Lee Stokes: Maybe not the right fish, but a big one

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Lee Stokes: Maybe not the right fish, but a big one

Published Sunday, February 17, 2013   |  662 Words  |  

When Jerry Nelson called to do a bit of striper fishing, I was five minutes from the front door and sitting on ready.

Our plans soon changed due to a gasket failure, so we had breakfast while repairs were being performed on his vehicle. The repairs took awhile, and as we were halfway from nowhere and in between here and someplace else, there was little else we could do but wait.

Sitting over a plate of grits, warm biscuits and sunny side eggs just kinda felt natural; It was a scene we had shared many times over the years. Unfortunately, times such as these open old wounds and contested trips of the past.

Jerry and I compete on just about everything. It's our nature. We always have and most likely always will. We wager on anything. For the most part, I choose the opposite team, the worst player or anything unlikely just to see his eyebrows raise and his face turn red.

There will always be one event that to this day remains unresolved ...

A bass tournament many years ago marked our first introduction. After a few hours, I decided this was not my day -- until the water exploded. I had missed the strike, so it seemed. As I was taking up slack line, I was yanked to the side of the boat. Thinking I had gotten snagged and the drift of the boat was the culprit, I reeled line. Only it did not move, nor did the boat -- for a while.

Against the tide the boat moved sideways, my line pulled tight, I loosened the drag and moved to the bow. This tug of war lasted 30 minutes and finally a large fin broke the surface. I don't recall much from this point, but when the shakes stopped, I had boated a 36-pound striper.

At weigh-in it was the largest fish, but since it was not a largemouth bass, it was not eligible for weigh-in. I didn't argue the point and resigned myself to the snide remarks and ridicule from Jerry and the others. Most of the quips had to do with me not being able to distinguish one fish from another, that they had pictures of what a largemouth bass looked like if I needed help.

All the while, I waited. When points were given and cash distributed, I reminded the committee of another little matter -- the big fish prize.

Most tournaments involve a side bet between participants as to who will catch the largest or the most fish. This is separate of the tournament and is a friendly bit of barter between those who lay claim to being just a bit higher on the totem than others.

As it turned out, I did in fact catch the largest fish, since their was no definition given to what qualified. I may not have gotten points or placed in the big money, but my little Calcutta -- bets put into a pool for distribution, according to a prearranged scale of percentages, to selected winners -- financed my next three tournament entry fees.

Jerry still claims it ain't right, and to this I say: But it's fair.

By the way, I did pay for his breakfast, red face and all.

Boating Course

Hilton Head Sail & Power Squadron will be hosting safe boating courses March 23 and 30 at 405 Squire Pope Road on Hilton Head Island.

The course covers boat handling, seamanship, equipment, navigation aids, radio use, and more. An optional on-the-water training activity is available.

For a course description, go to www.hhsps.org, or contact Leslie Gilroy at 843-785-8876 or leslie_gilroy@yahoo.com.