Monday, November 23, 2009

The Golden Girls Fishing Trip – The Big One That Couldn’t Get Away

By Norma

The weather was beautiful in Michigan, late June 2009.  My cousin Sandy, my friend Beverly and I were on a road trip heading to Hess Lake, in Newaygo Michigan, to enjoy four days of fishing and relaxation. 

Beverly was a "greenhorn" when it came to fishing and she had shyly purchased her first adult fishing pole. I had given her one of my Dad's old tackle boxes and filled it full of basic necessary items for fishing. My cousin Sandy said that she was set, she brought along her old trusty fishing pole that hadn't been used in decades. 

Once we arrived and unpacked our gear, I went to the bait store to purchase a variety of bait before our first fishing excursion, and of course, Sandy and Beverly had come along too. Everyone in the store could hear Beverly in the background mumbling loudly, "Ewww, that's nasty!" while looking at the bait. I quickly purchased bait, got Beverly out of the store, and we all headed back to our rental house on Hess Lake. I then gathered our purchased bait and headed inside. Beverly was watching me unpack the bait and says, "You really aren't going to put those worm containers in the refrigerator, are you?!!!!" "Well, of course I am, I have to keep them at the right temperature," I replied. In the mean time, my cousin Sandy is standing near us laughing out loud. Sandy and I had grown up around the farm when we were kids, and it had been close to 45 years ago since we had last fished together, or for that matter, we really hadn't seen much of each other in all those years. When we were young back then, we had been two cousins that what one of us didn't think of, the other did for that matter.

I had come to Hess Lake to fish, and fishing is what I was going to do. We gathered up our fishing tackle and headed for a small pontoon boat we rented named Gertrude. Sandy had packed up some snacks to take along on the boat. She was always the practical one. Beverly was side tracked worrying about whether she had the right clothes along for the boat ride and I was concerned more with where the fish might be on this sunny warm, breezy afternoon. We also realized that we needed a way to determine where the good holes were in this lake because it is shallow.  So we borrowed a 10 foot plumping pvc pole from a neighbor.  I put Beverly in the front of the boat in charge of the pole because she was the tallest and new how to swim if she fell in while searching for holes.

After gathering up all of our things and the pole, we headed out to the lake and began surveying the color of the choppy water, I decided on a spot to stop and fish and Beverly checked for deeper holes with the pole, we looked like Mississippi mud finders. Sandy slowly let down one anchor and Beverly dropped the other, “splash”. I figured beginner's luck would prevail. And, actually, I was hoping it would. I thought if Beverly had good luck fishing she might just develop a lasting interest in fishing, and have a good trip. She did enjoy riding on the pontoon.

(Norma and Beverly)

After rigging up our poles, and each taking our respective places on the pontoon, we threw out our lines. I hollered out some instructions as how to watch the lines so they wouldn't get tangled with each other's lines. Beverly suddenly yells, "Get the net, I think I got a big one!" I secured my pole, Sandy laid her's down, and we both ran to the end of the boat where Beverly held her proud bent fishing pole. "I seen a bass jumping way over there by the weeds, I think I might have got that one," says Beverly in an exciting voice. She hands out her fishing pole to me and says, "You take it!" "Just reel slowly, and hold up the tip. Don't give 'em any slack! And whatever you do, don't let that fish get under the boat," I said loudly. "No, you take it!", Beverly hollered back to me once more, so I did. In the mean time, Sandy had grabbed the net and was leaning over the pontoon like there was a gigantic event coming. The pole was bent in my hand and felt like it could have been a small whale that had somehow made its way to Hess Lake.

I began to watch the bobbing of the pole as it pulled the line from under the boat and tugged every so often. I noticed every time the choppy water rocked the boat, so did the pole in my hand. Suddenly, Sandy looks at me, and I at Sandy...

"Should I pull up the anchor?" asks Sandy.  "Might as well," I answered. 

Sure enough, Bev hooked herself a fine anchor. However, there was a six inch catfish that had circled itself about 100 times around the anchor rope. We laughed until we were in tears.


By the third day, Beverly was out early morning fishing on the dock before Sandy and I had drank our coffee. I looked over and saw Beverly wearing a special fishing shirt she had purchased without me knowing the day before at the bait store. Sandy chuckled loudly as she looked over and saw Beverly fishing all by herself and displaying her proud fishing shirt with all the printed decals.

Sometimes we did more laughing than fishing on our trip, and that was just fine with me. Three good friends had an enjoyable time at Hess Lake, and fish stories to tell, and memories to keep for a lifetime.

Fishing can open up many doors, in our case rekindling friendships.

Norma, Beverly, and Sandy.

(Sandy at the Hess Lake cottage rental)

Note from the editor:  Norma, Beverly and Sandy were guests at one of my lake front cottages on Hess Lake in Newaygo Michigan.  They were truely a joy to have as guests.  In fact, I so admired Beverly's increasing interest in fishing after watching her from a far and listening to the girls constant laughter and stories, that it re-sparked my interest in fishing this past year.  Thank you girls for giving me that wonderful gift.  I will truly be indebted to you forever!  You girls represent the simple pleasures in life so well.


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