The Sunday Club

by Nicholas Hall

Chapter 11

Going Fishing is just more than catching fish.

I know, so far, this seems to be more about your Daddy than the Sunday Club, old and young, but I don't apologize! Johnnie became such a large part of our lives, young Club members as well as older Club members. He was bright, energetic, inquisitive, eager to learn and experience new things, and the whole world was an adventure for him. He was so trusting of all of us, surrendering to our care and protection. Our lives changed when he entered and became an active part of them.

Although he was my little brother (half-brother) and Hardy's by association, he was the little brother to all of us and a dear member of the Sunday Club!

He was ours to love, spoil, enjoy, protect, and teach; I mean, how could we not? There were so many things we took for granted, having lived in Frenchtown all our lives (almost all of us), he'd never experienced, such as going fishing!

His first summer and year in Frenchtown with Hardy and me and the Sunday Club members, new and old, was one of one adventure after another as far as he was concerned. Johnnie never seemed to tire, even when we were wearing down. Good thing there was a good-sized group of us!

We first suggested taking Johnnie fishing after learning it was something he'd not done before, after he overheard us talking about Neil Moore and Ernie Olson, along with Adam (Sketch) Donahue and Russ (Sling) Morgan doing a "seine haul." Johnnie asked what it was and asked me. I tried to explain it but it just wasn't the same as seeing it. It was then we discovered he'd not been fishing with a pole and line either.

Well, that'd have to change! Couldn't live in Frenchtown without knowing how to use a fishing pole (or shotgun, rifle, or run a boat)- at least in our gang!

I approached Mom, Grandma, Grandpa, and Mr. and Mrs. Marchetti with the idea of taking Johnnie along with Hardy and me to Tallywackers on a Sunday, spending the night, watch Slinger and Sketch help in pulling a seine haul on Monday, plus doing some hook and line fishing for bluegill and crappie in the backwaters and catfish off the dock at Tallywackers. Maybe fish some wing dams as well for catfish.

Not only were Slinger and Sketch going to pull a seine haul, but indicated we might like to watch them check out some Fyke nets set along Carson Creek and in some of the "cuts" between islands and the mainland. Uncle Lou "suggested" if we were going to be present during the haul or lifting the nets, perhaps we could "help" relieving their efforts by removing any walleye or sauger caught in the nets and get them safely out of the way by putting them on ice in the ice chests he'd provide, and bring them to him after we finished our day at Tallywachers.

"Don't worry about gutting and filleting them," he advised. "We'll take care of that once you get them home."

All of this, of course, was highly illegal! Commercial fishermen are supposed to release all game fish (except catfish which have a size limit on them for commercial fishermen to keep). Johnnie really didn't need to know it, but I told him anyway once we were at the cabin. No sense in taking a chance he'd blurt it out accidently, not realizing the trouble we'd be in.

Summer seine hauls are generally not as productive as winter ones when the long net is stretched under the ice. Basically, this long net is run out into the river after having one end anchored firmly to the bank, a buoyed anchor rope is dropped overboard securing the net in the current, allowed to "fish" overnight, then "hauled" in the next day. It's fun to watch. A couple of guys, in a large flat boat, motor out to the end of the net, marked by a buoy of some sort, pull it and the anchor aboard, attach the rope to the boat, and with a semi-circle direction of travel up river and in toward the bank and where the crew waits by the other anchored end, draw the long net into a sort of a pouch, herding any fish within it, into a trap. This is towed to shore where the waiting crew release the net from the boat and hand "haul" the net to the shore.

The net pouch decreases in size until it is close enough to shore for the fishermen to begin scooping fish out in big dip nets and tossing them, carp and buffalo fish along with some Sheepshead, into large boxes containing ice. Each full box is loaded into another boat, if the haul is in a remote area, or, in the case of this haul, pickup trucks at the boat landing. All of this is a great deal of work but well worthwhile financially if the haul is successful.

