I'll get to the piscatorial point in a minute. For now, please just bear with me.
There are certain landmarks with which we are all familiar. Even if we haven't visited a particular monument, we can sometimes see it in the mind's eye. The Statue of Liberty, The Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, Mount Rushmore, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument have all become part of the American lexicon. The landmarks with which we are most familiar, however, are usually a little more mundane. Oftentimes, these landmarks spell h-o-m-e.
Drive for twenty minutes in any direction from my house, and at some point you'll pass a Stewart's convenience store. You're likely to drive by several, and you're almost certain to stop by one at least. In much of upstate New York and southern Vermont, Stewart's shops are community gathering places and town centers. In my neck of the woods, Stewart's means home.
At least once in any given day, most folks will run down to Stewart's (even when driving uphill or otherwise moving laterally people will insist they're going down to Stewart's). While there they'll pick up a gallon of milk, look over a newspaper (while subtly glancing at the cover of Penthouse), pour a cup of coffee, and purchase a lottery ticket. Before walking out the door they might give the cork board a once-over. There they'll find all manner of memos and flyers: advertisements for garage sales, information on book clubs, sewing circles and pancake breakfasts, a flyer for a firehouse fundraiser, and the ever-present notice of a missing pet.
On one such cork-board, in one particular Stewart's shop, hangs a rather unusual notice. Someone's pet is missing; an animal that answers to the name Josie. No, a missing pet is not a big deal nor is Josie is an unusual name. What is unusual is that Josie is a cockatiel, and she also answers to the names Lulu, Sweet Bologna Puss, and Foreshadowing Disaster. Yes, the bird answers to Bologna Puss and Foreshadowing Disaster. Read a little farther down the page, and one discovers that Josie enjoys Beyonce's Single Ladies, Guns -n- Roses' Sweet Child of Mine, and Bing Crosby's rendition of You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby. I've been pondering the connection, and whether lyrical, thematic or rythymic I just don't know. Perhaps the bird has eclectic tastes. Perhaps she simply enjoys singing along, but neither possibility much matters.
What is significant is that only one half mile (as the cockatiel flies) from Josie's wanted poster is the home of one heck of a largemouth bass. Josie is the landmark. Find Josie and you'll find the bass.
Ben thought the fish may have topped six pounds, but I'm guessing it was much larger (when an angler fails to catch a particular fish, he or she forever has the right to claim said fish was enormous and of uncanny intelligence). We were paddling along shore and casting to the edge of the weeds, which marked the drop off to much deeper water. Fishing was slow. Those few fish that showed themselves were either too small to inhale my 2/0 hook, or too smart to fall for a few strands of bucktail lashed to a chunck of airbrushed foam (which was in turn lashed to an over-eager bassing neophyte). As luck would have it, or rather as luck always seems to have it, I flubbed my double haul when it most mattered. When the water caved in around my popper I did all that I could do, which was to strike hard on fifty feet of slack line. Nobody home. Ben glanced back over his shoulder.
"Definitely five ... maybe six pounds. That was the fish we were looking for."
"Yeah, I know. Thanks."
"Too much slack."
"Yeah, I know. Thanks."
"Try to keep your line tight."
Ben's barbs hurt, but he was right. I made a rookie mistake. I couldn't blame the wind or weather. I couldn't blame the river gods. I couldn't blame my guide. My inattention and poor form cost me the thickest largemouth I've ever encountered.
Foreshadowing Disaster indeed.