Nobody out-fishes my brother Dave. Well, at least none of his siblings. He has one sister and three brothers, I’m the youngest, and to the best of my knowledge, he has never been out-fished ... ever! It doesn’t matter if we are deep sea fishing in Texas, trolling for walleye in North Dakota or spinning for trout in Colorado, somehow, he’ll reel in larger and more fish than any of us. I’m sure his friends would be quick to note that they have caught more fish than he has, but he certainly would not divulge that privileged information to anyone. None of us really know how or why he is able to catch more fish than us, but it’s a well known fact that has made its way around the family dinner table more than a few times. Sometimes odd happenings keep us from out-fishing him, like the time my brother Steve went to North Dakota for a quick vacation. My two brothers were fishing on the Missouri River from a small boat and sure enough, David caught the very first fish. But mysterious forces were at play that day as Steve quickly caught four decent-sized Walleye and put them on the stringer, smugly smiling and enjoying the day. Although it looked like Dave’s streak might be at risk, he nevertheless, albeit grudgingly, agreed it was time to move on. What happened next is the stuff of family lore, or perhaps even fate, but Steve calls it an outright farce! David started the engine, the fish got sucked into the vortex and were quickly chewed up by the prop, save for the last fish on the stringer, which was the first fish caught; David’s. Everyone knows the fishing rule: if you can’t show off your fish or bring them home and eat them, then you didn’t really catch them! David is the only one who brought home a fish, and once again, out-fished one of his brothers. Somehow, some way, he’s able to catch more fish every single time. Every. Dang. Time.
When I was younger, fresh out of school, I had moved to Texas while David remained in Colorado. I visited him often during my summer vacations just so we could go fishing where I naturally assumed I would out-fish him. When we had lived together in Colorado, he had taught me pretty much everything I knew about fishing, and we always enjoyed our time together. As a child, my father had not been very patient with his children when he took us fishing, for some odd reason I never completely understood until I had my own children. After losing many prize lures and countless yards of fishing line to the trees, a few broken poles and slime covered reels, I now completely understand my father’s frustration! But David had taught me plenty of good tips and had been very patient, and so I always looked forward to summer vacations when I could once again repeat my pathetic attempt to out-fish him. I took a few days off from work, grabbed a bag of sunflower seeds, some beef jerky and a couple of cokes for the long ride to Colorado. After some thirty hours I arrived sore and tired but we reminisced most of the evening about my failed attempts to land more fish than him. We hit the sack late, excited and ready for our trip into the mountains the very next day.
We got a late start as we both slept a little too long, but we ate breakfast, packed our equipment and headed west. We stopped at a local grocery store for some essentials. We bought a six-pack of Old German, the cheapest beer we could find, which removed an entire 99 cents out of my brothers’ pocket. I laughed out loud when I read that it was brewed in the fabulously all natural location known for it’s clear, clean running waters: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We put the beer in the trunk and drove farther down the road, eventually linking up with a dirt side road that veered off deeper and higher into the Rocky Mountains. We were heading to our favorite spot to fish for brook trout, known to us as, "Brookies." The route took about two hours to get there and we talked about whatever came to mind. I talked about living in Texas, the heat, the lack of good trout fishing, and he teased me relentlessly on living in the South. He asked silly questions, like, "How many people ride horses to school?" "What do you call a Texan heading north? Smart!" And the final straw was, "How do you get to Texas from here?" I stupidly asked, "How?" He nonchalantly replied, "Well, you head south until you can’t stand it anymore, then you turn left until you step in it!" He laughed at himself over that one, but I still knew I was going to have the last laugh. He had taken me plenty of times to this particular spot in the past, but I had been much younger and immature. I was ready this time. This time, I was going to tarnish his record.
As the road became less of a road and more of a dirt trail, we parked the car and started our hike to the small stream. The clean air and pine smell was a welcome respite from the hot, humid Texas summers, and I was overjoyed at our arrival to the place we knew as "Decker’s." In my excitement I got out of the car and right away told my brother, "I’ll go upstream." In all the other times we had fished together he had always gone upstream, as it gave the angler a natural edge as most of the fish would be facing upstream. Trout swim against the natural current of the water, waiting for food to come to them. So, if you walk upstream, they would face away from you, and if you walked downstream, they would see you before you could even cast your lure. "Sure," he responded. I couldn’t believe my luck! He must have felt sorry for teasing me about living in Texas and realized I no longer had any good opportunities to fish for trout. Hastily, I went upstream while he strolled downstream, and as I rounded my first large rock, I flipped my spinner into the water and immediately had a strike. I reeled in my prize, a nice nine inch, spotted Brook trout. Bright red and pink spots dotted its side and she was a beauty. I forced the stringer through the gills and placed the fish into the water and headed farther up stream.
