Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Catfish, Cranes & Crosswords

This weekend Adam invited me to go night fishing with him at a lake that supposedly is full of catfish.
Now, to the normal person a catfish might be a foot...foot-and-a-half long, right? Well, I did. Atleaset until I walked up to the building in front of the lake and saw pictures of a 6-foot catfish! Apparently these horrible looking things are like gold fish and grow as big as their surroundings allow. Learn something new every day...huh?!

Another thing I learned Saturday is that I adapt quite well to new surroundings. Like the outside, for example.
If you don't know already I prefer make-up, heels and my heat set at 70 degrees. My sister claims all the outdoor, sporty and athletic genes that were allotted for the Tate children...but I'm okay with that. I can make it work when necessary. So, back to my impeccable outdoor adaptation skills. We got to the lake around 5:30 that evening and set-up "camp" as I would like to refer to it (only because I don't know all the technical terms for Adam's fishing tools). It was chilly, but it was so nice to get away from everything for a brief time and enjoy eachother's company. We cast out our three rods and waited.
  And waited.
       And waited.
I had only been fishing once in my life (years ago) prior to Saturday, so the time that you have to set aside for just waiting was astounding. I was sure that the chicken livers and shrimp would scream "here fish-y, fish-y" the instant it settled. Wrong. Don't get me wrong, I had no where to be, no one waiting on me and I was excited to spend time with Adam while learning new things. I was just concerned that maybe catfish migrate or know the "fish hook drill." I was told neither hypothesis was correct. Although we went to the lake to catch catfish, we ended up being entertained by a few other things.

One of the first things we noticed when we set up "camp" was that this place
was apparently a Mecca for all stray cats. I love cats. I have two. But when there are about seven cats and two kittens watching you for hours, it becomes a bit uneasy. One black cat would perch next to me and just stare. I felt like it was reading my mind! The white cat would sit in front of Adam and do the same...weird. Although the cats starring at us and eating the majority of our bait when we walked to the other side of the lake is entertaining, that is not the main cat story. Like I said, there were two kittens. One was lively and easily entertained. But it was the second one that broke my heart. It was laying under the porch all night crying like a baby. I've heard cats make just about every noise, but this noise was painstakingly sad. Every time it would try to get up, it would shiver and fall back down. The palm-sized kitten was extremely sick. It cried for hours without any of the other cats coming to it's aid. We walked by it towards the end of the night and I put the rest of the chicken livers next to it's mouth and gave her a nudge. She just started crying and could not get up. Her body was nothing but fur and  bones. I am sure that she died that night. The most interesting thing about that heartbreaking scene was that despite the  kittens cries for help, not one of the cats would go near it. Their instincts kept them at a distance as if they didn't want to get "sick" either...so sad to watch but ironically very interesting.

We were still waiting for a fish. Just one!! One that I was almost dreading to see. I honestly did not want to pull a 6-foot anything out of the water. We knew they were interested only because every time we reeled in, our bait was gone... but nothing. It did become quite funny when the crane came out of the woods,though. Because I am not very good at estimating things(time, weight, length, distance...numbers) I am going to say that the crane was also 6-feet-ish. Mostly legs  (think Heidi Klum) but still a huge bird. It would walk slowly out into the water and just stand there. For what seemed like hours. Then all of a sudden it would snap it's beak into the water and come up with a fish! What?!? Wait...we had been  sitting outside for hours with bobbers, bells, chicken livers, shrimp and expensive fishing rods and this bird comes out of the woods...empty handed...and grabs two fish without breaking a sweat?! I was perplexed to say the least. I understand that it's nature and all, but I still think that bird was just showing off.

Thankfully, I could avert my attention from the non-existent catfish, the crying kitten and the cocky crane to my crossword puzzle. Come to find out, Adam and I are a good crossword puzzle team. He is better at them than I am so I focused on the easy puzzles.  Six of them to be exact. Only interrupting the silence to ask what a butter imitation is or what the word for a Russian czar is. I munched on chex mix, beef jerky and my faithful Mt. Dew throughout the night until the chill started to settle in. We casted out a dozen times over the hours and walked around the lake a few times to get our blood pumping. Around 11:00 Adam's step dad stopped by to check on us and helped Adam get some fire wood. I was totally impressed when Adam walked out of the woods with a tree. Yes, you read that correctly. He knocked over this old rotted tree that was also around 6 feet-ish and carried it over to our "camp."

The only time I panicked was when Adam was in the woods getting firewood and I heard the "alert" bell-thingy on my rod.  Adam had attached it to my rod because my bobber didn't have a light on it and I would know when something was "hooked."  Neat little contraption, I must say. It was loud enough to interrupt my deep thoughts about what a North American deer is  called while I was working on my 5th crossword puzzle of the night. So,I stood up, focused on my bobber...than my bell...then my bobber again. It rang again! Oh my gosh! Adam and his step dad were well into the woods and I was nervous to yell because I was sure all the fish would scream "swim away" like they do in Finding Nemo. Before I could make a decision,  one of Adam's bobbers started moving back and forth, too! Even if I knew what I was supposed to do with a fishing rod and a 6-foot creature on the end of it, there was no way I could have managed two rods and 12-feet of fish! I yelled...twice. Adam came running only to reel in our lines and find all the bait missing. He did show me earlier in the night what I was supposed to do when I caught something, but amidst the adrenaline and the fear of facing a whiskered fish, I felt that yelling for the guy would work just fine. I never said my adaptation skills included fishing, ok?! I was learning...just at a very slow pace.

Despite the crying cats, cocky cranes and missing catfish, I truly enjoyed my first night fishing trip. Even if you think you're not the outdoor-sy type, you should definitely give it a shot. I learned alot about the techniques behind fishing and that it's not just about throwing some string into water with a worm attached to the end. I learned alot about the way fish "hunt" for their food, that some eat on the bottom of the lake while others prefer eating from the surface. I learned that the two beavers in the lake like to eat catfish and therefore would make it difficult to catch anything. But after everything, I learned why it's called fishing and not catching. 


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I am a 20-something young woman growing up and experiencing the things my mother warned me about...love, friendship, hard work, disappointment and success.