Some beach, somewhere
Besides the cast of interesting characters running the Bender’s Fishing Camp, I arrived with two of my favorite Chicago fishing pals: brother Bob and his friend Rob, aka Gonzo.
Rob brought his 18-foot, aluminum Lund fishing boat complete with carpeted deck, two live wells, adjustable stools, waxed gunnels, cup holders, a dozen-odd rods and reels, a large chest of lures and three motors. The boat comes in pristine condition, and then for the next week it is trashed. Beer cans, for example, are thrown on the floor for the entire week, smashed and then shuffled into one corner. Lures, leaders, hooks and leftover bait are also strewn about. At the end of the trip, the filthy boat is hauled home to the construction company where Rob works. There he commandeers two cranes, hooks them fore and aft, raises the two ton craft, rolls it upside down and shakes it out in the parking lot.
He fishes with about as much finesse.
Some anglers enjoy casting with skill and ease like an accomplished musician with a fine instrument; Rob lunges and lurches his bait like a demented backhoe operator dislodging mud stuck in the bucket. This is big fish territory and most poles are outfitted with twelve-pound test, plenty of strength to land Northern Pike up to four feet long. Rob uses thirty pound braided line so he can retrieve his lure from whatever misadventure he sent it flying. “If I get a fish that tangles itself on a log,” Rob brags, “I’m bringing in the fish and the log.”
Bob, meanwhile, is a stand-up comedian on the water. His favorite routine of this particular week was to mime the British narrator of “Deadliest Catch,” aired by the Discovery Channel. “On today’s Deadliest Catch,” he intoned with a passable accent, “we are in northern Minnesota after the feared walleye of Island Lake.” And like the producer of the television show who has to censor inappropriate language uttered by the salty crew, I can’t go into too much detail about the things that come out of his mouth. I can say that no bodily function is out of bounds for discussion, no topic too politically incorrect to broach or profanity too gross to utter.
When Bob tires of narrating, he sings songs by his favorite cowboy artists including Blake Shelton, Mac Davis and Kenny Chesney. Years ago Mom gave him money for singing lessons but he spent it on beer. What he lacks in a musical virtuoso, however, he makes up for in enthusiasm and volume. You’ve never been properly serenaded until you’ve heard him break the lovely stillness of a mirrored and misty lake with a revved up version of “Oh Lord It’s Hard To Be Humble.”
Gonzo, meanwhile, fancies himself a religious and polite music critic of few words yelling time and again, “For the love of God will you please shut up?”
Together, they make a comedy duo that rivals the likes of Laurel and Hardy, Amos and Andy, or Cheech and Chong.
My favorite antic of the trip occurred about mid-week when it was discovered that the live well was getting rank. “A crappie or something died in there,” as one of them put it. There was one small problem with draining the tank, however, the pump was broken. Did this deter Frick and Frack? Not in the least.
After some discussion it was determined that if the boat was brought to plane– a phenomenon that happens at about 50 mph– the well could be emptied by pulling a plug. With Bob’s head stuck into the stinking well he gave Rob the middle finger up, the Chicago variant of a thumbs up. At 60 mph the scheme needed a little tweaking: the water in the tank needed to be sloshed side to side by making left and right turns, which Bob directed again with middle finger. I can only imagine what it looked liked to the casual observer: Bob’s butt and finger high in the air as we zigged and zagged at near warp speed across the lake.
All I could do was hum quietly, “Some Beach, Some Where.”