Spent the last several days fishing Lake Merwin with my good friend Richard Kennedy. I am sure that some of you have found that good fishing partners are hard to find! Richard is one of my longtime fishing buddies, a friend that time does not change. We meet up after months of not fishing together and take up where we left off as though no time has elapsed, joking, poking jabs at each other and generally solving the worlds problems, all of that in between sharing stories from our respective pasts.
How we hooked up:
Richard and I met over an ill fated trip to fish a derby outside Seattle WA. Everything that could have gone wrong on that trip, did go wrong, but it all came together to cement what I will call a “lifetime friendship.”
We hooked up on Ifish, (an online fishing board) I was looking for a partner to fish the Stevens Lake fishing derby. Having never met before other than in passing at the Portland Sportsmen’s Show; our plan was put together over the phone late one evening, I was to meet up with Richard at his cabin up on Lake Merwin, where we would fish one day and the following day head North. I headed up,there on a Wednesday with a plan to fish Merwin the next morning so we could spend a day figuring out how we could work together to have a successful team in the upcoming derby. All went well out on Merwin that day, and we boated some nice fish all the while finding out how to work well together which is rare, a good fishing partner or team is hard to find!
Friday morning early we headed up to Stevens Lake to spend a day pre-fishing to figure out the lake. We did OK in our pre fishing, boating several, “Crowd Pleasers” as Richard called them. The wind came up and we spent the evening fishing into the wind on rough water. During the process of that, I lost a down rigger weight and cable ( my bad and my fault!)! Fortunately I had a backup and we were able to re rig so we would be ready for the morning.
Friendship Under Fire:
We fished late, since I had already reserved a hotel room at a nearby Best Western Hotel online. When we got off the water it was almost dark and we were hungry and tired which is something that most diehard fishermen have experienced after a long day on rough water.
We found our hotel, with the help of the car GPS and checked in. We asked the Asian (I assume she was Chinese) lady working the desk if there was a good Restaurant close by within easy walking distance. She pointed us to the Chinese Restaurant on the corner next to the hotel (go figure!). Well we dropped our gear in the room and headed over to the Restaurant for some chow.
A little Chinese lady seated us, giving us each a menu. She returned a few minutes later to take our order, starting with me. I selected #13 on the menu, a combination meal with shrimp, pork fried rice and some other item that has since slipped my memory. She then turned to Richard, questioning him on his choice. Richard told her he would like a #16. This little Chinese gal instantly starts yelling at him in this high pitched sing song voice telling him; “You no have #16, you have #13!” all the while glaring at him. We both sat there dumbfounded, staring at this little skinny Chinese firecracker. After what seemed like an eternity Richard agreed to eat a #13. A few moments later, she returned with our meal, which was one of the worst excuses for food I have ever experienced!
It would seem that at this point it could not get much worse but a few minutes later she returned and seeing us just picking at our food (mainly because it was not fit to eat) and announced quite loudly in the same shrieking Chinese voice, “You done! You pay now!!!” with our stomachs in an uproar from what little we had eaten, we paid that little screecher less the tip she could have earned and headed up to our room to take a shower and watch a little TV before turning in.
Richard went in to use the bathroom first and to take a shower while I kicked back on the bed and took a quick nap or more accurately, down a few cold beers. Rich returned a few minutes later, spit shined and looking refreshed only to tell me that I might want to pass on using the toilet. Seems after he did his business, the toilet had over flowed. He had of course solved the problem (being a kind of an innovator) by using almost all of the towels to dam up the overflow within the bathroom. Needless to say, I was not exactly pleased but I headed in to take my turn in the shower. About the time I got into the bathroom, chairman Mao Tse Tung’s revenge took hold of my gut! Glancing at the commode, and seeing it looking normal I decided to risk it, choosing to unleash the Chinese pressure bomb building steam at my bottom end. All went well until I pushed the little chrome lever to take the remains of that meal back from whence it came. Good thing Richard had already built a substantial dike, much like the one that holds back the mighty Mississippi from New Orleans! I continued on, taking my shower and getting my PJ’s on before heading out to watch a little TV, at which time Richard informed me the TV was dead…
Next morning, we got up at an early 3:00 AM, wanting to get some coffees and a roll prior to hitting the lake. We arrived at the ramp at 4:00 AM to a line of twenty rigs waiting in to dump their boats. We were the last rig to find a parking spot in the ramp parking lot, everyone else having find a place to park along a street somewhere in town.
We motored out just before daylight, quickly putting our first and only Kokanee in the box, fifty yards out from the dock (thanks to Richard). We fished hard, trying everything but all to no avail. Realizing that we had seen the bite come and go, (such as it was) an hour before weigh in we elected to head in, load up and slink out of the parking lot with our tails tucked between our legs to save us from further embarrassment.
Coming in, a breeze had come up, turning into a steady wind causing some medium chop cross the ramp and loading dock. We cruised into the loading dock with Rich standing on the gunnel ready to step ashore, the dock being about two feet taller than the side of my boat it was quite a step (Very odd!). If any of you have a jet pump or jet boat as opposed to a prop you will understand that holding a jet without being under power is almost impossible (like herding chickens) in a cross wind, which is what was happening at the very moment that Rich went to step off the boat. He stepped too late and there was no dock where his foot landed. He disappeared in a geyser of water (Like old faithful in yellow stone national park). The only thing left I could see of Rich was his hat on top of that column of water about three or four feet above the gunnel of my boat. I backed out, not wanting to accidentally crush him between boat and dock.
He ended up walking to shore, changing his cloths and then backing the truck and trailer down the ramp so we could slink out of the parking lot, defeated and now much more embarrassed.
Surviving Friendship over the Years:
That was years ago and thankfully Richard and I have not experienced anything quite so dramatic since that week end on Lake Stevens! We have had many trips and caught lots of fish together since that fateful trip!
I did learn a few lessons on that trip which I willingly share: (1) Laugh at yourself; sometimes it is hard, but it is the best medicine for wounded pride! (2) When you check into your hotel, make sure right off the bat that everything is as it should be, if not make sure it is fixed before leaving for chow. Best Western is a franchise, complaints go nowhere so don’t plan on getting any satisfaction after the fact, instead apply the prostitute principle IE: It is hard to get satisfaction after services are rendered. (3) when a Chinese waitress starts yelling at you, be smart enough to get up and leave before getting the food plague from Mao Tse Tung! Shooting her or yelling racial obscenities is highly discouraged! (5) Good Fishing Partners are Hard To Find so enjoy the good ones that share those moments out on the water,be they good or bad because it is not all about catching, it is after all about the experience! You will not remember what you did at work (or even care), but years down the road, but you will remember that time out on the water and the stories told around the camp fire!