KEVIN TATE: Quality of fishing is in the mind of the beholder

By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer

That morning, the local TV weatherman said the fishing calendar called for a “Poor” day and, in some ways, he may have been right, but there’s more to any story than what’s on the end of the line.
The Old Men and I were headed to the water, dire forecasts notwithstanding. The summer skies were clear and there was no rain on the horizon.
At the time we were fishing several days a week out of Young’s Landing at Grenada Lake, and we were nearly to Okolona before someone remembered the trolling motor battery was still on the charger back home in Brewer. After a quick debate, we went back and got it.
The boat we used was a 16-foot aluminum number with a square bow, and with three occupants and as many ice chests, it was both heavy in the water and easily pushed by the wind at the same time. The trolling motor was important to keep it in position for running trotlines and was indispensably handy as long as you kept the hook drops from tangling in the propeller, a tragedy that struck while baiting the first line of the day.
This was after we discovered we’d left the boat paddle at home, and after we’d backed the boat trailer down the ramp with the drain plug out. The paddle was used to pick up trotlines tied a couple feet below water level and we found a suitable stick to serve for that. Only a couple dozen gallons of lake streamed into the boat before we got the plug stuck in, and that was drained by pulling the plug while underway, the rushing water outside pulling the bilge back through the hole like a siphon.
The trotline snarled in the prop, however, was a real headache.
The whirling prop pulled the tangled line through the seam that separated it from the motor’s housing, so to fix it the prop had to be removed, the mangled line untangled or cut away, the remaining two ends of the trotline rejoined and the trolling motor reassembled before operations could resume.
This time, the trolling motor operator finished the last repair, put the motor back together, dropped it over the side to resume fishing, turned the motor on and immediately caught the trotline in the prop again, snarling it worse than ever before.
“This was a poor day for fishing,” one of the Old Men said and, at the time, I couldn’t have agreed more.
Eventually we caught enough fish to prove we’d actually been to the water and made it home without further incident, but the day’s collection of events have remained a benchmark for difficulties ever since. More than the high water mark for struggles, though, I remember the way the Old Men faced them, a lesson in character if ever there was one.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.