Updated: Jan 5, 2021
The fish come out at night; that's the best time for you to find them. Other things come out at night; that's the best time for them to find you.
I love fishing, but so does my Mom, my Dad, and my Stepdad. I think my dog Ashy would like to fish too, but he's still a puppy. Even when all the lakes are frozen, I still go fishing on the weekends. It's called ice fishing, but I like to call it frost fishing. Most fish are nocturnal, so I go out at night to find them. When I come back, there's frost on the ground. Do you get it? Frost fishing.
Before last Christmas, I was frost fishing at a lake near my house. Oxbow Lake. That's the name of it. My Dad has no problem with me going out alone. He trusts I won't do stupid things, like treading on thin ice or getting a fish hook stuck in my thumb.
I found a place where the ice was solid and drilled a little hole. I put the grub on the hook and dropped it in. The lake water was dark. There was no telling how long I was going to have to wait to catch a fish.
It was 8 o'clock when I felt my first nibble. I stopped playing games on my phone and started to pull the fish up. When I got it out of the water, it flopped around like crazy. I had to snatch it from the air, like, five times before I could get a good grip of it. It was flat, tiny, and had little black spots below its eyes. It was a panfish.
When I was six-years-old, I caught a panfish. It bit me and I cried for almost an hour. I thanked the panfish for reminding me of that. I was off to a terrible start.
I flung it back in the water. The fish made a little splash and it swam back into the lake. But, as soon as it was gone... I heard something. Another splash. A bigger one, but I didn't know where it came from.
The lake was small, like, really small. I knew I was the only one there... at least that's what it looked like. I had my phone's flashlight on. I pointed it in every direction I could. I even pointed it up at the sky, but there was nothing to see except for faraway storm clouds.
My hands were shaking, but I don't think it was because I was cold. So, I did what I thought my Dad would do. Go straight home.
I took apart my fishing rod. I tucked the hook away. Then, I heard it again. This time it was so much louder! I was so scared and shaking so much that my phone fell out of my hand... and then the worst happened...
My heart stopped as I watched my phone sink to the bottom.
Below the ice, I could still see the flashlight. It was dying fast. I had to get it back, even if it meant reaching down into the cold water for it.
I wasn't going to get hypothermia over my phone. So I took off most of my jacket, my thermal, and rolled my sleeve up until my arm was exposed. I took a deep breath, then plunged my hand into the water.
It felt like my bones were freezing. I didn't scream, I was too cold to scream. As soon as I felt my phone, I dragged it out, not ever letting go of it. Even when I felt something thorny coil up against my hand, I didn't stop.
My whole arm was red and purple. I wrapped it up tightly before running all the way home, and not looking back. My Dad put my phone in rice. As for me, he made me a warm soak, and said I had to hold my arm in it for hours.
It ended up taking all night.
By the next morning, my phone was fine. My arm was warm, but there were these painful marks all over it. I don't know how I got them. I thought a muskie might've bitten me, but there were no teeth marks. Instead, there were a bunch of thin bruises. And a big one too. It was the size of an apple and kinda purple or blue.
My Dad said it would heal before Christmas, and I should wear sweaters to cover it up. He made sure I kept it hidden when it came time to visit my Mom and Stepdad. He said keeping it out of sight would help keep it out of mind. I knew why he really wanted it hidden. So, I did.
No one noticed.
Looking back, I shouldn't have done that. I should've shown it to my Mom, my Stepdad, or even Ashy, and asked them the questions I was too afraid to ask.
Questions like, "Does it look like a hand to you? Because I think it does," or, "Did anything bad happen at Oxbow Lake?" or even, "Is there something at the bottom of the lake you never told me about?"
The bruise is all gone now, but I don't go fishing at Oxbow Lake.
You shouldn't either.