By Heather Blair/OC Monitor Community Contributor
My husband and I share a love of fishing. As one of our favorite pastimes, we have an abundance of fish tales, like the time a snake got in our car while on a fishing trip…or the time my phone sunk to the bottom of Green River. But my favorite, and perhaps the funniest, is from a family vacation several years ago.
Over the years, we’ve discovered several nooks and crannies of Kentucky Lake and haven’t found a part we don’t love. For this vacation, we chose a section of the lake nestled on the Tennessee side. It was a peaceful part of the lake and, thanks to a pet-friendly search, we discovered a quaint tiny cabin nestled in the woods nearby.
Our boat isn’t much to look at, but we enjoy that it can handle everything we like to do on the water, from fishing to racing down the waterway, to tubing. The cove and area we stayed in was perfect for all three, especially since boat traffic was almost non-existent during the week.
We were able to dock our boat at a marina just up the road from our cabin. This made boating easy and gave us the convenience of going in and out of the water anytime we wanted. My husband could sneak out in the morning for a fishing trip and watch the sunrise. We could come in for lunch to cool off and nap in the afternoons – or drive the boat to a nearby resort for a quick bite. If our son wanted to tube, we just loaded in the float, tossed our fishing gear on the dock, and headed back on the waterway.
The best part of having the boat docked was when we wanted to swim, we didn’t have to be stuck in wet bathing suits the rest of the day. Once finished, it was just a hop, skip and jump back to the cabin to shower and rinse the lake off us.
This was especially helpful the day we decided to take our dogs for a swim. Most dogs love water and jump in paws first with joyful excitement. Chihuahuas…not so much. Already cold by nature, being wet just adds to their shaking!
Our oldest, Patch, loved boating; he just preferred to stay inside the vessel at all times. As Suzie was still a puppy, we hoped an early trip would teach her to love it. Not the case. They both shriveled up and scampered to the top of our heads, racing for the highest point of dry safety. Being so close to our dock and cabin, we wrapped them in a towel and returned to the cabin for a quick bath and the warmth of their kennels.
After my husband’s scary experience later that day, while swimming in the lake, he probably wished I’d done the same for him.
Our first day out we began scoping the best spots for swimming. Even though we have a ladder on the back, we prefer an area where you can wash ashore and find a spot of private beach. We noticed a long piece of shoreline that boats seemed to frequent and, finding it empty the next day, decided it would be our swimming hole.
The section was actually a small island in the center of the lake. The water was cool, even though the fish-finder registered it in the 90s. When temperatures are 110 in the shade, water feels good regardless! With the radio streaming in the background, we splashed around and enjoyed the afternoon.
After a short while, a pontoon approached and sadly interrupted our private retreat. We chatted for a bit with our new neighbors and then waded out a little further, hoping for some solitude.
Yelping, my husband let out an audible screech, but, ever the jokester, I figured he was just trying to spook me. Seconds later a louder “OUCH!” exhaled as his body forcefully jumped out of the lake and into the air, coming down in a splash. This time, I paid attention, all the while swimming backward to the shore with my eyes on the scene.
I’m screaming, “What! What!” while he’s yelling he just got bit by a fish, as we’re both splashing our way back to the boat. Our son is watching from the shore, thinking we’ve both gone nuts, and from the side, I see the pontoon group chuckling.
Thoroughly freaked out, but in the safety of knee-high water, I decide I can now check on my dear husband. He’s rubbing his chest, somewhat laughing, somewhat disturbed, as he explains that a fish took a nibble on his chest. The first time was a taste test and a slight annoyance; however, the fish must’ve liked the sampling, as, upon return, the second bite was more forceful.
“I heard him chomp!!” he exclaimed.
At this point, we are rolling in laughter, as is the group beside us. All at once the men stand displaying childish circular floats strategically placed to cover their chests. An older man shouts, “Did you think we were wearing these because we couldn’t swim?!”
Surprisingly, hubby did get back in the water after his encounter, though not without an arm or float protecting his chest! And he was officially nicknamed, “fish bait” which has stuck all these years later and is relived each time we take a dip in the lake.
Heather Blair is a Kentucky girl at heart, growing up in a small town she’ll never leave and has a love for backroads and bluegrass landscapes. She finds joy in the little things, like butterflies and farmers markets, friends and family gathered at the table and catching more fish than her hubby. Her best-selling novel is currently in her head but, in the meantime, she has been published online for over a decade.