Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Fish and Whistle

The Other Jim is stuck in Cuba and won't make it back in time for the trip, so there will only be two departures now: early morning and late at night. For the morning guys, we are picking up The Other Other Jim at the Waffle House on the way down and both Rob and Vernon are meeting us at the put-in. That means there should only be four of us actually leaving with the trailer Saturday morning: Skip, David, Phil and Kirk. You guys try to get here by 8:15.

As always, virtually everything that is not considered personal camping gear will be provided or acquired by the Club: canoes, paddles, lifejackets, rain fly, lanterns, saws, shovels, kitchen equipment, plates, utensils, guitars, banjos, washtub bass and a tambourine for the hallelujahs and hare krishnas on "My Sweet Lord."

One new exception to that rule is that everyone on this trip and forever after shall now bring their own cup. We've just never been able to bring enough or the right kinds of cups for everybody so get yourself a good one and make it your personal drinking vessel every day for the entire trip. From coffee in the morning through whiskey in the evening. If you were lucky enough to hold on to one of the ribbed tin cups we got a year or two ago and it hasn't fallen apart or given you lead poisoning, you can use that. Or find one that expresses your own personal style and individual taste.

Summary of your packing list: camping gear, sharp knife, B.Y.O.B. and B.Y.O.Something-to-Pour-It-Into.

All of the food, of course, is in the "will be provided" category. The last unplanned menu, Saturday lunch, is also set now: specially ordered giant smoked turkey legs that until now could only be found at NASCAR races and renaissance faires.

Because they weigh in at 2 lbs. per leg, our only side item for Saturday lunch will be mustard.

Summary of menu: smoked whitefish and champagne for Friday lunch; brats and buns Friday night; cold breakfast and hot coffee Saturday morning; mutant turkey drumsticks Saturday lunch and Grizzly Spit prime rib for dinner. Sunday breakfast is all-night dutch oven coffee cake, bacon and more hot coffee.

Finally, this is optional, but you may also want to give serious consideration to bringing the fishing gear along. We are going to be on a river that has more species of fish (151) than all of Europe. More importantly, for just about the first trip ever we'll actually have time both days to try to catch them. And a real fishing boat for goodness sake. There's a whole episode of Tennessee Wildside called "Duck River Smallies" so that should tell you something.

We don't want to jinx it or anything, but we're bringing some oil and cornmeal this time just in case.

For no good reason I went down to the canoe and took out the spinning rod and made one cast, reeling the lure in fast as it swept down the quick smooth water. As I was lifting it out, a good bass took it with a splash and a twist and tore fifty feet of thin line off the reel before it slowed him. Then he gave up and came to a quiet backwater where I beached him - a black of about three pounds, long and slim as the river fish are likely to be.

Since the afternoon's two whites were still flapping strong on the clip chain, I turned them loose and fileted the black for supper, and it was dark. The lantern's gas was exhausted, but its hissing would have been harsh against the calm starry night anyhow; I cooked and ate by the fire's flicker and used the flashlight to put out a throwline and to get myself to bed. It was warm; the pup, finding me too efficient a heater, went off to sleep on my wadded pants.

Goodbye to a River, p. 105.

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