I have a few friends who fish with their spouses regularly, but after several disasters in our early married days I thought I had burned out mine on that idea. Yes, it’s possible I was just too focused, a carryover from my intense decathlon training. On the other hand, Elaine sees fishing as a good time to read. Ying versus yang, fanatical versus fun – polar opposites. So, if you’re wondering: Yes, I was to blame. It was all my fault, of course!
With my admitted track record, I was doubly shocked when she asked me a week ago if we could go fishing? Really? Maybe she saw some glimmer of hope that I had mellowed out. Whatever it was, I was excited she was willing to take another chance. This was a golden opportunity to prove I was a somewhat reformed and more rational fishaholic. Yes, I needed a good plan to cover up my worst faults – and I knew this wasn’t going to be easy but it was doable. Any mistakes and my long history of innocuous and unintentional faux pas would quickly and unmercifully come back to haunt me. Unfortunately, Elaine has an exceptionally long and accurate memory, making me practically helpless and defenseless against decades of old offenses!
We got to San Luis about 8:45 a.m. and a calm and pristine lake greeted us. About this time my fishing juices kicked in and I thought to myself: I should have been here at sunrise for the early bite. It was only a passing thought, but I scolded myself for my lack of self-control then refocused on the task at hand. Yes, I had to carefully watch my ingrained habits and stay on mission. Any indiscretions could be fatal. It was a good start for a beautiful day.
My wife is a good sport, so when I backed the boat down to launch it, she offered to hold the leash rope. I gave her (careful) instructions to keep the boat away from the dock to keep the paint from getting scratched. Well, you know what happens when you tell someone not to do something? After launching, I was pulling up the ramp to park when I looked in the mirror and saw the boat float over and gently whack the side of the dock as Elaine furiously tried to push it away before I see it. Not thinking, I yelled (gently!) out the window, “Keep it off the dock.” Big, big mistake! OK, while I reverted for a second, I then apologized for the next 10 minutes as I tried to recover as much good will as I could. She forgave me ... later.
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Finally, we were fishing. I was working a point when the pole snapped back and I told her to grab it and work in the fish. Keeping the pole up, she reeled the nice 21-incher to the boat, where I landed and released it – her very first lineside! Believe it or not, she had never caught a striper before. She laughed. It was a great moment – one I had hoped would happen.
She posted the picture of her holding the striper on her Facebook page and before we even left the lake she had almost 140 likes and 51 comments. Obviously, folks liked seeing her post about her first striper a whole lot more than my boring big fish pictures.
I suggested we end the day early and have a victory dinner at the local Petro Diner, a longtime fishing trip tradition. Funny, but the soggy pancakes I initially got served perfectly complemented the overall ambiance of this memorable trip.
Having a spouse who’s willing to support your passion – and who intentionally tries to connect with what you love to do in spite of your faults – proves that you picked the right one in the first place! Yes, I’m still on probation, but we’re going again soon. Never give up!