Gone Fishing, I wish… by Maggie Millus

The wind is blowing today. That means no fishing. We’re not going to take the Whaler out. We’re going to stay home and go nuts.

We stay in when the wind is blowing 15 miles an hour or more. Fewer black and blue marks that way. Getting knocked against the gunnels is rough on thighs. And then there’s always the chance you’ll get impaled on something.

I don’t mind staying home on a day of very bad weather, but there’s a “Him” factor here.   The “Him” factor? That’s when a certain somebody in my household loses his mind because he can’t fish. Fishing is the antidepressant to his forlorn misery of boredom. There is no other cure. Only calmer seas, lost bait, and big bucks poured into that infinite hole in the ocean called a boat.

Terminal boredom, that’s what I call it. Why? Because it can kill you. And I know. There’s a great big chasm of boredom that runs right through my living room when we’re not fishing. Fall down in it and there’s no way out. You just drown in the repercussions of not fishing.   It usually begins like this:

“What are you looking for?” I say.

“Nothing,” he replies as he digs about harder and harder.

“Well, why are you going from closet to closet, room to room, and drawer to drawer? And who’s going to clean up that mess you left on the counter and on the floor?”



“Well, what?”

“What exactly are you trying to find?”

I don’t know why I ask.

“I’m looking for my Magic Tuna Killer.”

“It’s on the boat.”

“Well, what’s it doing there?”

“You left it there.”

There are other things he could do in the meanwhile. He has the time, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to do them. He could repair the leaking bathroom faucet. But then he’d have to replace the plumbing, and worse yet, the moldy, squishy wallboard underneath.

More silence.

I really hate it when a man is silent. When this one won’t answer a question or when he answers a question with a question, it’s like it’s a purposeful evasion based on a lack of commitment.

Two hours later and he’s finally busy. But busy at what? No matter. At least it’s something. I see he’s In the dining room. He’s stuffing Ballyhoo or “rigging bait” as he calls it.

He does this on our dining room table. When he’s in the mood and after we’ve lost all the bait on the last fishing trip

Dead ballyhoo bodies float in a big, briny bowl of water. Their silver scaliness reflects the dining room light. I have to feel sorry for this fish with its humongous underbite. “Underbite” because it’s mouth has a congenital exaggeration…a short upper beak and an extremely long lower beak. This fish needs braces!

I’m distracted by the saline slosh of the smelly water onto the embroidered tablecloth. I wonder, does Martha Stewart stuff ballyhoo on her dining room table? And how does she remove the smell?

“Boy that’s a lot of Ballyhoo,” I tell him . Wires and hooks are everywhere. Big blind eyes beg and plead. No help here for you fish. No help from any one. No fish deserves an undignified end like this. Oh well, it could be worse. We could drag it through the water live. Nothing like watching some voracious carnivore bite off your behind.

Ballyhoo eyes and shiny bellies float… waiting… Then he runs the wires and hooks run through their guts and heads. Deliberate, calculated surgery being done here. But no survivors. Not that they were alive when he started.

I ask, “Why do you rig it that way?”

“Because bait rigging is an art.”

Smart ass. All he had to say was it prevents another fish from coming up and biting off his catch.

“Hand me….”

“Nope,” I say.

I don’t even know what he wants. If I don’t help him rig ballyhoo, then maybe he’ll stay busy a little longer. Busy. At something.  I may fish, I may drive the boat, and I may even clean fish, but I don’t do bait.

But I will eat the fish we catch.



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