When I woke up, the last of the campers were leaving general swim to get ready for their various clubs before dinner. I reluctantly opened my eyes. My son was still sound asleep, bundled up, on my lap. My neck was killing as I had done the ‘sleeping head bob’ for the last forty minutes while snoozing. The girls got up from their towels and went down to the shallow end of the water and quietly played in the sand.
I sat, attempted to stretch out my neck, and watched. The lake water was fairly calm, and the noise was minimal. For this moment, the beach was a place of peace…but not for long. I knew that the Navy Seals club would be there soon.
Daughter One gently tapped my shoulder. “Mum?” She whispered in my ear. “What do you want to do now?”
Truth be told? An hour with a masseuse would have been greatly appreciated!
“I dunno. What would you like to do?”
“Can we join the fishing club today?” She asked immediately. My son, hearing our voices, began to stir.
“I guess so….” I was a little apprehensive after our last fishing incident.
“But this time we will try to catch fish!” It was like she had read my thoughts!
“Who’s up for the fishing club?” I asked.
“Me!” Daughter Two responded and immediately dropped the shovel in her hand and came running towards me. I guess she had recovered from our previous fishing disaster.
“Me,” my son responded as he wiped the drool from his cheek, rubbed his eyes and yawned.
We packed up and moved out. As we walked up the driveway the Navy Seals came jogging down past us singing in cadence. We stopped to listen. It was highly entertaining.
“I had a dog, his name was blue. Blue say he wanna be a Seal too. So I bought him a mask and four tiny fins. I took him to the ocean and I threw him in. Blue came back, to my surprise, with a shark in his mouth and a gleam in his eyes!”
We headed towards the boat house to get some fishing rods. As we passed by the sailing dock we saw the boating club unfurling the bright colorful mainsail of the Lazer. One of the kids was barking out orders as they pulled on the line and they all attempted to avoid being hit by the boom as it lazily swung around. One of the smaller campers was busy bailing out the boat with what looked to be a re purposed bleach bottle.
We popped into the boat house but didn’t find any fishing rods that were not hopelessly tangled. The only ‘rod’ that was not tangled was a home made one that had been fashioned out of a foot long piece of wood. Fishing line had been threaded through a hole drilled into it, tied off, and then wrapped around the the end of it. There was a small fishing hook attached. It reminded me of something you might see Huckleberry Finn sporting. Pretty basic, but it would do, I figured. My girls looked at me skeptically.
“It doesn’t have to be fancy to work! Let’s try it.” My son happily took it. The girls shook their heads in disgust and followed me out towards the fishing dock.
When we arrived at the dock, there were about twelve campers. They were all lying out on their towels resting or chatting. Several fishing rods were lined up along the diving board, but no one was fishing. I was confused.
“Is this the fishing club?” I asked Mikey who was sitting on the diving board talking to one of the LIT 2’s, Marty.
“Oh ya. That’s us.”
“Can we join you?”
“Absolutely! Did you want to fish?”
“This IS the fishing club, right?” I asked again as I indicated the campers chilling on the dock.
“Oh ya. Oh ya. We are the fishing club. And we usually do fish for the first meeting or two. Then when we don’t manage to catch anything, we seem to transform into the tanning club.” Mikey nodded towards the group. “Help yourself to the fishing rods here, and the bait is some left-over chicken in the bowl there.”
We gingerly stepped over and around the resting ‘fishermen’ and found a couple of rods. My son decided he would give the home-made fishing rod a try. The kids each put a piece of chicken on their hooks. My son’s piece of chicken was quite large and hung very precariously off the hook. I didn’t bother to fix it. Who cared?
I set the kids up about ten feet apart from each other. My son was attempting to cast…poorly, I might add, so I had to reign him in. I didn’t want anyone to lose an eyeball.
The three of them seemed to enjoy their fishing. There were plenty of pike, sunfish and small mouth bass who made passes at their bait. They reloaded as needed. They threw their lines in and reeled them up. They lay flat on the dock as they watched the watery world below. Meanwhile the fishing club (or more accurately the napping club) continued to sun bathe and doze.
