ERIE — After a successful trip to Lake Erie with Larry Prater in mid-June, we decided to hit the big lake for another overnight adventure before the July 4th holiday crowd rolled into Port Clinton.
My fishing buddy had not responded when I contacted him so I passed up a chance to pack my camping gear. With the Port Clinton weather forecast calling for overnight thunderstorms, I booked a room at the Peninsula Inn. As soon as I had made the reservation, my phone rang faster than you can tie a palomar knot on a windless day.
“Doug, I’ll pack the tent and be at your house in three hours,” announced my enthused firshing buddy.
“Leave it, Larry, I made a reservation at the Peninsula motel.” The dead silence on Larry’s end of the call told me he was having a serious cramp in his left gluteus maximus wallet pocket.
“Yes, Larry, a motel, it’s the thing our ancestors came up with when they got tired of sleeping in overgrown grocery bags,” was my unmerciful reply.
Larry finally came to grips with the modern accommodations when I promised not to do any cooking.
We followed the same gameplan as our first visit, but the results were different. We went after the largemouth bass on our first day at Erie, and found schooling bass busting minnows on the breakwall at East Harbor. As we fished on the channel side of the breakwall, Larry noticed the commotion on the main lake side of the wall where a flock of seagulls were dive bombing the surface.
With the birds acting as fishfinders, we scooted around the point where the fishing made a quick transition to catching. Larry’s number one bait was his Ned rig in the PB&J color while I threw one of my all-time most fun baits, the weightless Zoom white pearl Super Fluke.
Day two saw us return to the north side of South Bass Island for the smallmouth bass fishing. The brown bombers did not cooperate this time around as we managed to land two or three for the day. However, we were able to connect with some mighty fine freshwater drum. Better known as sheepshead at Lake Erie, this fish is not the prized catch that a smallmouth bass is. They do grow large and are extremely cooperative about biting. We decided to cross the channel back to the mainland to try the largemouth again.
Luck was with us, and so were the birds. It was hammer time for over an hour until our arms were too weary to cast once the clock struck 2 p.m.
On the exact flipside of that outdoor experience was the one I enjoyed a few days later with five football teammates from our days at Wilmington College.
Our head coach, Bill Atsalis, now lives in Florida where he plays golf every day. He makes an annual trip back to Ohio and treats his former players to a day of chasing the little ball at the Snow Hill golf course in New Vienna.
Coach Atsalis is now 86 and is the only one of us still wearing the same pants size as we did in 1971.
Roger Smith, our starting inside linebacker, organizes the day. Ed Crabtree, Steve Magoteaux, Steve Feck, Dan Feeney, Roger and I experienced our first day with Coach Atsalis that didn’t involve us running 40-yard sprints until death was no longer feared, but almost joyfully anticipated.
Of course, anyone listening to the trash talk between our two groups would have thought we used the most top secret dialogue since the Navajo Code Talkers in the Marines Corps during WWII.
“Nice Maggot!” “Thanks FeenDog.” “Another Mulligan, Normbo?” “Yeah, I know, Fecker.” “Rooster, the parking lot is for cars, not your drive.” Nice putt, pal.”
Forty-five years have made us the more or less brothers, as in more waist and less hair. However, for one day on a golf course, it was full go hitting again for a band of brothers even though we had traded our Riddells for New Eras.
Thanks Coach Atsalis, for a whole lot more than a round of golf and the chili cheese fries!