Could fishing be the solution to all world problems?
I hadn’t visited with my old Waukesha North buddies Jim Crowley and Chris Armstrong since our 20-year reunion back in 2010. The lack of contact was not intentional, just how things seem to play out when dads forfeit their “me time” for the families they now have and the sports their kids play.
“Wherever you want to go Durbs,” Armstrong said. “It will just be nice to get out.”
Back in high school, the boat would have had snacks that had far more carbs, and beverages that were more fermented, but this time – perhaps due to age, and maybe a little more smarts – jerky, vitamin water and almonds were on the menu.
Oh, how times change.
Crowley and his wife, Tracy (also a former Waukesha Northstar), and kids Jack, 15, and Ella, 13, live in Madison, just a few doors down from Armstrong and his wife, Tamra, and kids Jordan, 15, Mason, 13, and Molly, 11.
Our lives now are far more complicated than they were back then, when the main concerns of the week were if we could get to McDonald’s and back before the lunch-hour period was over, or whose parents were gone for the weekend.
We pulled up off Rocky Point hoping that we might find a few smallmouths and maybe even a shot for Armstrong to get a muskie. The smallmouths weren’t around but Army did have a little luck with muskies.
“One’s following,” he said. “He’s still following.”
The muskie engaged, but it didn’t fully commit, and sank beneath Armstrong’s bait. Still, many people consider it a victory just to see one of those fish.
We moved shallower into the bay in search of some bass. The lake had not seen great weed growth so far this summer, so if we could find any good weeds, I was confident they’d hold fish. We were using a variety of baits: tubes, wacky rigs, and spinners. All of them ended up working.
I hooked up first, and the rest of the guys followed up.
But the thing is, the fishing was a byproduct of the day. The conversation was the meat on the plate, and it zigged and zagged from politics, football games, parties, and idiotic events we had all participated in when we were younger.
The only thing missing is that we didn’t have ’80s music blasting because I didn’t want to scare away the fish we were casting for, as they were in very shallow water.
“I don’t think I’ve ever caught this many bass in one trip,” Crowley said.
Bass after bass hit, with each of us eclipsing the double-digit mark. Nothing was huge, but it seemed as though each fish reminded us of a story from 25-plus years ago.
What made it even better was that we were all playing hookie from work, much like we did on occasion when we’d all bail out of school for a day and rent boats on Lake Beulah. To say it was nostalgic would be an understatement.
We volleyed back and forth about Trump, Pelosi, Schumer, the economy, religion, sports – but we did so with courtesy, not fury. We had muddled and sometimes contrasting thoughts on all of the above, but we did so without a protest. We did so without offending or abusing the person who didn’t have our own beliefs.
Too bad the left and right can’t share a day on Pewaukee Lake. The world might be far more civilized.