Birthday fishing fail

How is it that the kids on YouTube make hooking fish look so easy?

I watched several of their videos Monday morning as I was getting my gear together for my birthday fishing excursion.

After watching them pull fish after fish out of the water, I was certain I would finally get the angling monkey off my back, that I would be able to tell my friends that I caught a birthday fish or two and show my wife that her husband is not a complete incompetent.

I remain, however, true to form.

The first bonehead thing I did when I arrived at the public lake about 45 minutes from my house explains why I decided to keep a spare pole handy. After picking what looked like a nice spot to set up shop, I tangled the line in the new rod and reel I bought last week as a birthday present to myself.

I grew so frustrated trying to fix it, that I eventually banished it to the trunk of my car and fetched the spare from where I left it the last time I failed at fishing – on the ledge in my car’s back window.

I then promptly moved on to the next setback – losing one of my new jigs.

I bid it goodbye not long after I actually started fishing. On one of my first casts, the jig I bought just that morning snapped off the end of my line, went sailing over the water in a high arc, and landed in the lake with a plop.

The sound of it hitting the water startled me. And as I watched each succeeding ripple form on the lake’s surface as the jig sank to the bottom, I figured out what went so terribly wrong. I forgot to release my line by opening the bail on my spinning reel.

Lesson learned?

Not immediately. I lost another new jig in similar fashion.

The next couple of hours I spent lakeside proved disappointingly uneventful. While I eventually got my act together enough to at least throw a line into the water without losing my lure, the fish weren’t buying me as a serious angler. It was as if they had taken one look at me, chuckled to themselves, and then decided it would be too embarrassing to end up my hook.

In the end, only a few tiny salamanders in the shallows at my feet showed any interest in what I was offering. One even started to crawl up my line when I left it dangling in front of them, but then thought better of it and went on its way.

The hard truth is, I would have been better off booting up Pokémon Go on my phone. At least then, I could have looked forward to the satisfaction of catching something, even if Pokémon are just cartoon characters in a video game.

But then, catching a Magikarp on my phone isn’t quite the same as the reality of pulling a big, fat, largemouth bass out of the water.

For that, I need a rod and reel.

If only I could use a Poke ball.

Birthday fishing fail

I half expect the neighborhood deer to show up trick-or-treating

I make my living on the radio, but the other day I was on the other side of the dial when the newscaster on the station I was listening to warned about the dangers of deer.

He offered tips to drivers about how to avoid colliding with them. They amount to slowing down and remaining vigilant, especially in the early morning and evening hours.

He also offered advice about what to do if such a collision seems imminent: resign yourself to crashing, brake if you can but do NOT swerve to avoid making a bad situation worse by crashing into other cars on the road.

This warning wasn’t the first I’ve run across over the past few weeks. I’ve already seen several media stories about the potential for deer crashes because IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR – deer are on the move looking for mates and wandering into traffic more often as a result.

The insurance giant State Farm makes it easy to report on the potential for deer crashes. Each year, it ranks the states where drivers are most likely to hit a deer or some other large animal such as an elk or a moose.

This year’s rankings came out about a month ago, with West Virginia occupying its usual place AT. THE. TOP.

According to State Farm, one out of every 41 West Virginia drivers will likely file a claim involving deer this year.

I’m already hyper-aware of the potential. Several years ago, I filed a claim when I hit a deer so hard it made my car spin around on the interstate, and I regularly have close calls on my commute to Washington, D.C.

Just this week, I was driving home from work when a young buck almost wandered into my path. It appeared distracted, as if it were playing Pokémon Go on a smartphone.

I don’t know if honking was the right thing to do, but if that buck really was looking for Pokémon by the side of the road, the sudden sound of my car’s horn snapped him back into reality. The deer turned on a dime and darted for the safety of the tree line.

Deer get bold this time of year, and that includes the family that lives in our neighborhood. They’ve been so brazen lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if mom and dad send their fawns trick-or-treating this Halloween.

Dressing them up as some sort of Pokémon character seems like a good bet. Many of them already have four-legs and hooves.

The more politically aware deer could simply wear Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton masks, but with such a contentious election, that might be more dangerous than wandering into traffic.

If I were them, I would skip Halloween, stay off the roads, and stick to grazing in my wife’s garden.

I half expect the neighborhood deer to show up trick-or-treating

Because misery loves company

The theme that plays while you’re walking here and there playing “Pokémon Go” is on a continuous loop in my head.

I can’t decide if it’s inspiring me to take a break from my busy nap schedule and get outside or if it’s simply driving me crazy.

Thought I’d attempt to get some relief by passing it on to you.

You’re welcome.

 

Because misery loves company

This weekend’s newspaper column -I’ve finally learned to just go with Pokemon

I’ve done it, again.

I’ve publicly shamed my wife for the umpteenth time.

A colleague of hers walked into her office Thursday morning and asked, “Was that YOUR husband walking around downtown playing Pokemon?”

Before you start judging, please note that I wasn’t home parked in my favorite chair and passively binge-watching “Star Trek” episodes I’ve already seen hundreds of times.

I was actually out walking.

Around town.

Taking time away from my busy nap schedule and GETTING SOME EXERCISE.

On a certain level, my wife should be pleased that I showed enough initiative to get out of my chair this week, even if it was to hunt down cartoon monsters from a video game.

But I also suspect she would prefer I not be so obvious about “Pokemon Go,” the incredibly popular smartphone game that’s revived the Pokemon franchise and dominated pop culture since its release this month.

Anyone who is only dimly aware of the game instantly knows you’re playing it when you walk by them on the street. That’s part of its charm and a source of its ignominy. My wife’s colleague certainly figured it out when she saw me wandering around downtown phone-in-face, but she wasn’t the first.

After I initially downloaded “Pokemon Go” last weekend, I persuaded my teenage daughter to roam the neighborhood with me.

Teenagers are helpful. They are Pokemon literate. They grew up with the game and many are as nerdy about it as I am about “Star Trek.” She explained the finer points of capturing Pokemon and helped me catch my first one in an open field near our house.

That’s when I looked up from my phone long enough to notice a car slowing down and the driver giggling at us. Then her passenger bellowed “Pokemon Go!”

I should have felt at least slightly self-conscious. I’ve spent the past 20 years happily scoffing at Pokemon even as I opened my wallet so my kids could play each iteration of the game. But that shout-out felt like I was being welcomed into the club. Pokemon has finally found a way to suck me in.

I am probably more surprised by that than my wife is ashamed. I just wish “Pokemon Go’s” power to motivate people to get outside and explore the world around them extended to yard work.

My son and I usually share lawn mowing duties. This summer, however, I’ve let him slack a bit. It probably has something to do with him leaving for college in a few short weeks.

Rather than simply ordering him to help, I’ve tried to gently shame him, simply pointing out several times a week that “I mowed the lawn for you … AGAIN.” It hasn’t worked.

I tried a different tack earlier this week. I showed him a picture of a Pokemon I bagged while mowing. I thought it might motivate him, but he just shrugged it off.

It’s probably just as well. There are countless stories of “Pokemon Go” players becoming so distracted by the game that they bump into other people and walk into doors, poles and even into traffic.

If I actually let him play the game while mowing the lawn, he’d probably just end up mowing through his mom’s flower beds.

And that, without a doubt, would mean the end of anyone in our house playing “Pokemon Go” ever again.

This weekend’s newspaper column -I’ve finally learned to just go with Pokemon