About two weeks into the first “test drives” of my website, lakedarbonnelife.com, in late 2012, two friends tried to help me spread the word by sending emails to all their friends and people who owed them money trying to help me boost my early readership. They provided morale and financial support. Both encouraged me to keep going and one even bought me a Dr. Pepper with his own money. Meet Tommy Carpenter and Walter Hull.
I was able to “pay them back” last week by letting them go fishing with me at a special chain of private lakes called Lake Mulligan North and Lake Mulligan South. In golf, a mulligan is a stroke replayed without penalty. So in this case, if we made a bad cast or messed up bait, we just took a mulligan. I do need to point out that this practice is disallowed entirely in real sports by strict rules and players/fishermen who attempt to let it happen may be disqualified from sanctioned competitions. But Walter needs lots of Mulligans.
Back to fishing. These lakes are not fished very often and you have to get special permission from the owner to be there. It’s an environmentally pristine area and some people regularly pay some sort of premium called a “green fee” just for the privilege of riding up and down the property by the lakes. Tommy must be doing very well with this financial endeavor, because he is able to afford a very fancy fishing hat!
Just hours before we were to go fishing, the area around the lakes were blessed with 2.9 inches of rain and a 30-minute golf-ball sized hail storm. No big deal. Every time I go fishing with Walter, I have hail to pay. Now if these lakes were on a grass farm or something, the rain would have probably been beneficial, but as far as helping the fishing, well, the rainfall pushed the lakes well out of their banks and made it challenging to say the least, even for expert fishermen like us.
We tried North Mulligan first, we couldn’t get anywhere near the “natural” bank. There was 30-feet or more of shallow floodwater all around it. We tried a few long casts, but had no luck. Then we tried the deeper banked South Mulligan. We had to make the two-mile walk across the recently soaked preserve because even though Tommy has many four-wheelers, he did not want to tear up the fishing paths he carefully constructed between the two lakes. Despite working there every day, Tommy hasn’t fished in years. When I caught a big green perch on one of my first casts, I coerced him to take a mini-cast and cricket and give it a try. He did. And he caught his share of fish. Back at the “landing”, somebody pointed out that were the first fish Tommy had caught this Century. By the way, “green perch” are a type of sunfish with a black dot on their gill plate, a big mouth like a goggle-eye and distinctive yellow tips on the tips of their fins and tail that make them look like some kind of peacock bream from the Amazon (the South American rainforest, not the Bookstore).
Of course, there were a couple of good-natured bets. The last one to catch fish had to buy lunch. And the one who caught the least had to carry the fish back across the preserve to the truck. Somehow it must have ended up as a tie. Could be that h caught the most big bream, but you’ll never read that here. In the end, there was no lunch bought for anybody that I’m aware of. I’m not sure, but I believe several mulligans were involved there.
The fishing was great, despite the conditions. There were some whopper bream caught and some smaller ones even bit that would have been caught had they been big enough to get the cricket in their mouth. The joking and story-telling made the trip worthwhile, had we not even gotten a bite.
As we were about to leave, Tommy said with a grin, “I haven’t had this much fun in a while.” Then he added, rather astutely, “I guess if this is the most fun I’ve had in a while, that’s kind of sad.”
I think the answer is simple: He just needs to fish more and work less. And I’m proud to say I have already been working to set a positive example for him in this regard.
I might even get another Dr. Pepper out of the deal. Hey, what are friends for?