts about my abilities.

With that having been put there on the table, it should come to the surprise of absolutely none of you, Loyal Readers, that the few times I’ve been lured or baited into putting a rod and reel in my hands have turned into real sinkers.

For those who might believe this is not a real fish story, I offer the following exhibits of evidence...

Down south jukin’

Many moons ago, when I was 9 or 10, I think, my parents herded the four kids into our very cool school bus camper and headed south, way south, in fact, all the way to Key West, Fla.

While that journey to one of the world’s most beautiful locations was something none of us kids will ever forget, when we rented a boat and headed out onto the water it turned out to be a nightmare for yours truly.

It began oh so innocently, landing these neat silver-colored fish in water that was only 10 to 20 feet deep.

On top of that, the water was crystal clear and we could see the bottom.

That was not a good thing.

Somehow, I accidentally bumped Dad’s tackle box, sending it off the side of the boat to the bottom. Only my heart sank quicker than the tackle box, for I knew what was coming.

“OK, smart guy, you know what that means...” he said, his voice trailing off.

“Well, since we’re using bait, can I buy you a new tackle box out of my allowance?” I asked, feigning some hopeful enthusiasm.

“Nope, get your ass in the water and go get that tackle box,” he said. “You can see it on the bottom. It’s just sitting there. You’ll be in and out before you even know youre wet.”

So, in the water I went, headed toward the tackle box, which was really in only about 10 feet of water.

Unfortunately, when I grabbed the handle and began to head back to the surface, the tackle box opened and a good portion of its contents spilled onto the sandy ocean floor.

It took three or four more trips to the bottom to get the stuff that had spilled out and the dives were uneventful... until I saw The Shadow move across the bottom.

Quickly, I turned my head and, there he was the star of Jaws.

OK, he wasn’t the 35-foot behemoth of Hollywood fame, but he was a shark and knowing what it was capable of, it scared the fish out of me!

As you can probably imagine, I surfaced as quickly as possible and scrambled back into the boat.

But, were not finished with Key West, Fla. just yet, Loyal Readers.

The next day, we were drifting with the current, the salt-water mass taking us this way and that.

As Dad was busy getting quite a kick out of being able to feed seagulls fish right out of his hands, my thoughts began to drift, much like our craft.

All of a sudden, my fishing pole jerked in my hands, startling me back to coherency.

Eagerly, I reeled in the line, only to see this ugly looking green... pseudo fish... on the hook. At least it looked green, though Dad made sure to correct me later, saying it was brown.

“Uh, Dad, I think weve got a problem,” I said as the fish suddenly made itself onto a balloon.

Yup, I had managed to hook something called a blowfish.

To me, with its round shape and its puke-green color, it resembled something that looked like it came flying out of Linda Blair’s mouth in The Exorcist.

“Don’t be a (wuss)!” Dad said. “Take the damn thing off the hook and throw it in the (storage) well.

“We’ll see what it tastes like when we fry him up.”

OK, sure. So I put Mr. Blowfish on the floor of the boat because his skin was like sandpaper and begin to attempt to extricate the hook, which it appeared had been swallowed, from his mouth.

No problem, right?


Suddenly, Mr. Blowfish must have thought my left index finger was bait because he flashed his white fangs at me and bit down on the finger. Out of both shock and pain, I let out a screech that could have been heard back home in Northeast Ohio.

Seeing Dad was going to do absolutely nothing with the exception of sit on his butt and laugh, I began thrashing around, smacking Mr. Blowfish against the side of the boat in an attempt to free my digit.

After about an hour (OK, probably more like 10 seconds), he let go.

I promptly cut the line, tossed Mr. Blowfish back into the drink and watched as he swam merrily away, as if nothing had happened.

If I didn’t know better, I could have sworn the flippin’ thing was grinning at me!

Back on land, Mr. Blowfish’s chomp resulted in me getting four stitches in my finger.

When Dad went back out on the water the next day, I became a landlubber.

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