Don't Turn Your Back on Uncle Jon
By Steve Robbins
Last week, Uncle Jon took me to one of his favorite East Texas fishing spots. Its a beautiful small lake near Hawkins, Texas. We've been there before and I expected nothing out of the ordinary.
As usual, we took the kayaks as this is a perfect kayaking lake. After we arrived, we unloaded the boats and gear. We rigged up and placed all of our stuff in the kayaks. Jon had a good idea... or so he thought. Being a great host, he was concerned with my well being... or so I thought. You know... big ol' boys like me have a tough time sitting on something that's only 6 inches off the ground. I mean... to maintain any dignity at all during that process is no easy chore. Anyway, the rear half of my kayak was in the water while the front rested on the bank. Jon told me to go ahead and get in the boat and he would push the kayak out into the water. Well... it sounded like a good idea at the time. So, without getting wet, I climbed into the boat. I positioned myself in the seat and got as comfortable as I could. Jon asked, "you ready?" I said, "yep... lets go."
Jon grabbed the nose of the kayak, slightly lifted it, and began to push it backwards out into the lake. You have to remember here... I'm a pretty big ol' boy. My weight, and Jon's lifting of the kayak's nose, caused the keel (bottom of the boat at the rear) to contact the lake's bottom. OK... remember when you were kid and someone told you to push that wheelbarrow with a load of wet cement? Ok... picture that in your mind. And picture this... Jon was holding the nose of the kayak (the wheelbarrow handles)... the keel was resting on the bottom (the wheelbarrow tire)... and I was the load of cement teetering at the mercy of Jon's grip and the fish gods. You know... it doesn't take very much tilt to cause that full wheelbarrow to start to turn over... and it takes someone with strength and the right amount of leverage to keep it upright. Well, at this point, Jon had neither. Yea... you know what happened next. I started tilting to the right. The mass was moving. I saw Jon tighten his grip... but he had no leverage. I saw his eyes start to bulge. I kept tilting to the right. At this point, I didn't think this scenario was going to end pleasantly. Jon was struggling. I was rooting for him. Within that split second, I was thinking, "come Jon, hold on."
You know... its a strange feeling when you reach the point to where you know you're going in. Its almost like slow motion. You think things like; I hope the water is not too cold, I hope its not too deep, I hope my insurance is paid up, etc... Well, I hit the water and immediately submerged. Of course, the the kayak immediately popped right back upright as Jon released his grip. I grabbed firm footing and proceeded to stand up in the belly button deep water. the bottom had a slick and steep incline at this point and I slipped and was again submerged. Eventually, in what seemed like an awful long time and a good bit of thrashing, I stood up and walked slowly out of the water. My fly line and leader were tangled all about my feet. All dignity was lost.
Jon apologized and was probably sincere. I'm sure you know that look on someone's face when they need to laugh out load but are doing their dead level best to look serious. Ok... that's Jon. Well... we reloaded the boat and approached the launch at a totally different angle. I had a good day of fishing. My mind often wandered back that moment as the water drops dripped off the brim of my hat. I couldn't help but wonder why Uncle Jon did that to me. Did he want to catch the first fish. Heck... all he had to do was say so. I would have gladly watched from the bank.