It was 6:15 a.m. and fairly cool for midsummer. Normally it would be too early for my liking, but this was no ordinary day. For a week, Jestin, Cody, Ryan, Jordan and I had been planning this highlight fishing trip of the summer. Jestin had been regaling us with stories of his success at Diamond Bar Lake and after a summer of bad fishing this trip was our light at the end of the tunnel.
Jordan and I ate chocolate ice cream as we impatiently waited for the other three. Jestin was next to show up in his red pickup, which had a small boat hanging over the tailgate. Then came Ryan with his truck and loaded boat trailer. Last, as expected, was Cody, who had slept in. We were ready but little did we know that we had somehow invoked the wrath of the fishing gods.
When we arrived we were at a loss as to where we should launch our boats. Mysteriously, the lake had changed shape since Jestin had last visited and we had to dock in a small arm of the lake. Because I lost in Rock, Paper, Scissors, I was assigned to Jestin’s trolling motor-powered boat while Ryan, Cody and Jordan reclined in the cushioned seats of Ryan’s gas-powered boat.
As we made our way to the main area of the lake we encountered a problem: the small arm was cut off from the main lake by a formidable wall of cattails. Jestin and I found ourselves waist deep as we pulled the boats by a rope through the dense growth as if we were serving under Lewis and Clark. In contrast to the Corps of Discovery, however, what we found at the end of our journey was anything but pacific.
Foreboding white caps broke the surface, but being able fishermen, no fear entered our brave hearts. Once in open water, Ryan’s gas-powered beast left our puny trolling motor in its wake. Coincidentally, they had the worms and the tackle.
After what seemed like days, we reached our “friends” in the middle of the lake. They, too, had caught nothing but weeds so we decided to take a lunch break. We lashed our boats together so the wind wouldn’t pull us apart and Cody entertained us by lighting Saturn rockets as we munched on Doritos. While the others were captivated by the pyrotechnics, I noticed something curious - the other boat seemed to be getting further away. Being inquisitive, I stood up to investigate and I watched as the rope continually went slack and then became taut. Something wasn’t right. Then a quick jerk wrenched the boat and time seemed to stand still as I felt myself fall back and plunge into the icy waters. I resurfaced to raucous laughter and climbed back in the boat, shivering and cursing.
After disassembling my wallet and cell phone to let them dry, I watched the others fruitlessly try to fish. After an hour more of “fishing,” we decided to surrender. We headed back through the cattails with our tails between our legs. Mother Nature had whipped us and we knew it. Pulling the boats to the beach, we found both pickups had dead batteries. Betrayed by both nature and technology, we had to turn to human ingenuity. We finally used the boat batteries to start the pickups, and were ready to leave that God-forsaken place. With lips hopelessly soiled from our words, we took to the road without a fish to our collective names. At home our only possessions were broken pride and a story about the fish that never even had a chance to get away.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.