The Fyke net is a hoop net with usually five to six large metal hoops enclosed in netting with a long "leader" of netting jutting out from the river side of the net. This forms a barrier for fish traveling, forcing them toward the hooped section of the net. Once inside the larger, hooped section of the net designed so they may enter but not escape, the fish remain alive until the fisherman arrives and lifts the shoreward end of the net. This end has a drawstring closure so the net can be opened, heisted high enough to dump the caught fish into the large wooden flat boat. There the fisherman sorts the fish by species, tossing back the game fish and keeping the rough fish. The net is indiscriminatory, as is the seine net, and catches all species of fish swimming by.

If one is careful, observant of his surroundings, and who is standing about trying to look disinterested, absent the law, undercover waiting to pounce, it is possible to collect some fine walleye and sauger for a private, yet tasty, fish fry, if that is, you're a member, whether young or old, of the Sunday Club.

All approved, enthusiastically, I might add, to taking Johnnie fishing; with one proviso, Johnnie wasn't to miss Sunday Mass, although his grandparents would make allowances to attend the seven o'clock in the morning service in order to afford him more time for his trip with us.

I asked Johnnie if he wanted to go fishing and spend the night at Tallywackers with Hardy and me. God, he hugged me so tight and kissed me while giggling joyfully! So rapt was he in his excitement, he leaped into Hardy's arms and gave him the same treatment of thanks and joy!

Hardy and I had everything ready to put in the big aluminum river boat of Uncle Lou's before we went to pick up Johnnie. The boat, which we were now permitted to use, was a sixteen foot long, fairly wide boat, with a modified V-hull and prow, powered by an electric start twenty-five horsepower motor. The boat was controlled by steering wheel and throttle assembly at a captains console (cockpit) inside a three-sided plywood front cabin. The cabin had a walk-through windshield assembly in the forward section, seats (benches also used for storage) in the rear behind the cabin, and a front forward hatch for storage as well. The cabin kept one dry in wet weather and somewhat warmer in cold in the spring and the fall.

Traveling to Tallywackers to go fishing wasn't really necessary to go fishing, although the mystic and remoteness led to the charm and allure of the adventure. We could have just as easily taken Johnnie to the City Wharf and docks, the marina, or at the boat dock in front of Uncle Lou's.

When we didn't go to Tallywackers, before we got our driver's license, and ever since we all got bicycles, we hitched one of the two special two-wheel carts Grandpa Thompson made behind our bikes, loaded it with our fishing gear, bait, and lunch or at least snacks, and rode to the river. If we were going for catfish, carp, or Sheepshead, we fished off of the City docks or in front of Uncle Lou's. If we were going for panfish, we fished at the marina.

All we caught, except for Gar, Dogfish, Skipjacks, and others, except to use as cut bait, we took home, cleaned, and ate! Speaking of bait, our bait was varied and readily available. We used natural baits such as sour clams, chicken livers, garden worms, grasshoppers, and night crawlers. The night crawlers were gathered at night when they slithered out of their holes on the golf course, the high school practice field, cemeteries, and lawns.

Commercial catfish bait was available in quart glass jars for purchase at a relatively low price. It had the odor and consistency of pig shit! Seemed like no matter how many times you washed your hands, your fingers still smelled like you broke through the toilet paper after taking a sticky, ass clinging shit! Frozen "bait shrimp" was also available for purchase only more expensive. We didn't buy it very often, but it didn't smell like pig shit!

Crazy as it may sound, we also used Blue Barrel Laundry soap! It came in bar sized packages and we cut chunks of it off and impaled it on treble hooks, fishing catfish with it. I think there must have been some oils or fats in it that attracted the catfish since we seemed to catch fish with it. It didn't cost much and didn't smell like pig shit either!

Life jackets on, gear and duffle stored away, Johnnie seated beside me on a bench, Hardy untied the ropes, I started the motor, backed us out from the dock, and started down river toward Tallywackers.