The temperature was unseasonably warm that day, but the fishing was tremendous. In my haste to out-fish my brother, I lost track of the time. Before I knew it, I glanced at my watch and it was time to meet back up at the camp site. Our prearranged time to get back to the car and compare our catch had passed by ten minutes ago. By the time I got back to the car, the sun was setting and it was a little later than usual. However, David was also late, but I saw him along the river heading toward the car. I put my stringer behind my back, knowing that I had finally won! I had caught the first fish, and every other cast seemed to bring in another fine specimen. I had ten beautiful brook trout on my stringer. David was going to have egg on his face and he would never live down the fact that his little brother, his little Texan brother, had out-fished him. As he struggled back up through the underbrush, I was ready to gloat, ready to insult, ready even to start defending Texas. I picked up my stringer and proudly showed him my ten fish. He smiled and took his stringer off his shoulder, slowly swinging them from behind his back, and showed me his pathetic, trifling catch ... a mere ... fifteen.
He laughed and laughed and told me, "Nobody out-fishes your older brother Dave!" I should have known. He too worked harder than usual, just to beat me, although he would never admit to that. And in that haste, we had made some very tactical errors. We forgot to place the beer in the river to keep it cool. We left it in the trunk of his car, where each can roasted in the heat of the day. As the sun was already behind the tallest peaks, we jumped in the car and headed home. Normally we would have started a quick fire and roasted a couple of those trout for dinner, but we needed to get home quickly before it got too dark. Driving on those small paths was difficult enough in daylight, let alone in the dark. However, we were quite hungry and thirsty. We pulled up to a small log cabin which had a few signs saying they sold provisions. We pooled our money together, his two dollars and my nickle, and he ran into the convenience store. He came running back out and jumped into the car, throwing the paper bag into my lap. We were both famished. I looked hungrily into the bag and saw one solitary bag of Oreo cookies. As I looked over he said, "That’s all the money could buy! He’s the only store around and he jacks up his prices!" We ripped that bag of Oreos apart and dove in. I watched as he stuffed three cookies into his mouth and chewed. He might be able to out-fish me, but I could stuff four cookies into my mouth! The cookies removed any moisture I may have had in my mouth and I was quickly reminded of how parched I truly was. I grabbed a beer and tugged on the pull top. A small amount of foam and spray hit my nostrils and made me even thirstier. All I desired in the world was a nice big gulp of cool, refreshing beer. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about the beer in the trunk predicament, and that’s when it hit me. Hot, foamy beer instantly exploded in my mouth, mixed with bits of half chewed as well as fully chewed Oreo mush. The black and tan concoction exponentially thrust at every corner of my mouth, attempting to escape either all over the front windshield or into my sinus cavities. But I held tight; I would be victorious at least once today. Somehow, a trickle of cookiebeermush went down my gullet as the pressure eased slightly. Eventually I took another swig of that horrendous beer, washed down the last bits of mush and cookie particles. Twenty years later, I still can not eat another Oreo cookie. But the worst thing of all, as I looked over at David hoping for some compassion, he just starred ahead and stuffed five cookies into his mouth.
rjbatty from Irvine on May 30, 2015:
I really enjoyed this. I love reading about real-life adventures -- large and small. It reminded me about a time I went fishing with my uncle who lived in upstate NY. We traveled all day and crossed into Canada. My uncle rented a boat and we went out onto a lake. I baited my line and just waited -- not expecting anything. But, I got a bite. I reeled it in to discover I had only captured a tiny perch. I released it, re-baited my hook, and again just waited. I got another tug. I reeled in my capture just to discover it was the same damn tiny fish I'd just released. Back into the water he went. The third time I got a pull, I was sure of success, and amazingly it was the same tiny perch. He seemed to have some kind of death-wish. After that I just sat back and admired the scenery.