Under the Open Sky: It’s a Tough Job

All Tired Out: Chasing After the Elusive Tiger Musky Is Hard Work
By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle
I’m guessing I was one of the few who welcomed Saturday’s misty, rain-filled morning. I had had a rough work week and was grateful for the rest that the rain was going to give me.

As I stood on my front porch, cradled an over-sized cup of hot coffee in my hands and I listened to the soft patter of the rain on the porch roof, I still carried a half-smile of contentment on my lips even while my body ached with the deep, but satisfying reminder of the previous day’s long hours of hard labor.

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

The heart of my work week started Thursday afternoon when I picked up my 8-year-old granddaughter, Emma, and we set off for the Sunbird Shopping Center to get her some fishing gear.

All of my old fishing partners have grown up and fled the nest. It’s time for me to hook another one into hanging out at Swofford with me.

Charles McElroy in the sporting goods department (and one of my fishing report sources) set us up with everything she needed to get started fishing except the worms. I had confidence in his ability to choose for us and all I had to do was make sure she liked the color of the rod (black with flecks of blue) and she looked cute in her fishing glasses.

I’ve never paid much attention to the gear I carry to the water; I just fish with whatever is handy or whatever my outdoorsman son tells me I need.

When the kids were small, I carried an elegant little 3-foot ultralight rod and spinning reel with me that I called “The Bug.” When I saw one just like it the other day over at Fish Country in Ethel, my mind immediately flashed back to the long hours we spent on the shores of Swofford Pond many years ago.

I liked my little rod because it was easy to maneuver without worrying about it getting stepped on or poking somebody’s eye out (a great fear of mothers everywhere) when I had to set it down to untangle one or the other boys’ line. Even when they got big enough to untangle their own messes I still hung on to that little Bug.

Today I carry longer rods and have a few more choices in gear, but not too much more. I like to keep it simple.

And I may be a fisherman, but I’m still a woman. I’m more concerned about my fishing gear and tackle box being color coordinated and stylish than I am about them being useful. I’m glad my son makes sure that it’s both and won’t let me buy something just because it’s pretty.

Musky Hunter
When I arrived home that evening I had an email from Mark Wells, the director for the upcoming Mayfield Open Tiger Musky Tournament and my source for today’s feature story. He said he was going to hit the lake the next day and asked if I was interested in joining him.

Was I ever.

I was so wound up with excitement that night I couldn’t settle down. I was feeling like that little boy in the Disneyland commercial who says, “But I’m too excited to sleep!”

The next day dawned so bright and so blue that I could hardly concentrate on the work that I needed to get done and out the door before I could get out there too, but I made it just in time to get in a couple of hours of musky hunting before Mark had to leave for work.

When his boat pulled up at the dock I nearly keeled over, it was a bright red sparkly bass boat — my favorite. We strapped on life preservers and took off at top speed across the lake, heading for a spot he thought might yield a good-sized tiger musky and I held onto my hat.

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

We didn’t catch a musky, though I think I may have seen the shadow of one moving through the water.

I would have stayed there all day, if I could, but it’s probably just as well that I didn’t.

Saturday morning my arms were sore from hurdling that heavy lure and line out into the water looking for a lunker.

I was looking out into the rain, but I couldn’t see it. I was standing under an open sky, riding the waves as I stood on the deck of my house, replaying the days fishing in my mind.

Yeah, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.
Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer who enjoys watching and photographing the wildlife in her own backyard in Cinebar.  Contact her via email at kz@tds.net.

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