It was Johnnie's first time on the river and in a big boat. He wasn't the least bit fearful or apprehensive. He loved it and asked a b-jillion questions as we headed down river. It's about a twenty minute ride to Tallywackers and always seems to end too soon! I love the river and traveling on it! In time, we improved the lane, by laying gravel on it and adding a couple of culverts, leading from a township road so we could access the place with a pickup truck year around rather than having to wait until the ground froze up.

Johnnie peeked out through the windshield as we pulled up to the Tallywackers dock. Anxious for his first look at the cabin and anticipation of not only the fishing, but of spending the night with us in a remote cabin on the Big River. Before we even were securely docked, he spotted the smaller fishing boat pulled up on shore and tethered to a large tree. I explained, when he questioned me, we'd use the smaller boat, a fourteen foot with a ten horsepower engine (or kicker depending on where you're from) on it, to fish from. It could handle shallower water and was much easier to maneuver. We transferred out fishing equipment to the smaller boat before gathered up our personal gear, in bags, groceries, and water jugs, and headed up the incline to the cabin.

Duffels went on one of the large beds in the bedroom we usually occupied whenever we stayed overnight, fresh water jugs went to the kitchen counter, canned and other non-perishables to the cabinets in the kitchen, and fresh foods in the refrigerator. The fridge was a gas powered, absorption type and was left on most of the time. It seemed to be working fine, but Hardy still stepped out on the porch, down the steps, and tapped one of the LP one-hundred-pound steel bottles holding the fuel. There were two there but only one was presently being used. It sounded about three-quarters full he thought, but would make a note of the day we checked it in the tablet on the kitchen counter. There were several others, full and empty located in a shed that was farther up the hill. The full tanks were hauled in and the empty ones out in the winter via the lane to the county road (when the lane was fully frozen).

Johnnie watched and helped, I should add, as I put things away. I explained we always kept the cupboards, except in the winter, well stocked, wood in the wood box on the porch, and drinking water jugs full (except in the winter when we had to bring it in when we stayed overnight) in case we ever "got caught in a storm or some other problem causing us to take refuge at Tallywackers."

Everything stowed away, I announced it was time to fish, but before we left, "Anyone have to go to the bathroom?"

Johnnie got his first introduction to using an outdoor biffy to take a dump! It took some convincing, but he finally decided it was better than shitting his pants. Peeing in the woods or over the side of the boat would present no problem, but sitting on a hole in a wooden toilet was somewhat daunting I should think considering the expression on his face as he squatted and pooped.

Wiping his butt cheeks, he declared. "There, that wasn't so bad!"

The ten-horse outboard motor powered the fourteen-foot fishing boat and us nicely down river to Carson Creek and the backwaters where I intended to fish. On the way to a particular slough, I pointed out Ned Moore and Ernie Olson's cabin, explaining they lived there during Summer, Spring, and Fall. During the winter, they holed up at their place in Frenchtown. Sling and Sketch often, well mostly, stayed there as well during the summer helping them fish.

I'd spent some time, as had Hardy, instructing Johnnie on the use of his fishing pole, casting, setting the hook, and so on. We both cautioned him to be patient with using the pole and with catching fish.

Sometimes the fish don't bite!

I cut the motor to a slow speed and pointed the bow toward a back bay dotted with dead tree trunks poking above the water. About one to four feet of the trees protruded above the water line and were located in about six to eight feet of water. Perfect for crappies, if there were any!

This was one of the first fishing spots Uncle Lou brought Hardy and me to fish for crappies. I reminisced aloud to Johnnie, noting, "First place we ever fished for crappies and Hardy and I have been hooked on it ever since."

We weren't more than seven or eight years old at the time, when Uncle Lou brought Hardy and me to Tallywackers for a day of fishing. We'd fished off of the banks at Uncle Lou's and from the City docks, but not without an adult, usually Grandpa Thompson or one of the Sunday Club.

