Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Lady Who Caught a Bird

I grew up with three older sisters and three younger brothers. Two of the sisters were 10 and 13 years older, but the other sister was 1 and 1/2 years older, and the brothers were 1, 2, and 1 years apart. When the two older sisters had left the family nest, my Dad started taking the rest of us lake fishing, and we needed two rowboats for the six or seven of us. Our family record for one day of fishing was 102 fish, and one time Dad and the boys caught 32 catfish in less than half an hour. We sometimes teased Mom for her unorthodox methods -- she insisted on putting worms on lures -- but she caught more fish than any of us. There were a few unusual things that happened in those many fishing trips, but the one that beat all was the time that Mom caught a BIRD.

We were fishing in two boats on a lake at night. It was spooky dark and foggy, and we would have been lost if we didn't know the lake well. My mom and one brother were with me in one boat. Mom was using one of those lures with three treble hooks, and she put worms on all nine hooks. (We told her that the worms were not needed, that lures were designed to attract fish by the motion and noise they made, but she insisted that they needed to "have flavor".) She cast it toward a dam that we could barely see, and instead of hearing it plop into the water, we heard nothing, so we guessed that it had landed on the dam, which we knew had grass on top.

She reeled it in quickly, but we didn't hear it fall off the dam into the water, nor gurgle along the surface as expected. About when we expected the lure to reach our boat, I felt water splashing down on my face and heard a flapping sound from the top of her pole.

We discussed these clues and figured that the lure must have snagged a bird or bat, which carried it above the water until the line was short enough that it could pull free. We then figured it probably was not a bat, because it's 'radar' would detect the lure in the dark, and it would be agile enough to duck. So we voted for bird.

We must have been talking quite excitedly between the two boats, and voices carry very well over open water (actually, sound travels better through water than air). The next morning, we chuckled when we overheard some other fishermen saying "Did you hear about the lady who caught a BIRD?"

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