Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pauly's Fish

Nearly every year since my high school days, my buddies and I went to fishing opener in nothern Minnesota.  The dates and locales may have changed over the years, but the constant, especially in the past twenty years, was the four of us. 

And then, five years ago, everything changed.  I'll let Pauly tell you about it in his own words:

The accidnt left Pauly massively injured.  His life had been changed forever.  Outdoor pursuits like hunting, fishing, and golfing had been replaced by years of therapy, work, sweat, and tears.

Five long years. 

And while we all thought Pauly’s fishing days were over, we couldn’t have been more wrong, as Pauly made arrangements to join us on our annual trip this year.  

We started our trip in usual fashion, with a stop at Toby’s in Buckman, Minnesota.  Now called Bottoms Up or some damn thing, it will always be Toby’s to us.  It served as the halfway point to our trip up, and was a welcomed oasis for a dry throat.  It also was the place where we learned to throw darts, and tales of our competitions are renowned.  

We started our stop in usual fashion, with a Bloody Mary and a beer, and before too long the smack talk had started and someone put money into the dart machine, and we were off and running.  While JP and I maintained our championship, Pauly was incredible, and actually closed out a game for a win; needing and scoring a tough 20.  Awesome. 

We headed up to the cabin where we tried to make Pauly as comfortable as possible, and after lunch we all got the itch to go fishing.  

We used a rented pontoon boat to ease getting around and headed off to the first spot.  Coming up with nothing on our first drift, we moved slightly and put in for a second drift.  Almost immediately after stopping, I glanced over to see Pauly’s pole bent and thumping.  I immediately said a small, audible prayer – “Please be a walleye…” 

Pauly struggled with the reeling but was making good progress, and after a short fight, had landed this beauty.  I shot this video at the end of most of the chaos.  

I have no idea how much went into that fish in terms of Pauly getting to that point, but it was simply incredible.  Hollywood doesn’t write this kind of stuff. 

Showing he wasn’t just a fluke, Pauly finished the weekend with two other fish.  Not a lot by most standards.  But the standards had changed and changed so much that it was now beyond a lot.  It was everything. 

It was awesome to be there, to share in it, and to celebrate.  

The weekend showed much to all of us.  It showed, very cleary, that so much had changed.  It also showed that so much had not changed – not changed at all.  Not one bit.    

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