The agony of defeat

July 7, 2008

Faith Outdoors

I was so close I could taste it. It was my annual Fourth-of-July fishing outing with my good friend, Dave Altman. We were on Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis at 7:30 a.m. the morning of the Fourth. The weather was gorgeous and we caught bass on the first spot we tried that day.

The fish seemed to be active, so I suggested heading across the lake to a spot where we had caught fish before. In fact, I caught my two biggest bass last year on that spot — a 20-incher and a 19 1/2-incher. I was pumped for tangling with some big fish.

I turned my new electric trolling motor up to full power and headed for the spot. We were almost within casting range when the motor died. This created a huge dilemma — the lake does not allow the use of outboard motors and we had neither a backup electric motor (I left it at home) nor any oars.

So, we were stranded. There was only a slight breeze and we would have to wait a long time for the boat to drift into shore. Then, we would have to walk the boat along the shore and across a channel to the boat landing.

Finally, I decided to try to reach the Minneapolis Police Department so I could get permission to start up my outboard motor and get back to the landing. I dialed 911 and got transfered to the Minneapolis Park Police, who gave me permission to use the outboard.

Thus, the fishing trip ended soon after it had begun. I went home very disappointed. It’s not easy getting both good weather and good fishing on the same day. Not only that, Dave and I didn’t get the time on the water together that we both enjoy and look forward to every year. We’ve had some memorable trips on the Fourth and this outing could have ranked up with the best, based on the way it started.

Because no repair shops or hardware stores were open on the Fourth, I had to wait until Saturday to start diagnosing the problem. I ended up taking the boat and motor to the Motor Clinic in Bloomington, the MinnKota electric trolling motor factory-authorized repair shop where I had bought the motor in February. It was a reconditioned Maxxum 80-pound thrust bow-mount trolling motor and I was able to have the repair technician who sold me the motor take a look at it.

I took the motor off the boat and brought it into the shop. Terry, the technician, plugged it in and tried it. To my surprise, the motor worked fine. We then went outside and Terry examined my 24-volt battery system and said one of the fuses looked blown. He wasn’t able to pull it out because the plastic housing had melted and deformed. He suggested that I buy circuit breakers to replace the fuses, which I did. I will try to install them and, hopefully, get the motor back up and running. After all, there are lots of bass out there waiting to be caught.

If I can get this motor problem fixed, I will call Dave back to get out on the water again. He is a model of patience and he helped calm me down on the water when the motor quit. I’m grateful to have strong Christian and Catholic friends like him. May God grant us another opportunity to chase bass together on Lake Calhoun!

About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

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