Thursday, June 7, 2012

Stab Wounds While Fishing

(Caution: some narration in this account may be graphic.)

As part of my chill-out time today during work - aka the lunch break - I decided to take my boss' advice and park at a shady area to relax for 30 minutes. It just so happened that shady area was on a lake. Carter lake, to be precise. Being very low, mossy and fully of water millfoil, it wasn't very attractive. But hey, it was a lake.

I had just completed a bed-bug inspection on a home very nearby and was getting ready to do some ride-alongs with my boss.

I thought I would just stare at the water and enjoy the air conditioning while dinking around with my iPad. I pulled up and another gentleman had a couple of catfish lines in the water. I put my car into park, convinced he catfishing gentleman was really just bathing his hot dog in a bunch of seaweed for a couple of hours.

Then the water moved.

If you haven't read John Montana's Carp on the Fly, you should. The fish he is constantly holding up, and the descriptions that accompany them haunt you any time you are near water where grass carp might be milling around in the depths. I still had 25 minutes, so I hopped out, strung up and tied one on. (Of course, I follow strict rules about fishing while at lunch so as not to misrepresent myself or my employer, including wearing my vest to cover my logo. Don't be that guy who doesn't do that.)

"Caught anything?" I asked the gentleman as I pulled line through the stripping guides. My boots crunched clods of clay as I made my way to the rocky shore.

"Nah, I just got here."

I got everything set and started fishing the water. I dropped an egg sucking leach about eight feet from shore with very slow action, and an approximately 14" carp came up and hit it on the surface. I couldn't believe my eyes, and my heart took a leap.

Missed the hookset. Tunnel vision immediately set in.

I put the leech right back where it was, and the carp took it again. It was a rich, golden color with a bright white mouth. This time, I made the hookset, but the s.o.g. buried his nose in the silt trying to run.

You know why I knew he had a bright white mouth? Because it flashed right as he spit out my fly. It was like he had chosen me, then thrown me out like the garbage.

I cast a few more times as I let my adrenaline drop again.

"What are you fishing for?" I asked the gentleman, once again aware of my surroundings.

"Catfish. I'm using hotdogs."

"Oh. Well, try them pretty shallow. Seems to be working."

He reeled in and adjusted them while I pulled in a fingerling bass and two sunfish.

"Yeah, I just buried my nephew, and he loved to fish, so I figured I would come out and fish," the man said.

My heart sank for him. My attention was riveted. The remnants of my tunnel vision immediately dissipated.

"May I ask how he passed?" I ventured.

"Stabbed. Right in the heart." the man said, as he sat in his lawn chair with his poles. A few moments passed.

"I'm sorry to hear that." I was maybe twenty feet away, fishing a clearing in the millfoil.

"Yeah, and boy, heh, when it rains it pours. I just got a phone call after setting up here that my 102 year old grandmother probably won't live through the day. So, I figured I would do something relaxing."

Only three seconds passed.

"I'm sorry about your grandmother and your nephew."

"Well, that's life, you know... my nephew, he loved to fish. Always tryin' to help somebody, and some guy had to go and stab him right through the heart with a Rambo knife. He never had a chance. Bled out on the table."

"That must have been terrible to go through for you."

Silence settled again. The wind picked up, but it was at my back, so casts were still steady. But, I didn't want to be late, and had been party to enough. It honesty felt like the man felt better talking to somebody. And maybe I'm crazy, but I felt better after listening. I felt I should have said more.

Before going to that lake, I had been thinking about my earlier mistakes that day: comments and things that I had said, or silly mistakes at work that were getting me down. I had been praying for some help to come out of it with strength beyond my own.

Then it was like, boom. Everything came back to perspective for me with one simple sentence, with someone I didn't know, the wind at our backs, relishing something that the living and the dead both fondly enjoy.

Whoever it was that stabbed this guy's nephew had stabbed him, too, just in another way.

Before I left, I told him I believed we will see those who pass away again. He shared the belief. I offered a visit from some folks to share a message, and he politely declined. I wished him a good time fishing, even if there was nothing I could do to wish him a good day.

As I drove off, I saw him reading his scriptures, sitting in his lawn chair with his pole, trying to heal. Stab wounds don't go away very easily.


  1. Anthony
    Great story and a lesson in how life unfolds delivering the good and bad. If you think you have it bad just remember there is always someone out there worst off than you. Thanks for sharing

  2. I believe that when it's your time, they just turn off your clock, so live, life to it's fullest.


  3. A well written post. It is very unfortunate these things happen, but like the mans said "That's life." The only thing you can do is hike your pants up and keep wading.