I live in Washington State, up in the northwest corner of the USA. We don’t receive near the year-around rain my state has the reputation for. But we do certainly have a winter with cold rain and snow. In my younger years I fished year around. It was bass fishing during the warmer months of April and ending in October. Then came salmon fishing the rivers during October and November. Then steelhead fishing from December through March, the weather progressively growing nastier with each passing month. But with the exuberance of youth I spiritedly walked through the snow and sleet, and waded and fished in water that occasionally had chunks of ice floating by, never giving the conditions a passing thought. Then it happened. As I grew older, body parts began to grumble, intermittently in the beginning, but slowly growing louder. Finally they reached a point where they yelled, “Enough is enough!” My cowardly body revolted against me! The aches and pains began protest marches up and down my body after a day of walking over hard and uneven river rock and cold temperatures. And my joints enthusiastically screamed their support. Basically, by the time I was in my late 50’s all parts of my body ganged up on me and threatened an all-out strike if I did not agree to stop my winter madness. Until then I did not know the feeling of fishing withdrawal because I was continually chasing one breed of fish or another. When that came to an end, fishing withdrawals became a reality.
I still fish for bass from March through October, which my wife, Maxine, still considers far beyond the quota of hours on the water required of the normal human being. Of course, she was obviously blinded by love not to notice I was not normal to begin with. The first hint should have been recognized when I suggested, without success, that our honeymoon be romantically located at a cabin on my favorite bass lake. I mean, get a clue! But now I am void of fishing from November through February. And, if winter lingers, even March. What is a fishaholic supposed to do to bide his time?
Graciously, the withdrawal doesn’t begin immediately after pushing my boat in the garage for the last time. It leaves me alone for a month or so. But like any addiction it eventually demands a fix. It can begin simply enough. Like the time all family members at the table gave me a surprised glance while I was praying over our Thanksgiving meal with an ending of, “and I would really appreciate a warm early spring so the bass start biting ahead of schedule.”
“Hey, it was a slip of the tongue!” I pleaded.
“The longest slip of the tongue I’ve ever heard,” my wife’s sister mumbled.
I never did like her!
And it only grows worse from there….
“You’ve been out here leaning on your boat for two hours!” my wife says. “What are you doing?”
I look up from my blank stare. “I’m making mental notes of what I may change in the way I lay out my fishing gear.”
“Wha…What?” she replies in disbelief. “You won’t be going fishing for another three months!”
“You can’t begin planning any time too early,” I smugly reply.
As she closed the door, she gave me her well-rehearsed eye-ball roll and tired sigh.
She didn’t realize I was subconsciously appeasing my addiction. And it only grows worse!
I also pour my own plastic worms. But within a month I have a supply of plastics in every size and color imaginable, and in quantities adequate enough to stock a sporting goods store. And three-quarters of the colors I made I’ll realistically never use.
Finally I regress to spooling my reels with new line that do not need replacing, tying lures on my fishing rods that will most likely be changed many times over before ever seeing water. And, finally, actually climbing in my boat while it’s on the trailer, in the garage.
“Oh my Lord,” my wife groans. “What are you doing sitting in your boat?”
“Aaahhh,” I stammer, feeling like an alcoholic caught with a drink to his lips. “I think my pedestal seat needs readjusting, and I’m trying it out.”
“Then why are you holding a fishing pole and staring off into la la land?”
Small wisps of smoke appear about my ears as my brain begins blowing fuses in an attempt to come up with a logical response.
“Well at least close the garage door!” she pleads. “Ever since you were seen casting your pole in the front yard, the neighbors already think I’m married to a nut case!”
Suddenly Sarah Thomas from up the street walks by with her children in tow. Giving me a nervous glance, she protectively herds them to the other side of the street.
“Hi Sarah,” Maxine says with a humiliated smile and wave. “Dear Lord, here comes another women’s pinnacle party of pitiful looks,” she mumbles. “Now close the damned garage door!”
Hey, my thoughts concerning the matter is Maxine ignored her better judgment and married me to begin with. So it is only fitting and proper that she be supportive in my fishing withdrawal. I mean I was by her side when she went through labor and gave birth to our first child. Well, I would have been by her side if after getting the call at work that my wife was on her way to the hospital, I would have driven to the right hospital. But that’s beside the point. My intentions were supportive.
But finally her embarrassment ends with the coming of another spring. Okay, my Thanksgiving prayer was not answered for an early spring, but the boat is finally coming out of the garage and gleefully being towed to a lake. Maxine breathes a sigh of relief. Once more life is good….Until next winter. And then the fishing withdrawal and my wife’s humiliations all begins again….