Monday, August 10, 2009

More Musky Tales

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More Musky Tales by Bob Jennings. Published by the author, RR 1, Box 40-A, Switz City, IN 47465. $22. with Priority Mailing, and the book is author signed.

Jennings and I are a good bit alike. We both have a rather odd or weird sense of humor, and mine may even be a bit more bizarre than his.

Let’s face things up front: Humor means different things to different people. What makes each of us giggle, guffaw, laugh, roar, tee-hee, titter or say ”huh?” because we don’t get it, is a large part of what humor writing is all about.

Frankly, there are times I wonder where Bob Jennings is going with his stories. There are times when Bob Jennings doesn’t tickle my funny bone. That’s OK though.

Lucille Ball wasn’t funny all the time, and North America’s Poet Laureate of outdoor humor – Patrick McManus – isn’t funny all the time. It’s part of this insane writing genre that is so hard to master.

Jennings gives it his best shot in this book, and I applaud him for his efforts to bring some humor to the sport of muskie fishing, which is perhaps the least laughable type of fishing there is.

One goes out, cast his arms off (I am somewhat ambidextrous when casting heavy muskie plugs) and damn, I haven’t found much about catching these evil-looking fish that makes me laugh. Granted, I’ll crank up a bit of a grin when I land and release a legal fish, but I can’t remember ever keeping a fish so it’s certainly hard to laugh about that.

I’ve heard a few muskie-fishing jokes of the type that can’t be printed on a page destined for family reading, but by their nature, they do not count for anything here. To write rib-cracking words that make us cry because they are so funny is about as much fun as a self-performed appendectomy with a rusty fillet knife.

At best we can recall a few things that were some funny, for some people at least. I remember a buddy getting hooked high in the upper thigh just an inch or two from a couple of very tender parts of his lower anatomy, but that really can’t be funny. I mean, can you really imagine going into the hospital with one person supporting a very dead muskie dangling from one of the three hooks. He’s hooked by the top treble near the aforementioned sweet spot, and one treble is swinging in small circle while the third hook is still in the muskie’s mouth. It was up to your faithful writer to support said muskie while he tried to keep the middle treble at bay.

Trust me. It really was an odd and somewhat laughable scene. One person – the victim – was the only one who failed to see the humor of his predicament.

He approached the emergency room admissions desk, points down at his problem, and in as nice a voice as is possible when in such a precarious position, hollers “Help!”

People flocked around to see what precisely has happened to the guy. Someone wants to measure and weigh the muskie to see if it was a legal fish (which it wasn’t), someone else told him they’d have to cut his shorts off to get to the root of the problem of the extra appendage dangling from him, and he finally solved the problem while others dithered over what to do.

He grabs a pair of side-cutters, twists the hook so the needle-sharp hook finished its painful journey through his thigh, narrowly missing everything he loves in life. The pain causes a great gasp as the massive treble hook went through his leg.

He cut the hook off below the barb, backed it out the same hole it went into, and we sloshed some alcohol and iodine on the wound while he screamed a few nasty works, and then we went back to fishing with blood running down his leg. Granted, it may have been fun watching the hospital crew cut the shorts off this poor guy but I’m happy that nothing else was hooked. And, to make this story somewhat funny, we wound up catching a pair of 48-inch fish as a finale to another weird day of muskie fishing.

So what’s so funny about that story? Not much, which points out why Bob Jennings has to work hard to bring out a laugh from his readers. He used to write the end of the magazine story for one of the muskie magazines, and this book follows another book, Musky Tales.

Muskie fishing is just a bunch of hard work. Constant trolling or casting, ripping weeds off hooks, hour after hour, and once in a while we are rewarded with a fish. Once in a while Jennings is rewarded with a laugh. It’s everything he hopes for.

Muskie book collectors rate books as “pure” muskie fishing, and as “partial” muskie books, which means the book contains other things than fish that hook people in painful places. Muskie book collectors, and others who like muskie titles, are buying it to add to their collection.

You can too. And be careful when muskie fishing. You may wind up in one of my or Jennings’ stories.

Posted by Dave Richey on 08/10 at 05:20 PM
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