My first sight of Tallywackers left me gob-smacked! I was in absolute, total awe! I thought it was the most marvelous piece of real estate and cabin in all the world. There was nothing, in my mind, remotely comparable situated on the banks of the mighty Mississippi in the midst of the wooded banks and backwaters, abounding with wild creature, and no other humans seeming to be miles away. Adding to the lure, there were islands scattered throughout the river, sloughs, backwaters, and creeks to explore and enjoy. It was a young boy's dream and an old man's as well, since I just can't get enough of the place.

Our drinking water we brought from home, although there was a well with a hand pump up on the hillock behind the cabin which, supposedly, was safe to drink, but Uncle Lou preferred to rely on water from home. We used the water from that well for washing up, doing dishes (hot), and other non-consumption uses. There was a second, shallow sand-point well with a cistern (small hand pump) in the fish cleaning house not far from the cabin and nearer the river. The fish-cleaning house was up off of the ground on five-foot pilings, screened in, and a cleaning table inside. The pump was used to provide water to wash the cleaned fish and clean up with. We pissed in the woods and shit in an outside biffy (had to check it carefully cause once in a while a rattlesnake would show up in there, especially after high water in the spring).

When we were younger, one of the members of the Sunday Club, if Uncle Lou was not available, would take us to Tallywackers to spend the night, if there was no school on Monday, shortly after Sunday Brunch. After Skeeter joined us, after the incident at school, he too joined us for our fishing expeditions and overnight stays.

Reaching the age of ten (why this was the magic number I'll never understand), one or more of the several high school boys who worked for Uncle Lou or was well-known (in the Biblical sense) by a member of the Sunday Club, escorted us on our fishing trips and overnights. I discovered they not only were rewarded financially by Uncle Lou, but also were rewarded in taking their pleasures with us. Of course, we didn't object one bit.

Up until the fall before Jonnie came to Frenchtown, one of our main high school "chaperones" was Tom Catlin. We called him "Tomcat" 'cause he was hornier that an ally tomcat and loved to fuck- and suck, I might add! Nothing felt better than having him plunge his pole into your "fishing" hole or "polishing" up your lure!

Tom was well fit and quite the handsome lad. He dated several high school girls off and on, I think, just as a cover. Never fucked them so he claimed. Said he smelled enough fish just taking us for a weekend of fishing- didn't need to have it delivered on two feet between the legs of a female. We believed him since, as he attentions and actions toward us and some of his companions who came along "for the ride," were clearly those of affection and strong desire for the male of the human species, no matter the age.

At the time, we thought his cock was of prodigious size and girth (compared to our ten-year old stubbies) and his balls the size of apples, all protruding and hanging from a thick bush of dark pubic hair. That cock of his could stand up at attention quicker than a jack-in-the-box, especially if he happened to see our smooth, bare asses or hairless little boy dicks! Growing older and maturing ourselves, I concluded he and most of his friends accompanying him on our little "trysts" were average or so. Some were large- some smaller!

Be that as it may, the first time Tom shoved his hard, teen cock up my butt-hole, I thought it had to be a damned telephone pole. Must have been 'cause it certainly made my bell ring as he dialed out a massive load of cum inside me. You have to remember, really the only one who explored that cavern previously to any great extent was Hardy.

Hardy and I, chaperoned by Tom Catlin and his companion, Buddy Jackson, had a fantastic day of fishing. Supper was fried Crappies and Bluegill (delicious) and bed time came way too early, yet highly anticipated. Hardy and I were the only two on this particular trip and knew the way the two high schoolers were eyeballing us, desert was going to be served by us, on our bellies, butts pointed up in the air, and arses winking a greeting. Far be it from us to suggest cutting the sweets and forgoing dessert.

Hardy was kneeling next to me, turned his head, smiled and gave a wink. I returned the greeting and encouragement before sending my eyes south to that sweet, delectable buttocks of my boyfriend, and behind him, on his knees, naked, teen-cock standing at attention and ready to charge, was Buddy, primed and eager for action. Buddy scooted forward, lined up his stiff todger, nudged the small opening waiting for him, and pushed forward.

I heard him say, "Oh, my god; so tight, hot, and, just fucking great," as he pushed further into Hardy's depths.

Hardy responded, wincing in pain, "Take it slow; you're pretty big!"

I could only hope Hardy wouldn't be so stretched and loose, when I fucked him it wasn't like waving my cock around in a warm room. I thought a moment, deciding his hole would shrink back like after dumping a big turd, so it'd be fine.

It did call my attention to the waiting Tomcat, watching Buddy begin a vigorous fuck of Hardy. The show next door ramped up Tom's desire and turned his attention to the feature film- me! I turned my head to give an assessment of what was going to be entering me and the sight made me swallow nervously. I guess at the time I thought it looked like a fence pole, slick with spit, curving stiffly upright from a thick bush of hair, dripping with clear liquid, and throbbing with every beat of his heart.

I looked at Hardy, eyes shut, moaning slightly, felt the warm, wetness of spit encountering my pucker, and felt Tom's cock nudge my asshole, push forward until the thick head popped through the outer ring, gritted my teeth at the initial pain, and waited for him to sink himself balls deep!

Didn't have long to wait! God, he was so eager and horny!

Tom, now well sheathed, whimpered in pure sexual pleasure as he sunk in. Me, I worried and wondered, with the massive missile now settled on the launching pad, if I'd ever be able to control my bung long enough so I wouldn't shit my pants

His movements slowed, back and forth, back and forth, and the pain changed to pleasure for me and for him. While he fucked, he kept saying "Oh, yes!" increasing his pace, locking his arms under my arm pits, gripping me tight, with his belly resting on my back, until I felt his cock swell, twitch, swell again, and twitch some more. Each pulse of his dick emptied a hot, thick load of teen cum into my bowels. I felt every ejaculation he made, purely by the way my asshole reacted each time his cock would swell and fire.

Hardy later remarked he had the same sensation when Buddy fucked him. After Tom came in me and Buddy in Hardy, they switched. Buddy could fuck just as eagerly and completely as Tom. By morning, Hardy and I were pretty loose in the ass.

I let the boat drift until we slowed to a stop in the midst of some snags which, from their appearance and our past experience, provided a prime location for crappies. We had several dozen minnows for crappies and several dozen nightcrawlers for bluegills with us so sufficient bait would be no problem. I scooted from my seat to the middle one where Johnnie sat so I could assist him. It took several minutes of instruction and practice before he was able to cast and retrieve with few problems. He was eager to learn and, as a result, he was a fast and accurate study! I baited his hook the first few times and he watched carefully each time I did. Soon, he was doing his own.

About the fourth or fifth time he dropped his bait next to the dead tree, the bobber went "ploop" and started a slow descent, a certain signal a crappie grabbed it.

"Careful," I cautioned, "they have soft mouth so they can get off rather easy!

"Set the hook with just a little jerk; not hard, but not soft either!" I advised.

Sure enough, he did as it instructed and he had a nice crappie on the hook. His pole bent, he squealed in delight, and Hardy reached for the net.

"Work the fish easy," Hardy said encouragingly. "Keep the rod tip up and make the fish work against it rather than your arms and steer the fish toward the net."

Hardy netted the fish, a nice fourteen-inch crappie! Johnnie was so excited we thought he'd piss his pants!

Back into the water went his baited hook and the crappie went into the fish basket hanging over the side of the boat. It was a fun time in the snags!

We depleted the supply of minnows so we had no choice but to seek out other fish, namely bluegills. Of all the crappies we caught, we kept about two dozen ranging in size from ten inches long to fifteen. They were nice fish. We didn't keep any smaller on this particular trip since the catching was great and the sizes were great. Johnnie never objected or seemed disappointed when we'd assess a fish, determine it was smaller than we'd like to keep, and tossed it back in. Two dozen fish and Hardy caught two and I caught one! No matter, every time Johnnie caught a fish, laughed, and rejoiced in the matter, it was as if Hardy and I caught it as well.

