Momma has been paddle boarding for close to twenty years now, and will tell anyone who cares to listen that she is the original boarder on our lake. She has loved almost every minute of it. She used to take her late dog, Ben, along and now usually takes me. Ben and I have been good passengers, each of us only falling in only once. (Momma: “At least Ben knew to swim back to the board, Lina. Just saying.”) Neither of us has contributed any dog paddling for added power, though, as Momma thinks we should, and as some smart-aleck boaters occasionally suggest.
Speaking of boaters/fishers, Momma often calls out to them asking what they are fishing for. Their usual answers (when they care to respond to the ditzy lady with the little Aussie) are Bass, Northerns, Crappies and Sunnies. Recently, when we were out for a spin, a fisherman teased Momma that there are lots of Muskies in the lake, and she better watch out so they don’t get her little doggie (me!). Well that got Momma’s attention, and now her boater banter usually ends with “Have you ever seen a Muskie out here?” Only last week, a fisherman answered in the affirmative, saying that he and his wife were out fishing and one swam right up to their boat with its mouth wide open. Momma wished she hadn’t asked, but tried to put it out of her mind.
I bring all this up because Momma recently had an encounter with a Muskie that may change her boarding days forever. She had gone boarding alone when Lori couldn’t join her and she knew it was too hot for me with my double fur coat to be out in the blazing sun. She also knew that I would be disappointed, so she practically belly-crawled down to the lake so I couldn’t see her leaving.
The minute she got down to her board, she ran into a neighbor, Lisa, who was kayaking by (as I could see by looking out the window). They joined up and cruised all over the lake, then Lisa peeled off to head to her house. Just as Momma was crossing a channel close to home, something caught her eye off to the right and not more than ten feet away — a muskrat she thought. But upon a closer look, she saw it was a gigantic fish that looked like a monster from the deep.
Immediately, she knew it was a Muskie and screamed at the top of her lungs (as though she had just seen a shark), “Muskie! Muskie!” Lisa and a nearby boarder — and let’s face it — almost everyone on the lake — looked at her with great curiosity. In fact, Momma’s voice was so loud that I could hear her all the way back in the living room (more proof that she had left me behind). When she dared to look back at the creature, she saw it was still above water with its mouth open and looking right at her just before it dived under. Momma saw it that it indeed was a humongous fish.
Shaken, she turned to the nearby boarder who said he had seen it, too. In fact, he said when he was out on the lake last week, one tried to crawl on his board. This was almost too much for Momma to bear. Would she ever take me out on the board again? Would she ever go on the board again?
That question was answered when she and Lori (strength in numbers she thought and fortified by champagne) did a little après July 4th boarding (once again leaving me behind — too hot and I might get eaten by a Muskie). Amazingly, they ran into the same boarder who confirmed to Lori that a Muskie really had tried to climb on his board the previous week.
Next, they encountered a neighbor, Mark, working on his dock. Momma, by now had ramped up her Muskie inquisition, and asked Mark if he had ever seen one. Yes, he responded, and further informed her that a fisherman had caught a forty-four incher just the other day not far away.
Momma was horrified by that news, especially when Mark added that the fisherman threw the Muskie back in, explaining that most people just catch them for sport and that the DNR stocks the lake with Tiger Muskies! Tiger Muskies? Were they insane, she thought? She did not pay taxes for the government to put attack fish in the lake to ruin her fun. (And by now she had Googled “Muskies biting people on lakes in Minnesota,” and found at least two incidents cited, one of which required stitches!)
To be honest, I’m a little scared myself. Here I am in my favorite scarf wondering if I’ll ever get to leave shore again.
Lina, Muskie Munchie?