Eye To Eye With Jake

Life On The Back Page - July 2023

Daryl Gay | July 1, 2023

Maybe I’m just seeing things.

Or not.

My optometriskatologist, or however you spell eye doctor, can’t seem to get a handle on it. Says ain’t nothing that he can see. OK; so what’s wrong is that I can’t see.

Well, some of the really important things anyways.

Take 4-lb. test line and an extra light-wire bream hook, for instance. Now, whip ’em together using an improved clinch knot.

Without using the Hubble Telescope. See what I mean?

Here’s the deal: all I want to do is catch 10 or a dozen redbreast. The fact that I have rather devious plans for their immediate futures is irrelevant. We’ll get to that.

But first we gotta tie a knot that’ll hold onto a hook that’ll hold onto a redbreast. So, while standing beside the boat mumbling to myself while prepping for the trip, I feel as if I’m doing it blindfolded.

“Hit ain’t yer peepers, hit’s yer fangers!”

Oh. So now that we have that little problem clearly identified, how’s about moving on to the next one: extracting this extra light-wire hook from my index fanger. Finger!

“JAKE! You know better than to sneak up on me like that when I’m in the middle of something! Now look what you’ve done!”

“Shaddup yer caterwauling. I ain’t sneakin’ and you’re allus in the middle of something. Here you is gripin’ about yer eyes whilst tryin’ to tie that sewing thread with them poke sausage fangers of yourn. Here, lemme have it.”

Oh, I thought about it. Letting him have it. But my pistol was on the truck seat and the paddle was out of reach in front of the boat. All of which he was perfectly aware of as he leered with hands reaching.

“You don’t mind if we get this hook out first, do you? I mean I’d hate to bleed all over those 40-year-old overalls.”

As ever, he remained nonplussed.

“Hit’d be right welcome was you to leak a little. Fit right in. Ritchere I got deer blood; that there’s squirrel; down lower’s where I knelt on that pig I stuck; Sallie Mae’s daddy’s chicken left a drop or two over here…”

“ENOUGH! The hook, Jake. The hook.”

The way I saw it—blurry or not—there were two options: I could finagle the thing out myself with maybe a half-pint drainage of good ol’ A positive and a single 190-decibel screech; OR, I could allow Jake to do it with a rusty Barlow and wear a prosthesis for the rest of my days.

In the end, I can not TELL you how glad I am that this was an ELW hook. The needle-nose pliers crushed the tiny barb down nicely, then held fast as I jerked the eye end backward.

Jake—crouched under the truck so as not to be in the direct route of any resulting 215-lb. stampede—emerged to spit ‘bakker on it and wrap with electrical tape.

Good as new. Back to the 4-lb. test.

“What’d ye ever do with them thirtylebbem pair of dollar glasses you got? If you’d put them on yer face ye could twine that line in a minnit. Ain’t gonna use them might as well take the scope off yer rifle and use hit. I could tape hit to yer head…”

Informing him that plenteous humor had been heaped upon me already, I turned ELW #2 toward the sun and had it taut within 20 seconds, tape be hanged.

Now, on to the important stuff.

“By the way, where’s us fishing?”

“US who? I don’t recall any mention of picking up hitchhikers.”

In an instant it was as if the sun shone from inside his empty head as those beady eyes lit right up.

“YEP! Thought ye had me fooled with them bream outfits, din’t ye? I knows ye. All you was waitin’ fer was the first 100-degree day; you’se goin’ striper huntin’!”

So how are we going to weasel our way out of this one?

“Do you see anything but bream rods in the boat? You know better than that.”

“What I know is it takes redbreasts with a big ol’ hook in their backs to call a striper to yore boat. The way I look at it, all this trouble with yore eyes is affectin’ the way you think. How’s you gonna navigate that river without me up front to scout it all out?”

“You mean other than the fact that I’ve run that river for 40 years and could do it at night with a hood over my head? Besides, I’ve got dollar glasses in strengths from 1.25 to Pepsi-bottle 99.98 scattered all over the homestead. And tying 30-lb. test is a mite different from this 4-pound.”

“I gotta admit ye got a point thar. But ye still ain’t got no net man, ner nobody to fetch that front anchor up and down. You hangs into that 40-pounder you wants and yer in a mess without me swangin’ the net. ‘Sides, that front end is apt to shift once you gits excited and goes to floppin’ around. He’ll pull you all the way back to the coast, and with yer bad eyes, you won’t even know where you is. Naw, I’d best come along to look after you.”

“I thought you said there was nothing wrong with my eyes.”

“Yep, me and yer doctor, too. But ye won’t lissen to neither flippin’ one of us. Yer biggest problem is yer argumentative brainbox. ‘Cause iffen you thanks yer gonna leave me in the yard and go off a’huntin’ stripers, it’s one of them thar pyschoamalgamatedologists you need to be seein’ cause ye’ve lost yer mind and not yer eyeballs!”

Come to think of it, now he’s got a pretty good point. I’ve never won an argument with the old coot in my life. I’m taking him fishing; let you know if I bring him back…

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