Can you bond with a fish? Not sure about that. However, I think my dog Norman had. On several occasions from the porch I would see a pretty good size bass chasing bait fish up the side of the dike. Norman, on dry land of course, would be running almost side by side as the fish cornered dinner. Saw that more than one time. Never went to check it out. Didn’t think it was any of my business.
Now here comes some tough times.
The lake is 10 years old and Susie Q has been in it for 6 or 7 years. That’s fine, but Norman was 6 when I filled the lake. That makes him 16, which is about two years of bonus time for me and I have to put him down.
This dog was the most special thing in my life at the time and I buried him about 30 feet from the house and the same distance from the lake. I recessed a big flat rock that the lawn mower would go over, into the ground for a marker, then went to the woods and dug up a Red Bud tree that stood 2 feet high. I planted it next to Ole’ Norm.
Oh how I cussed life for putting me through that and assured everyone that that would never happen again, because I would never get another dog.
That lasted for about 2 weeks, or until I got lined up with a new wiener dog puppy that I’d call Archie. Norm was black with tan trim and Archie was solid tan.
Archie wasn’t even 6 months old before he caught the fishing bug. All I had to do was pick up a rod and he’d make a B-line for the little pond boat and we’d be off. Both my dachshunds were bass fishin’ nuts.
Well I guess you think I have a tale about Archie meeting Susie Q, but I don’t. As far as I know, the two never met. In fact I can’t really say that I ever saw her again myself. Saw the Albinos, but not Susie Q.
Time passes quickly doesn’t it? Archie is 4 years old and knows his way around the lake pretty good. I’m eating breakfast and I step out on the back porch with a bowl of cornflakes, and I freeze. Something’s wrong.
A big eagle sits atop a dead tree in the middle of the lake. He’s around lots, but normally flying – not sitting. The wind is dead calm.
The birds that usually are all over the feeders are nowhere to be found. Not a sound coming out of the woods. Two deer are watching from across the lake and a raccoon is zoned in on something at the water’s edge, just in front of the deer.
I grab my binoculars and sure enough there’s a fish washed up on the bank and surprisingly neither the eagle nor the raccoon are bothering it.
Archie and I are down the porch steps, across the yard and over to the back side of the lake in a flash. The deer and raccoon ease into the edge of the woods and watch as I slowly walk up on the dead fish. I knew what it was when I looked through the binoculars. I think I knew when I first spotted the eagle sitting in the tree.
She hadn’t been there long and although a little thinner, she was still the finest bass I’d ever seen. Susie Q was probably 10 years old as Archie eyed her with great interest. How did I know it was her? Well what other bass in the lake would have a battered red tag … just behind the dorsal fin.
I wrapped her in a towel, buried her 3 feet deep, red tag and all, right next to Norman under the Red Bud tree that was now six feet tall. The spot was marked with another recessed flat rock.
I have written several pages and 100s of words getting to the last and most important part of this story. Thanks for hanging in there with me.
Several years have gone by and it’s Christmas morning 2010. I’ve never completely got over the 10-year Susie Q adventure, but I’m thankful that I was a part of it. Like most mornings, even Christmas morning, I start the day on the back porch with a bowl of Cornflakes. Archie is already 10 years old.
Good night, I’m 74 and have seen everything there is to see. Or so I thought.
This day the lake is alive. The eagles flying, birds all over the feeders, turtles with their heads sticking up and out of the water. Folks, I know this lake. Something’s happening … again.
Archie’s nose is up against the porch door wanting out so bad. I then experience an incredible 10 minutes.
A big bass bust into a batch of minnows over next to the dike. Wow, never seen that in winter. Then I look on the bank, 4 feet from where the bass busted. There’s a weasel, or wait, it’s colored like a weasel, black and tan, but a little larger than a weasel. It’s the size of Archie. In fact it looks exactly like … No, that’s impossible.
I’m scrambling for my binoculars as the fish hits the surface again. The fish and his buddy head for the end of the dike. I can’t find those stupid binoculars, but I do kick the porch door open and Archie’s off like a rocket.
The bass seems to be gone when I arrived, but Arch has chased Nor … Arch has chased the weasel into the woods.
We’re standing there at the water’s edge a little confused at what just happened and the confusion gets worse when I see two albino catfish suspended just off shore. When I walked closer and look down into about 4 or 5 inches of water, I spot something that ends the confusion.
There on the bottom was a ragged red fish tag.
Now it’s all over. Me and Arch are making our way back to the house and I need to make a quick stop.
One is to my bass boat where I put the red tag back in the glove compartment of my boat. The other is to the 6 foot red bud tree that marked Norman and Susie Q’s resting spot.
The flat rocks were in place and the ground and grass was completely undisturbed.
So there you have it and I’ve got to admit, parts of this Christmas story weren’t true, but most parts were.
You’d be shocked and happy if you knew which parts were the true ones. You have to remember that on my lake, from time to time, strange things happen. Really strange things.