We headed out early on the jon boat, the night’s dew still clinging to the metal surfaces. It was cold. Fog rose from the calm lake; our boat was the only disturbance as far as the eye could see. Lucas was the guide at the back, Mark was at the trolling motor in the front; I was in the middle. One of these days I’ll learn how to operate boat motors… until then, I sit in the middle. We tossed juicy nightcrawlers on little hooks into the deep, clear water. Sometimes a bluegill came up and took the bait, other times they cleaned the hook. I stubbornly threw tube jigs into the depths hoping to find a smallmouth bass. There was no surface activity besides the splashes of our hooks and weights plunking into the water. The only sound was a distant loon and a constant stream of dirty jokes, mostly coming from my mouth. We tried a few spots with some success– Mark got the first bass of the trip on nightcrawlers bounced through the water. Eventually we made our way to some serious structure– a bunch of sunken logs (or something) where there always seemed to be fish, year after year. Sure enough, after heaving my heavily-weighted green tube jig into the structure, I felt the tell-tale headshakes of a smallmouth bass. Not a small one either. I think it jumped a few times; everybody stopped fishing and watched the fight.
Somebody said “Don’t horse’em in!” Instead of heaving the fish immediately in the boat, I hesitated, and that gave the fish a chance to spit out the tube and disappear. My hand was inches from the fish when the hook came out– it was so close.
“@%$#!!!” I said. It was a nice fish.
We kept fishing the structure looking for more. The wind picked up and we didn’t have an anchor, so we brought the boat into shallow water so we could hop out and fish. IPH0218 Some bluegills were caught, but no more smallies appeared.
We got back in the boat and started heading back to the cabin when the motor stopped suddenly. Lucas tried to start it again, but it made it’s decision and wasn’t going to change it’s mind… it wasn’t going to start.
I manned the trolling motor (a big step up I think), Luke worked on the outboard, and Mark fished as we slowly made our way north against the wind and the waves.
Our engine was dead and we were stranded; our only hope for survival was catching enough fish to eat. At the rate things were going we wouldn’t last long on the 3 inch bluegills we were catching. The other option was to text for help.
Quite some time later, a pontoon boat loaded with friends appeared on the horizon, coming to the rescue. The jon boat was tied to the pontoon boat, we hopped on board, and made the slow trip back to the cabin.

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