A Man in Search of a Verb

The only crime in fishing worse than being caught with live earthworms in your vest by your pals, is telling a fishing story poorly.

The formula is fairly simple. There must be some hardship introduced by the environment, there must be some inadequacy of your tackle overcome, and the fish must be large enough to predate unwary children or small pets, and only your unflinching heroics saves the day.

Which is why I’m in such a quandary, as I lack a proper verb.

fish_stories

Sunrise was just illuminating the lake when the hound and I stopped at an area known for morning bait activity.  The precipitous angle of the bank and depth of water made fly fishing uncertain, so I pitched a drop shot rig into the deep water and was rewarded with the unmistakable thump of a bass.

It was small bass to be sure – no more than nine or ten inches, but  it rocketed from twenty feet deep to the surface in a single frantic burst of energy. As I reeled to take up the slack, I thought it odd that a fish known for fighting the angler for every inch was suddenly a foot and a half in the air, and appeared to want to stay that way …

… re-entering the water, the bass skittered toward me and then vanished in a bathtub sized swirl.  Having had the same once-in-a-lifetime experience in saltwater, I flipped the bail open and started the methodical … One Mississippi, Two Mississippi …

…anyone that’s fished for Stripers knows that bait with spiny fins or sharp gill plates are typically swallowed head first, and the squeal of the drag is them taking the bait and mashing it into submission, before swapping ends and swallowing the result.

… so I continued to count as I watched the line move deeper into the lake.

Reaching sixty-five, I re-engaged the bail and hoped for the best. The rod doubled over and the line started making those wonderful harp chords that greet a peel with the drag set properly. I assumed the fish was larger than the 10lb mono my spool was crammed with – but with ample light tackle experience and luck, and patience, I had a slim chance to bring this cannibalistic leviathan to hand.

Six minutes later I had the fish turned and I wasn’t losing any more line, but we’d only fought to an uneasy draw. The fish showed no signs of tiring as it attempted to wrap me around anything nearby, alternating with simply sounding and sulking.

My heroics were short lived, as the line suddenly went limp and I assumed I’d been heavy handed at an inopportune moment and It had broken me off. Instead, I reeled in a 10 inch bass much the worse off for the fun had at its expense.

… and so lies my conundrum. I never put steel to the fish so I can’t claim to have hooked a 10 lb bass, played sounds weak and will beg the follow on question, fought is technically correct but is akin to starting a story in the middle – rather than the beginning, and dallied with sounds vaguely feminine and has little place in such a outdoorsy epic …

A great tale without an active verb is merely a whimper. I’ll think on it more before attempting to enthrall coworkers with the retelling  …

4 thoughts on “A Man in Search of a Verb”

  1. So the construct is “I blanked a 10 lb bass for 6 minutes.” Filling in the blank with “F***ed with” comes to mind but in a g-rated world maybe “was attached to,” “was connected with,” or “was goofed on by,” is better.

  2. … “tapped that” … has a ring to it, but I’m not sure the angling world is ready for a hard “R” rating … The notion of anything more than PG means we’re entering the rarified turf normally reserved for aging senators buttressed by Viagra ..

  3. The Pope is in town. You put the – Full Fondle on that Fish! No, wait…you put the woofies to his cookies. Naw… basically, she doesn’t swallow and Senator…your Viagra was a waste.

  4. The acceptable verb you may be looking for is “shagged.” Popular in the U.K. where King’s English is spoken properly, it elevates Amricanese to the level of classicism – as in “How I Got Shagged By A Ten Pound Bass.”

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