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1200 words
Submitted by-
Rob F. Sanderson
724 Edgewater,
Portage, WIS

Fish Between Showers
Rob F. Sanderson

           The mid-morning was gray when Harry and I wound up the eggbeater and pushed off in our canoe for the lower end of the lake

           The sky was filled with cloud fuzz and a fickle wind blew one way and then contradicted itself by blowing right back again. It might rain, and it might not. This is, if you went fishing it probably would rain; but if you stayed at the cabin it probably wouldn’t. That kind of weather.

           “We’ll overtake you at the net stakes,” T.J. shouted after us, using the Indian spring whitefish net locations as a landmark. “We’ll be fishing in the lower bay. You can find us there.” The lower bay was fifteen miles an hour and three quarters for our motor canoe but only half that time for T.J. in the V-bottom.

           The white gulls flew low over the lake. Harry and I ran for an hour - one can of gas. As I refilled from the red can the first drops of rain hit.

           “Equal cousins across the lake,” Harry observed. “Better head for shore.”

           I turned the cap back on the filled tank, and dug in with a maple paddle for a protected island shore about a hundred feet distant. Under the over hanging pines, water dripped down off the needles onto my rain shirt and the tarp Harry wrapped himself in. In a few minutes the shower passed, leaving a half-inch of water in the canoe bottom.

           “Maybe we’d best fish here until we see what the weather’s going to do,” I suggested. So we each strung a minnow and dunked it in the channel way between the mainland shore and the island that had sheltered us.

           At first we drifted around, but the wind was too skittish and Harry let out a small anchor. In a couple of minutes he had a bite. It was a small walleye, which he dropped back into the lane. “Now to try for mama and papa,” he said resolutely, readjusting the squashed minnow.

           The Northern Minnesota woods were green with the wetness. The air near the water was quiet but above, the tattered clouds were sailing cross-wise to each other, saying, “Unsettled weather.” Two or three blue patches showed in the sky, but dark clouds soon patched the holes

           “It may clear off,” Harry is a born optimist. “You never can tell.”

           Soon I saw a misty cloud coming out of the northwest, skimming the tops of the tall Norway pines on the island. Another light squall hit, we sat through this one on the water, warm and sticky under our waterproof protection.

           “Looks like an all day off-and-on,” Harry forecast. “T.J.’s been rained out or he’d have been here by now.”

           Just then his line twitched. He sat up alert; fed out another six inches. The extra line passed through the guides and the rod tip twitched again.

           He set the hook with an upward jerk. The rod quivered against the fish. Soon it was on the surface and I swung the victim in. A nice walleye flopped on the canoe bottom.

           “Want to go home?” I asked Harry, knowing full well he would stay fishing in Pompeii Bay while Vesuvious erupted if there were a chance of catching a fish there.

           "Wait a while," he answered impatiently

           That fish cost us another unprotected squall. It hit with fury, beating the water flat and reminding me of the semi-tropical storms along the lower Mississippi River. The big drops hit the water like tons of speeding buckshot. In two or three minutes the edge of the down pour passed by.

           “Maybe we’d better go soon,” a little water down Harry’s neck was making him more conservative.

           “Wait a minute,” it was I who delayed, feeling a twitch on my line. I fed out a few careful inches of line. Another twitch. I set the hook.

           For a minute the fish held like a throbbing anchor. Then he gave water. Almost up, he sounded about six feet of line and then began to yield again to my steady pull.

           Out of the water and into the boat; a dandy. I was about to reach for a new minnow when Harry stopped me.

           “Not a clear patch in the whole sky. Look out that big rain is coming from the northwest; we’d better hike for home.”

           Harry pulled the anchor while I wound up the little motor. On the second pull she perked, the canoe bow went up and we pushed through the waters toward the cabin.

           Out in the channel way between two big islands, I could see the rain beating down foggy-gray over the main lake. On my left in a shallow bay I spied a south-facing cliff.

           “We’d better put in there until it’s over,” I called above the motor, pointing toward the cliff

           There were a few niches in the cliff where we could duck back under. Drawing the canoe along the rocky shore, we stepped out and pulled her keel up on a smooth boulder just as the first spatter marred the bay.

           For a half hour the bathwater of the gods deluged the bay. Harry and I hugged the cliff face, along the dry fringe of the leeward base. A few trickles from above caused us to shift position now and then.

           The rain lightened, and stopped. We pulled up the canoe, dumped it, and headed for the cabin again. When we docked it was past lunchtime.

           “What do you want for lunch boys?” a voice haled us from the cabin porch. “Anything but fish. We’ve already eaten.”

           “Nothing but fish!” Harry called back, holding up the two walleyes.

           That was one time it paid not to be rained out!

© 2003 Chronicles of Bob