|John and Betsy Roof|
A True Story
by John A. Roof
It was about 1:00 p.m. when Betsy, (my wife, master and boss), informed me that we had an appointment that evening to go look at some furniture someone wanted us to restore for them.
My heart fell to the floor, for it meant I would not be able to go fishing that evening.
On this day of days, the sun was in its perfect position and the moon was a new moon. The day was without doubt one of the best days of the year to go fishing - -that is, if you get to go fishing.
I returned to my workshop to finish working on a table that I had started that morning, feeling forlorn and brokenhearted. As the afternoon progressed, I reached a point on the table where I knew I was going to finish early. I made my plan as if I was going to assault an enemy-held fortress.
At 3:45, I approached my wife, making sure I looked worn out, hot and lost. I made sure I groveled before her and begged, “Please let me go fishing. I promise I'll be back in time to get cleaned up for the appointment.”
Betsy knew I loved to fish and these big Sad Brown Eyes of mine wore her down. She gave her blessing and I was off. I had made a decision to go to Amy’s landing on the San Marcos River.
When I arrived at the river, the wind was blowing out of the northwest. I further decided I would make a few casts in Lowman’s Tank on my way home. The river was a deep emerald green and so clear that you could see if a nickel was heads or tails in three feet of water.
I reached in to the back of the truck, grabbed my rod, checked my bait, put on my wading shoes, walked to the river's edge and removed all my clothes. I fish in the raw, butt naked. I believe this gives you an advantage. You’re showing the fish everything you have.
I looked up river and down river, making sure I was alone so no one would find out my secret -- how I catch so many fish - - the fact that I have two worms is better than one.
After ten minutes of the most perfect peace, I heard a noise approaching from downriver. It was two girls in a canoe counting strokes. They must be practicing for the upcoming canoe race, I thought. (Thank you, ladies, for counting so loud).
This gave me time to retrieve my shorts and not allow them to see my "shortcomings". They turned the canoe around as they reached the bend in the river and then headed back downstream. I was afraid they might return, so I moved to the other side of the log jam so I could see them if they reapproached.
Once I was on the other side of the log jam, I again removed my shorts and made a cast downstream. Just my luck, it went into the darn bait-eating tree. As I was working to remove the bait from the tree, I heard a faint noise approaching from upstream.
This time, it was a man in a small boat with an outboard motor. I made a fast decision. I ran to my shorts, leaving my fishing rod swinging from the tree, and zipped up just in time to get my hand in the air to wave. I was lucky not to get caught doing 'the naked fisherman bait caught in the tree' dance.
At this point, I took a swig of Gatorade and decide there was just too much traffic on the river today, so I had better put on my Speedos. This would allow me to expose as much skin as possible without showing the rest how the river worshipped my fishing secret.
The time was slipping by way too fast, so I gathered my equipment to head towards home. Then at the last minute, I decided I had just enough time to make a few casts at Pa’s Point at Lowman’s Tank.
I again removed all my clothes to get as much sun on my bare buns as I could, walked out onto the point and made a few casts. I was hoping that a big lunker was there and lying in wait, but there was to be no such luck this day.
I gave up and returned to the truck, afraid I would be late and get in trouble with my wife -- but the desire was too strong! I made one last cast. I swung the rod behind me and made the strongest cast I could. The sound I heard was not new. I had heard this sound way too many times and this one was the mother of backlashes! There I was, naked with a bad backlash, and hoping no one would come down the road.
At last, the reel was cleared and I began to reel it in. Oh God, now I’m hung up on the underbrush! I gave a tug and felt the live give. Hmmm, it must have been a small branch -- and then it hit. It was if someone had locked the reel!
“There she blows! ” This fish was trying to fly! Go, baby, GO! The fight was on between the lunker of the deep vs. the naked fisherman, who will win! Then I thought just for a split second, "What if someone comes along and sees me? Well, the heck with them! Let them catch their own lunker!"
After the fight of the century, the fish was in my hands. Wow! It was a big twenty inches and at least four pounds! Nice fish! I smiled as I approached the shore of the Tank to release him back to his kingdom. As I put him in the shallow water, he made a small circle and I swear, he smiled at me and mouthed these words: “Small rod.” and then he was gone.
I laughed all the way home, and I haven’t stopped laughing yet. It was a good day -- I went fishing.
About the Author
Bill the Calf and the Ride Down the Road
The Walk: Short Stories of a Teenage Boy in the 60's
John and his wife, Betsy, live in their home amid the wildflowers and fruit trees in Staples, Texas, where they are accomplished artists and photographers. They also love to build and restore antique furniture together.
He's one of the nicest and most regular guys you'll ever want to meet.
John is fond of saying, he has found his garden ...
"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck