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Happy birthday to me


June 13, 2002|By AL KALIN, Staff columnist

Happy birthday," Patti announced one morning last week as she greeted me with a cup of coffee brewed from freshly ground Kenya AA coffee beans.

"What a way to start a birthday," I told her as I sniffed the delicious fumes rising from the steaming cup and took my first sip of the strong brew. Kenya AA is currently priced higher then many street drugs so we don't get to enjoy it very often.

I was still buzzing from the Kenya caffeine rush when I saw Gerry later that morning. He told me Allen, a regular fisherman on the dikes, had stopped by the shop earlier to show off his limit of huge corvina he'd caught at Obsidian Butte.

"Are you very busy today?" I asked him.

"Nope," Gerry replied.

"Well that settles it," I told him continuing, "A birthday needs to be celebrated properly. I'll run home and get my tackle and meet you at the boat. A fellow shouldn't have to work on his birthday when the fish are biting."


Two fishermen struggled to lift their limit of 10 huge corvina out of their boat as I backed Mogambo II down the launch ramp.

"They caught 'em out by the Stick," the park ranger said when I asked him. "Every boat that's come in this morning has limited out. Sure hope you guys aren't too late."

Moments later we were drifting by the north side of the Stick when I hooked up to a bruiser on my third cast with a chartreuse/black back Swimmer. The husky fish ripped off 50 yards of line as it streaked for deeper water but I finally turned it and started gaining line.

"Get the net ready!" I hollered to Gerry as the fish greyhounded back to the boat. Gerry was ready as the corvina attempted to dive under the boat and with a mighty heave I raised his head enough for Gerry to scoop him up. But when he lifted the net out of the water it was empty and my reel screamed as the line went through the large hole torn in the bottom of the net.

I'm sure what followed looked like a Chinese fire drill as we tried to pass the rod and reel through the gapping hole so I could continue the fight. I finally put my reel in free-spool to keep from breaking the rod, which was bent double under the boat. A miracle of miracles, the fish was still hooked when we untangled the net from my rod and reel and I worked the corvina back to the boat. By now the 12-pound fish was tired and Gerry was able to lift it out of the water and place it in the boat's live well to keep it fresh.

The bite seemed to end after boating my fish so we zoomed over to Obsidian Butte. As we approached, dozens of fishermen lined the shore while half a dozen stood casting, waist deep in the water, farther out. Two were hooked and fighting fish as Gerry and I began to cast. On our second drift we dropped the anchor because the current was too fast and soon Gerry was hooked solid to a huge corvina that made a run toward the fishermen near the shore.

Gerry finally turned the fish and had it coming back to the boat when it stopped. No matter how hard Gerry tugged, the fish wouldn't come closer. Instead it just thrashed its head on the surface. That's when we realized a fisherman from shore also was hooked to the same fish. Two separate lines came out of the fish's mouth and went in opposite directions as he thrashed on the surface.

At Gerry's suggestion I pulled the anchor and ran the boat in close to the shore where the dozens of fishermen were starting to resemble a mob.

"Cut your line, cut your line!" they chanted as we drew near.

"I caught him first!" Gerry hollered back to the growing crowd. The situation was turning nasty and I noticed one lady on the shore was waving a big cast-iron frying pan.

When we were out of range of frying pans, rocks and 3-ounce egg sinkers flung from 12-foot surf rods, I turned the boat and we left Dodge and headed for the boat ramp as Gerry removed his lure and released the 17-pound monster in our live-well. We loaded the boat in record time and made a mad dash out of the marina. It's not cool to be lynched on your birthday.

>> Al Kalin is currently laying low but can usually be reached on the Internet at

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