07/29/08 — Memories made on a priceless day

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Memories made on a priceless day

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on July 29, 2008 1:44 PM

Too often in life we measure success by results and not by experience.

I was reminded of this valuable lesson during a morning of fishing on Saturday with three buddies at a private pond in Mar Mac.

We arrived around 7 a.m. with poles, enough tackle to at least look the part, bottled water and the eagerness of four guys determined to catch the fish that would suddenly land us a spot on the Bassmasters Tour.

Within five minutes of our first casts, one of my three counterparts had reeled in a pair of bass. Undeterred by his instant success with artificial bait and my lack thereof with Canadian nightcrawlers, I vowed to stick with my slimy friends from the North.

Needless to say, within 15 or so minutes I too had a rubber worm on my hook. After spending a good three hours watching my friends hook bass and catfish at will, I still had a zero on the scoreboard and was growing more bewildered by the moment.

Just as I began to verbalize my frustration, I felt a tug on my line and I heard the ever-so-sweet sound of my drag letting out as a small-mouth bass made his run with my lure. As my friends began to laugh and urge me on, the sounds of their voices quickly reminded me exactly why I was there.

Shortly after I landed my first catch of the day, the sun began to bake down on our modest fishing hole, where we did much less catching and more discussing of the peaks and valleys of life that all 20-something year-old guys venture through.

Fortunately, our amateur fishing instincts kicked in as we decided to reach back into the cooler once more for those nightcrawlers. Within moments of tossing a nightcrawler in the pond I saw my bobber disappear and felt the distinct jerk only a hungry catfish can make.

What ensued was a nearly 15-minute war of attrition between myself and a catfish desperate to escape with lunch. Suddenly, I was surrounded by three armchair quarterbacks. Each offered their own words of encouragement and coached me on how to get this lunker to shore.

As my hands began to cramp, sweat rolled down my back and in the midst of the battle of wills I couldn't have imagined being anywhere else.

Finally after what seemed like forever, me and my friend Michael had the roughly 13-pound catfish up on the shore. Just as we were about to pick up the less-than-thrilled fish for a Kodak moment, he managed to wiggle off the hook and escape with a nightcrawler for his troubles.

Perhaps the most humorous moment of the day came when I was attempting to make my way back up a muddy bank after releasing another catfish only to have the ground give out underneath me. As I went sliding back toward the pond, I managed to latch onto the outstretched arm of a friend as my left shoe plunged into the water.

My buddies, not in a hurry to offer me any condolences, let out plenty of hearty chuckles as I was left with a wet and muddy sock and shoe.

At the end of 5 1/2 hours of fishing, I was left thinking that the $2.34 I spent on worms, the cost of gas, water and food coupled with the pains of waking up at 6 a.m., all added up to the fishing I had hoped for and some priceless memories.