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Trotlines the lake’s most common trouble causer

Of all the complaints I received while working on the lake (any lake), the most common was, “somebody cut out my trot-lines,” or the worse one, “somebody has been running my trot-line!”

Of course, the folks that work those trotlines are mostly doing it for their living or at least to put food on their table. Now, if you think that’s not hard work, I invite you to try it sometime!

But now, if you have an urge to let someone else do all the work, and while they are not looking, get their fish—better think again. We didn’t have much legal means of catching someone in that act—not marked by the owner or “someone told me I could run their line.”

Anyway, I have witnessed many people who were mad enough to do anything to someone stealing their fish, and on one occasion had some young people burst through my door one afternoon to escape the wrath of a fisherman who had seen them run his line! “Mad” was not the word for it.

Along those lines, I had a man ask me if it was against the law to shoot his own fish. How do you answer that? I shrugged my shoulders and said something like, “of course not!” Years later, a man I didn’t know came over to my table just as I was enjoying my coffee and very calmly asked, “Have you had a report of a boat sinking down below the island?” Nope. “I just shot a bunch of my fish that were in this fellow’s boat, and as I was leaving, it was sinking!”

I didn’t hear the last part as I rushed out the door and checked it out. There was no boat or person anywhere in that location, but things like an old cushion, paddle, ice chest, etc. But no fish loaded with buckshot.

Anyway, I went back to the cafe and asked, “Did anybody know that man who was just in here?” Nope. “Seen him before?” Nope.

That’s one thing about us “river rats”: we don’t talk much. Now, I know that I must have told that story to somebody before, but I don’t know whom. Was it a prank? You can bet the fellow with a hole in his boat didn’t report it!