The fishing “To do” list

The fishing “To do” list


As some would say, “It’s a small world.”  Running into a friend I had not seen in almost 25 years, we were able to sit awhile over lunch and catch up on personal history while we ketchupped our burgers and fries.  We had stopped for fuel at a truck-stop along a busy interstate.  I ask you, what are the odds?  I was at pump #9; and a vaguely familiar face was at pump #10.  Around about $30 worth of gas and rising, I finally had to ask:  “Pardon me, but you look like a friend from my college days.  Are you by any chance Bruce Calvin Scalawag?”


My inquiry was met with a surprised, curious stare, but recollections came forth from the foggy past.  A smile brightened Bruce’s countenance.  He called me by name and stepped over to shake my hand.  “Man, we’ve changed!” he observed—and this is how we ended up together in the truck-stop’s fast-food burger joint.

The changes Bruce initially referred to were on the surface, i.e., our appearances.  Extra weight, receding and graying hairlines, wrinkles and blemishes here and there—we were not the trim, suave and debonair (pronounced “swave” and “de-boner”) college men we used to be.  I was returning to Briar Circle from Florida; Bruce was returning to Florida.  Bruce had done pretty well for himself, and had beachfront property with a nice home.

We caught up on family, our parents and siblings, sons and daughters.  We shared what we knew about old friends, but it wasn’t much.  Some seemed to have vanished; others were available on Facebook.

When Bruce asked about the Briar Circle land, I bragged a little about resident cougars, bears, bigfoots, beautiful mountains vistas, starry sky at night—but Bruce beat me.  His inland Florida property had cougars, bears, giant rattlers and moccasins, and alligators.  Besides the magnificent view of the Gulf of Mexico from his beach property, there were dolphins, sharks, manta rays, scantily clad tourists—tons of tourists, in fact.  Bruce told me the population of his community in winter months is around 16,000.  In tourist season, it exceeds 150,000.

150,000?!  No, thank you.  I like the beach, and those sharks and dolphins and things, but although I was born and raised in Florida, I could never go back.  It is too crowded, and I prefer Briar Circle in the Ouachitas.  Regarding those beach-infesting scantily clad tourists, do not trust the travel brochures.  Most of them have the sorts of bodies clothing was invented for.

Bruce was gaining on retirement age, so naturally I asked about his plans.  He said enthusiastically, “I’ve spent the last few years finishing up a fishing ‘to do’ list.  I bought a boat.  I’m waiting for the grandkids to get grown so we can go fishing for trophy marlin, sailfish, sharks, and cook fresh red snapper on the grill, and snorkel-dive in the Keys—we’re going fishing!”

This was a far cry from the bass and bream we fished for in our younger days, but Bruce was like that.  He always wanted things to be busy.  He would enjoy the Briar Circle wilderness shack for 3 or 4 days, but that’s all.  He showed me the cellphone photo of his boat.  It would not fit on Doris’ pond.

But the fishing is generally pretty good at Doris’ pond, and when I fish, I follow a “to do” list myself.  First, I make sure I’m well rested, even if it means sleeping a little longer the morning of the fishing expedition.  I don’t have much use for the “early bird” fish, who gets the first worm.  I’m just as happy with a late fish.

I always check my tackle before fishing, too, before the fishing venture.  I check to see if one of my three lures is already on the line; I check the cane pole to see if the hook, sinker and bobber are still on the line, and that the line is on the pole.

Next, I check to make sure there’s nothing I don’t want to meet between me and the pond.  This is the last item on the “to do” list.  Then, I walk a few yards to the pond and catch a few fish.  Not sharks or sailfish, but bass, bluegills and catfish.

There are no scantily clad tourist, and there isn’t much of an adrenaline rush, but—I like it.  And the fish always stay for dinner, too.

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Craig Hall
Publisher, writer, photographer and teacher.