Switching to another fish, bait, and part of Carson Creek Slough was a perfect time for us to have lunch. I motored us to a shady, yet a spot with a gentle breeze to disperse the bugs, anchored, and opened the ice chest with our lunch in it. Lunch consisted of ham sandwiches, orange soda, chips, and cookies. The outside air and excitement of fishing evidently built up an appetite for Johnnie, he ate as though he was famished! It tasted damn good to Hardy and me as well.

After lunch, I motored us up the Creek and off into a narrow cut leading to shallow lake where we usually had great luck with bluegills. Some days the fish were small and other days, really large ones! I showed Johnnie how to bait his hook with a half of a night crawler, set his bobber at a shallower depth since, as I explained, bluegills are often found in the shallows. It didn't take long for him to toss the baited hook next to a small brush pile and get his first bluegill. Once hooked, the fish pulled hard, as a bluegill will, and spiraled itself in circles trying to dislodge the hook or head toward a snag.

The fun started all over again! He squealed with joy, just like before, every time he hooked a fish. He was amazed how hard the smaller fish fought, especially after catching Crappies. The bite finally slowed and I suggested we take a break and try for some Channel Catfish. We counted out the bluegills we kept (only the larger ones about the size of a man's hand or larger) and had twenty-eight. Plenty of fish!

I motored us out of Carson Creek up river toward Tallywackers, but diverted our journey to a cut between the main river channel and the shore. A nice current flowed through it and there was plenty of places for catfish to lay in wait for a meal. I anchored the boat in a nice stretch of the cut and we prepared a different set of poles for catfishing. The rigs we used were really quite simple; a treble hook at the end of the line and about a foot to foot and a half up from it, another line about the same length tied with a heavier weight attached. This rig allowed the baited hook to position about a foot or so off of the bottom, floating and reacting to the current as natural as can be. A catfish just couldn't resist, so we always thought, but they did.

"So," Johnnie asked, "what'd we use for bait? Worms?"

"Nope," responded Hardy opening a jar of soured (not quite rotten but heading in that direction) clams and fishing one out and impaling it on a treble hook, then offered Johnnie a whiff of the jar's contents.

"YUK!" expounded Johnnie, pulling back quickly from the jar. "That stuff smells like poop!"

"Yep!" responded Hardy, "It surely does! Even feels like it- you know when your finger pokes through the toilet paper and even after wiping and washing, you wonder if you'll ever get the stink off!"

Johnnie raised his eyebrows in a silent question, wondering if he'd have to bait his own hooks this time as well. Before he could ask, Hardy laughed,

"Don't worry; I lost the coin toss so I'm the one who has to bait the hooks."

We fished about an hour and after a several bites, we boated only three catfish, each weighing between two and three pounds. Johnnie decided fishing for bluegills and crappies was much more fun and had more action.

After pulling the fishing boat up on the rollers on the bank in front of Tallywackers, tossing out two anchors on twenty-foot ropes, Johnnie and I dumped the days catch into a couple of buckets and carried them to the fish cleaning house while Hardy carted our empty lunch box to the cabin and returned with fillet knives, knife sharpeners, three heavy plastic bags, the heavy kind used at "Uncle Lou's," and a pair of "nippers" used for skinning catfish. They actually were made for trimming hooves of horses and other critters, but we damned nice for pulling the skin off of catfish.

Hardy skinned and market dressed the catfish, while I started filleting the bluegills. Johnnie manned the handpump drawing water from a sand point shallow well below the fishing cleaning house and rinsed each fillet as I finished it. He put the bluegills in a separate bag, as he did each of the various species, as we filleted them. Hardy joined me in the filleting of the panfish after he finished the catfish. The fish guts and skins were dumped into a separate bucket and would be hauled out into the woods away from the cabin when we were done. All in all, it took us about an hour and a half to finish the job.

