The Eastern Oklahoma wind was howling so that I could only suggest a direction for that old broken-back minnow, a lure that I have used for so long I forget where it came from. I would muscle it into the wind, parallel to the willows hanging over the undercut in the bank, and hope the wind would blow it underneath the limbs, and yet not on the rooted bank itself. The roots, extensions from dozens of trees that line the bank, would capture the lure and I would never get it back. Following a few vain attempts, the wind and I made and arrangement, and I dropped the bait just under the lowest root of the biggest willow. Success!
But there was not time to enjoy the cast as the water literally exploded around the bait. Time slowed. The wind stopped; I could count every scale along the jaw line of that large mouth surrounding my lure. The utter surprise of the strike jolted me to act, and in my best Kevin Van Dam imitation, I yanked back on the rod to set the hook on the largest fish I had seen in years. Except for the monsters in the tank over at Bass Pro Shop.
The rod bent deeply, straining against the weight of the strike. I yanked again and began to reel furiously. Suddenly, the rod straightened, and, as if in slow motion, I could see the giant fish turn his big head toward me, wink at me with his fishy eye, open his cavernous mouth, and spit out my lure like my then-baby son used to launch his pureed sweet potatoes. With crystal-clear vision, I could see the broken-back minnow, my favorite lure of all time, growing in size as it came zinging back, right toward my head. With the speed of a large antique turtle, I ducked as quickly as I could, avoiding catching the bait with my forehead, but succeeding in catching both treble hooks in my hair.
Because I was fishing as a guest of a church member, I refrained from forming with my mouth the words that were flying through my cranium, bouncing off every corner in the vacant space. I carefully laid down my rod, and gently untangled the laser-sharpened double-barbed hooks from my hair.
My hair. Wait- where was my cap? My lucky fishing cap?
My cap flew farther than my lure…
It seems to have blown over the water and into the roots of the dozens of trees that line the undercut. Because it was my lucky hat, I wanted it back. So, I spent the next hour fighting the wind to try and hook my lucky hat and reel it back to the safety of my sun-burning head.
I guess that’s why they call it ‘fishing’, and not ‘catching’.