Start Bailin’

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Milt and I push his small rowboat into the lake’s calm waters on a sunny, early morning.  Fishin’ is absolutely on our minds.

Milt’s boat has stood the test of time, and she definitely looks it.  There are patches here and there, scrapped and worn paint, and even some mismatched planking on the floor.

Rowing the boat far from shore, we arrive at the very best place to fish the lake.  The deep water covers the territory with the biggest fish around.

We both become quite involved with our fishin’ as we cast again and again, hoping to catch the big one.  We fail to notice the threatening skies above.  A mother-of-all thunderstorms appears heading for the lake, and we sit directly in the crosshairs of its vicious aim.

Before we can even think about rowing back to the safety of the shore, Milt and I feel the tiny craft being engulfed by the torrents of rain and the white caps of the charging waves.

Our clothes and fishin’ tackle become soaking wet in a few short minutes, and then the boat begins to list to the starboard side.  She’s taking on water much too quickly.

Looking more anxious by the second, Milt shouts out, “Start bailin’ now!”

Watching my tackle box floating away, I yell back, “With what?”

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Experience Counts

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Traveling back to Montana, Phil and Phyllis arrive from back East.  They’ve brought their teenage grandson along to fish the Gallatin River.

Staying at the Rainbow Ranch, they plan to fly fish right along the river, which runs along the property.  The Ranch employs a fishing guide during the summer months.  Bert knows all of the best spots to fish on the Gallatin, and he is always bragging about his fishing prowess.  As he always reminds people, “experience counts.”

Complaining under his breath, Bert takes the trio of fishing pilgrims to the river.  He always frowns upon city folks who come out to the Gallatin to fish.  All novices . . . they have no clue about fishing a river.

Bert sets up Phil and his grandson, and they begin making tentative casts on to the river.  Each has fished very little, and their inexperience offers a bit of amusement to Bert.

Meanwhile, Phyllis moves down the river a few paces from Bert.  She shouts out to Bert, “I wonder who will catch the first fish?”

Bert replies, “A piece of ‘rainbow trout’ cake my dear!”

Bert begins to cast several times with little luck, not even a bite.  He glances down the river bank at Phyllis, and reminds himself he has plenty of time to catch the “first” fish.

Phyllis spies a perfect hole in front of two rocks.  She casts her line perfectly into her chosen spot.  Hmm, Bert didn’t even see her awesome cast because he is too busy with his own fishing.

Strike!

Phyllis’ line goes taut.  She has a “granddaddy” rainbow trout hooked on her line.

Bert looks over at her with dismay.  Phyllis laughs and continues reeling in her prize catch.  Calling over to Bert, she shouts, “Experience counts, you know.”

As she lands a hefty, beautiful rainbow trout in the tall grass along the river bank, she tells Bert more of her story, “I fished these same waters years ago as a little girl.  My daddy taught me well.  I practically grew up on this river.”

Bert realizes he has been had.  If he does catch a trout today, it will likely taste more like crow.