Fish, bagged and in the refrigerator, and we washed up getting ready for supper. Supper consisted of hamburgers, salad, milk, and apple pie for dessert. I heated water to do the dishes and once hot, I washed, rinsed, and Hardy and Johnnie dried and put them away.

Darkness was soon upon us. I lighted one of the gas-pressure lanterns in the living area, then suggested we sit on the porch for a short while before bedtime. The light was bright enough to softly illuminate the porch, giving us light to see, but not enough to attract the bugs to us.

The night was pleasant, as was the temperature, punctuated by the night noises of critters and an occasional slap of the water as a fish surfaced to feed on an unlucky insect or frog. An occasional squawk from a surprised bird, the hoot of an owl, the sharp bark of a fox, the crickets, mosquitos, and the deep thrumping of a several bullfrogs sent forth a cacophony of nature's sounds to ease our minds and relax our bodies.

The three of us retired to bed after extinguishing the light and taking a piss. Hardy and I stripped to our underwear whereas Johnny wore his pajamas. He crawled into bed, scooting his smaller body between us. He leaned over, gave Hardy a big hug, said something to him and was rewarded with a return hug and kiss on his forehead. Johnny sighed contentedly, turned, scooched himself up my body, his resting half on and half off, until his head rested up against mine. He gave me a big hug, and said,

"I love you so much, Billy!"

"And I love you, Johnny," giving him a hug and a kiss on the forehead.

Thinking he wanted my closeness, as I wanted his, I put an arm around him and pulled him close to me so his head rested on my chest. He fell asleep in that position and remained there all the night. He was one pooped puppy!

After breakfast, we climbed aboard the big river boat and headed down river to watch the guys pull the seine "haul" and gather up any "stray" walleyes before heading back to the cabin, loading our gear, cleaning up, and going home.

The seine haul was a good twenty minutes down river and taking place, but relatively remote and seldom used boat landing. Neal Moore and Ernie Olson's straight truck with its four-foot high side walls, was backed up close to the landing, and strategically located so the catch could be scooped up in big nets and tossed into the truck. The fish would be taken to a local market where they would be market dressed, iced, and shipped out. There were also several pickup trucks parked at the landing as well, their drivers "available to help," but really were hoping for a few walleye and sauger to take home.

I cut the motor, drifted into shore, where Hardy jumped out the front and secured us with an anchor on the shoreline.

"No walleyes today," I said to Hardy speaking low enough so I wouldn't be heard by others and pointing at two cars parked at the landing. One car had the insignia of the Fish and Wildlife Service on the door and the other had the insignia of the State Conservation Commission on it. Standing by one of the vehicles, watching with interest and care, was the State Game Warden and a Federal Warden.

We walked to where we could have a good view of the action as the guys pulled in the large net. I pointed out to Johnny how hard the work was, but could be rewarding if the catch was good. Johnny nodded and when Sketch looked up, he shouted out,

"Hi, Sketch!" and waved enthusiastically.

Sketch grinned, waved back, said something to Sling, Ernie, and Neal (who all waved and shouted Hi in return), before walking toward us.

Giving Johnny a hug, he also said softly, "Lucked out this morning when we raised the Fyke nets. There's a dozen and a half walleyes filleted in the refrigerator at Neal's cabin. Stop by and pick them up. Be lots of disappointed people today with the law hanging around and all."

We watched about an hour, noticing the haul was not really a success. The guys didn't catch many compared to a normal amount, but Johnny thought it was bunch so he was satisfied.

Gear stored in the big boat, fish fillets on ice, Tallywackers shut down and buttoned up, I opened up the motor on the big boat, and headed us home. To say Johnny had a good time would definitely be an understatement. I really don't know who enjoyed it more on our first outing together, Johnny or Hardy and me. I knew it wouldn't be the last.

"How lucky I am," I thought glancing back at Johnny and Hardy on one of the bench seats with Johnny scooched up against Hardy, "to have a little brother such as Johnny and a boyfriend so loving, patient, and understanding as Hardy."

What a life!

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