I was considering wrapping it up as I needed to get the medications out prior to dinner, when my son, who was distracted as he stood looking off into the distance singing softly “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” felt a tug on his line. He let out a squeal.
My eldest daughter put her reel down and came to his aide. She grabbed hold of the pole as the fishing line pulled taut. The two giggled as they struggled to hold on. Daughter Two and I looked into the water to see what they had caught. I was pretty sure he was probably caught on the dock itself, but I could not see what it was.
“Do you see anything?” I asked. My daughter shook her head.
“Whatever it is, it’s swam under the dock, so I can’t see it.”
“Let me help.” I said to the kids and carefully grabbed hold of the fishing rod and started to turn it over in my hands in order to reel it in. There was no reeling mechanism on it, so turning it over was the only means to reel in the line. It was a bit of a struggle. I wondered if he had managed to get caught on a small branch in the water. At this point, Mikey came over to investigate and offered to lend a hand.
“I think we are caught on a branch.” I said.
Mikey peered over the dock and into the water.
“Do you see anything?”
“Nope.” Then he lay flat on his belly and looked under the dock as best as he could. “You’ve stirred up a lot of mud under the dock, so I can’t see a thing. Just keep reeling it in.” He instructed me as he grabbed hold of the line and attempted to pull it free.
Just as I had suspected, my son had likely caught his hook on a branch lying at the bottom of the lake. As I was pulling it to the surface, I was disturbing the muddy bottom. I kept reeling in the line as best as I could. By now some of the campers were becoming interested. A couple of them were peering over the opposite side of the dock to see if they could detect anything. One of the campers grabbed the fishing net and plunged it into the water and swung it back and forth.
“Maybe you caught the lake monster,” the camper mused.
“There is a lake monster?” My son asked, looking rather terrified.
“No. There are no lake monsters. Don’t worry.” I reassured him. He didn’t look entirely convinced.
“I bet it’s Sheldon,” Mikey said as he continued to help me reel in the line.
“Sheldon? The turtle?” Another camper asked.
“Yup. Sheldon.” Mikey answered. “Bring the net closer here buddy.” The camper with the net stepped over to Mikey. Whatever it was was coming close to the surface now. Maybe it wasn’t a branch after all?
“I was right. It’s Sheldon.” Mikey stated as he jumped up and grabbed the net from the camper.
At this point, all the campers were on their feet surrounding Mikey shouting encouragement and trying to get a look. Mikey got the net under the turtle and scooped him out of the water. With much hollering and screeching, the campers backed out of the way as Mikey swung the net onto the dock. Sure enough we had caught a turtle. He was a foot and a half long snapping turtle. The hook was caught on his lip. Mikey held the net tightly as the turtle clumsily thrashed about.
“Grab the scissors, Marty. We need to cut this line to free him.” Mikey shouted. Marty ran to the tackle box by the diving board and riffled around in it for a couple of seconds before he found them and brought them back. The turtle thrashed a few more times as the crowd oohed and aahed. Then, with one big, flick of his head, the hook came free. I grabbed the line with my hand and quickly reeled in the slack. No need to cut him free now. We all crowded around the net and had a good long look at Sheldon.
“Why does he have a yellow marking on his back,” a camper asked.
“This guy gets caught all the time, so one of the cottagers painted a big yellow stripe on his back so he would be easy to spot.” Mikey explained. “It didn’t really work this time though, did it?” We all laughed.
“OK. Time to release him, guys. The dinner bell is going to ring soon. Has everybody had a good look?”
“Yessss,” the fishing club members answered as they moved out of the way.
Mikey gently dragged the net over to the edge of the dock and then quickly turned it over. It took a bit of maneuvering before we managed to shake Sheldon’s legs and tail out of the net. He landed with a big splash into the lake and quickly disappeared as he swam into the dark inky depths of the water.
“You are some fisherman!” I patted my son on the head. “First, your sister, and then Sheldon.” He offered me a chagrined smile.