This past weekend brought yet another glorious tale of men braving the elements. Going forth into the wild and unknown, being tested, pushed to the limit...
The stuff legends are made of.
This time, we didn't venture to Eureka.
No, for this particular adventure, I will take you to the exotic and wild...Waukau Dam.
It was Saturday, around 12:45 pm, when I got the text from my brother Luis. He said that Mark (if you recall, he is my college-at-heart mentor from the Eureka post) wanted to go spear/bow fishing, and that I should come along.
I have had a mere two previous fishing experiences. One involving ice, snow, and a tiny little hole in a lake. The other, while warmer, involved no fishing gear whatsoever, just a bunch of crazy college guys.
So, since I'm clearly an expert fisherman I thought this was a fantastic idea.
I polished off the rest of my delicious chicken bruschetta sandwich, (I swear that Red Robin is one of God's many gifts to the humankind) and bid a fond farewell to my friends Theresa and Ashley.
Mark, Luis, Stephan and Isaac (Mark's son) were all munching on Little Ceaser's when I arrived; we headed out shortly thereafer.
We reached the dam, parked, and broke out the gear. I grabbed a spear, Stephan and Isaac had bows and Luis had the other spear. Mark forayed ahead, looking every bit like the late Steve Erwin.
Periodically he would bend over to examine the murky depths, peering intently through the nearly opaque surface, which reflected the bright clear sky above.
I kept waiting for him to yell, "Crikey! I got one 'oer here! Look at 'im! He's a ruddy big devil!"
But it never happened.
Something I never knew about carp fishing, is that some men go merely for the sport. What I mean by that is that everytime a fisherman catches a fish, he doesn't necessarily take it with him to eat. So along the banks of the river one can find the carp bodies scattered about.
Most with no eyes.
I decided to name this one Charlie the Carp.
We traveled along the banks, stopping sporadically at different potential spots. Looking for the perfect spot...
Actually Mark looked, I couldn't see past the reflections the sun cast on the surface of the river. Clearly, I have some evolving to do before I can have a successful fishing show of my own.
After we had been hiking up and down the shore for awhile, our troop began to split up, choosing our spots carefully. Some lingering at past spots, others moving further down the bank.
I picked a shadier location, where it wasn't so damn hard to see into the water, thus giving me a better chance to search out my prey.
A little ways down I could see Mark and Luis hovering over the water in a small clearing, they were definitely onto something. Luis crouched closer to the water his spear poised just above the surface. I could see Mark giving him encouraging words and pointing out the place to strike.
Then without warning the spear pierced the surface of the water. Luis had struck, like lightning, and it had apparently paid off!
After a brief struggle I saw Mark grab the spear and lift a big sucker out of the water.
He threw it onto the land and it flopped about in shock. It was magnificent.
Isaac was the first on the scene. He is a warrior at heart, and much more prone to try gross things than I am, because he stuck his fingers right into the gills of the slimy carp, picked it up and carried it around for all of us to see.
What a stud. He is just like his dad. An adventurer at heart! Fearing nothing, the world is his to capture and conquer.
I can't remember that stage of life very well, but watching him reminded me of a simpler time that is lost in the grind of our every day lives.
After Isaac threw the carp back onto the ground, it was Luis' turn.
I looked on in envy as he held up his trophy. At that moment I found myself determined to catch a fish.
I wanted one of my own.
Yes, admittedly, they are slimy greasy fish that do not taste very good unless they are smoked, and yes I would have to stick my fingers up its gills to hold it but...what the hell. You only live once! :)
This is the great thing about spending time with my brothers, it not only encourages me, but it drives me as well. I think some guy from the Bible wrote about men sharpening each other. Like iron sharpens iron or something like that...
Maybe it was Solomon. Or one of those other wise old guys.
I returned to my spot bent on conquest.
I hovered above the water for a while, and then I saw it! Was it my reflection on the water? No! The light underbelly of a big fish! Probably Charlie's brother. It was as if it was meant to be! I readied my spear...took a deep breath and plunged it into the water with all my force.
I felt the blow strike home! The spear jerked, and I could just hear what the fish must've been thinking at the moment...but in the interest of maintaining a PG rating on my blog I'll refrain from sharing it.
Then something happened, the spear stopped jerking. I brought it quickly up out of the water and to my dismay the little bugger had gotten away! Naught remained but a small scale on the tip of one of the prongs.
I nearly cried.
Thank God I didn't.
That fish was mine! Little bastard.
I vowed to myself, and to nature, that this would not be the last of the fish thing.
I returned to the group slightly downcast, but wouldn't remain so for long, as I soon found out. Around this time we were preparing to leave. All of a sudden Luis asked Mark if we were going to clean his fish.
Lightbulbs went on instantly in every head.
Genius idea, that!
We found a small piece of flat wood laying under some leaves near the car, perfect size for Luis' fish, it was like it was meant to be.
Isaac the warrior was naturally the first to insist on cutting off the head of the fish. We all agreed, and he went at it. It took him several good hacks, but he got the head off, and suddenly I found myself wondering if this was such a good idea after all...
Especially after the pool of blood began accumulating on the board. My eyes, however, remained glued to the spectacle a mix of horror and fascination as the process continued.
I don't know if you've ever cleaned a fish, or watched it cleaned, but I will tell you that it is 'effing gross! It didn't help that Luis had killed a mommy fish and she had about a billion-cajillion eggs in her stomach.
Luis was awarded the honors of gutting the fish, and I threw up in my mouth a little bit as he did so.
I didn't let on though, but instead presented a calm, cool exterior, as if this sort of thing happened every day in my own home growing up.
After the cleaning process was completed. We packed up and headed back to Oshkosh.
I felt a deep sense of contentment; true, I didn't get my fish, but that fish's days are numbered. I can wait with the patience of a dormant volcano when I want to, trust me.
I guess this is the end of my story for today.
There really isn't a moral or deeper meaning to be honest.
I think what I took away from this past Saturday were two things, one being the blessing of friendship and relationship. Relationship is really what this life is all about, I think. It trumps success and accomplishment every time, and leaves lasting legacy.
The second thing I've been coming to realize is the beauty of trying new things. I've said time and time again that life is too short to hold back, and I mean it.
I may not become the avid fisherman/hunter/outdoorsy type, but why should I let that hold me back from the experience of trying?
Maybe I took more away from a little fishing adventure than I thought...