We returned to the Blue Ox Resort, on Lake Bemidji, Minnesota for a family vacation, in 1962. We had a week……of gray, dreary days….cool. It was early June, and the walleye’s seemed to have swum ( is that swim, swam, swum? or swim swam swam?? or ? ) down the river and through the woods……for none were to be found…
This was a trip with my grandparents, Jesse and Alberta, my parents and I ( or is that me?? English, being my sole language has often been foreign to me…) One early afternoon, we, dad, grandpa and me, were trolling around the lake…..a long way around the lake….I was running the motor and just trying to keep a somewhat straight path……we were still pre-depth finder era… And then, THERE, right beside the boat, a walleye popped up! Just like a bobber, coming up from the deep…. It just popped right up and lay there. Whoa!!! I yelled, we’re backing up, get the net! Dad landed the fish and we all just looked at it… It was dead! Just like it had a heart attack or something and decided we looked like excellent undertakers, caretakers….some sort of taker…!!!!
So, dad begins concocting this story….”NO ONE’S catching any fish right now, lets play a joke on Johnny and say Terry caught it”. I say, “I can say I caught on this light weight Shyster Spinner “(which I was using, but never caught any walleye on)…”let’s pull this joke on Johnny, the resort owner”!! Sure enough, we went right in…..and gave Johnny our story…..he was impressed…very impressed!!
Johnny was so impressed he says, “I’ll call the paper, and have them send out a reporter and photographer…. We’ll get your picture in the paper for catching the biggest fish this week”!!! Oh,oh….our little joke seems to be getting out of hand…Johnny leaves….we three go into a huddle…….the huddle, decides…keep our mouths shut…. Whatever, we also can’t include grandma and mom….you know how women are….they’d want us to come clean!!! No, let’s let this lay low and maybe the paper guy won’t come out…. We meekly go back to the cabin…and receive accolades from grandma and mom for our great catch.
In the mean time, Johnny puts the fish in the cooler to keep for later. He later comes to the cabin an explains that the reporter will be here around 8pm, so be down at the boat house before that….
About 7:30, I headed to the boat house, and I find Johnny, with my soon to be immortal trophy fish, he’s got a stick and he’s stuffing it with lead sinkers and pushing them down with the stick!!…..then he wads up newspaper and stuffs that down!!….he must have added 2 lbs to that fish!!…..man, it’s beginning to be shaped like a large mouth bass!! I’m going to not only get pictured with my fib/lie, but also Johnny’s lie!! Sure enough, out comes the reporter, camera in hand…I get my picture in the paper and Johnny’s resort gets free advertising.
After the reporter and Johnny leave, dad cuts the fish open, removes the sinkers and throws the fish away…remember…who wants to eat a fish, that mysteriously pops up out of the bottom of the lake… Dad, grandpa and I reflected on the fish, the sinkers and the wadded newspaper, and begin giggling….we giggled all the way back to the cabin… then….stopping…we look at each other and to promise we must enter the cabin straight faced……………….we did!
Well, we lasted for about 60 seconds in that cabin….I forgot who looked at who first….but the snicker, turned into a giggle, turn into a laugh that ended in he-haws….. With that much laughter, the story had to come out….I don’t think grandma and mom thought this as that funny….in fact, I believe grandma’s words were JESSE!!….but a new pact was made…a cabin pact–that we couldn’t tell Johnny anything about this fish during our vacation…