A Fishing Story

Apr 18, 2019

I knew it was a good fish the minute I set the hook. What I didn’t know was this fish was going to become the fish I’d wish had gotten away. Certainly not my largest fish, but the one I’ll remember for a very long time.

As I maneuvered the fish toward the dock, my fishing companion shouted encouragement: “that’s a good fish.”

And I kept cranking. And realized I had the first of what turned into a series of problems.

The rod I’d picked up at the boathouse didn’t have enough drag to actually lift the fish. Plenty to control it, but not nearly enough to hoist it out of the water. I decided to just walk the fish down to the docks where I could get it at water level inside an empty boat well.

The fish was cooperating, so I was already celebrating my catch as I walked down the dock.

At this point, I’ll pause my fish story to offer some advice on fishing in the dark: if you’re not certain where you’re going - stop.

Now, back to the action…I’d glanced into the boat well where I hoped to land my “good fish” and noticed steps right down to the water. Not noticing they weren’t the full width of the boat well..not good. What should have been a short first step turned into the realization there weren’t any steps where I was.

Suddenly, it became debatable as to who was landing whom -because “my fish” had to dodge me as I abruptly joined him in the icy cold south Georgia water.

Fortunately (for the fish) my landing was stopped -abruptly- by the docking rail he’d ducked under. Unfortunately, (for me) same docking rail made a lasting impression on the right side of my rib cage. And I found myself in the water, unable to breathe, struggling to get to my feet and realizing that something was very wrong on my right side.

“Jim, Jim are you OK,” was the frantic call from my fishing partner. Instead of talking, I waved weakly, trying to get upright. Then I realized “my bass” was about to swim away with his trophy: the rod and reel. So, back in the water I flopped, grabbing the rod and hoisting my bass almost to waist level- just high enough to unhook and release him.

Don’t ask him, but I’d had more than enough excitement for the evening. Then, with a little help, I clambered out of the water, back onto the dock, and up to my room where I changed my sopping clothes for dry ones and crawled into the bed.

That’s when I realized I wasn’t hurt…I was injured. The next morning, unable to get out of bed, I called for help. A trip to the local hospital discovered my pratfall had fractured four ribs.

There’s a reason I’m sharing a story I’d really prefer to keep quiet - and it’s not sympathy.

It’s to explain why you haven’t seen any anything from me for the past week. I’ve been trying to heal- and painkillers, muscle relaxers and an inability to sit up straight haven’t encouraged coherence, much less creativity.

Fortunately, sentences are finally starting to string together. Because the second major event for the industry this year- the NRA’s Annual Meetings and Exhibits - are next week in Indianapolis. Can’t imagine missing them -especially this year (more on that next week).

Tomorrow, however, you won’t be seeing any editions of our wires in your mailbox. In observance of Good Friday and the Easter holiday, we’re giving everyone time off for families.

I hope you’ll have the same opportunity to spend the Easter with family -and you’ll take a few minutes to reflect on the fact that Easter is about a lot more than hiding candy eggs or Easter baskets.

Have a great Easter. We’ll keep you posted.

—Jim Shepherd