Return of the Red-Eye
By Larry Bozka
Dreams are supposed to be weird, and mine have never been exceptions.
Still, it was pretty bizarre to see Yoda decked out in neoprene waders.
His elfin, bat-like ears sprouted right and left beneath a long-billed bonefish cap, tangled tufts of curly gray hair coiling from their bases. In his gnarly, three-fingered hands he held a thick, 8-foot-long Plano rod case. An empty reel box sat nearby.
The jet-black orbs of his eyes wandered as the munchkin-like alien shifted his gaze toward me. I sat atop a white Yeti ice chest in the far corner of the cavern, disoriented and confused, wondering why this dream was not the one I had ordered just before lights-out … the one about Katherine Heigl and Reese Witherspoon fighting over me while I watch from the flying bridge of my new 62-foot Hatteras.
The little green guy’s nasally voice snapped me out of it.
“Big trout you want.”
“Deny it not, young Lurewalker. Big trout you want.”
“Well, yeah; if it’s not gonna be Katherine or Reese, I’ll go with a big trout.”“Silence!”
he hissed. “You have much to learn.”
“Right, like not eating fried Twinkies at bedtime.”
“Funny you think you are. A deception it is. For 35 years you have sought the 10-pounder. It is success you fear, Lurewalker.”
“Fear? Fear of success???
Dude, you’ve been watching way too much Dr. Phil.”
It’s hard to tell when the Yoda-meister is frowning, but I’m sure I detected an extra wrinkle.
“Again, fun you make of your destiny. Fear is the path to the dark side, Lurewalker, to waters dirty, winds that mightily blow and much locking of trout jaws. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Of your suffering you speak not; yet, I know. I have seen your losing of fish. Many large trout, they were. The 31-inch beast roams Lake Calcasieu still.”
“Hey, bud; that was not my fault. Those cheap-[censored] split rings cut the line.”
“And the 30-1/2-incher of San Luis Pass? Does not that leviathan swim still today?”
“Yeah, yeah … swim free it does. Oh for God’s sake, now you have me doing it. That fish was a no-win deal, Yodester. It was either back off the drag or pull out the hook, and I can’t help it that the damn thing swam straight to the nearest bridge piling. You telling me you could’ve caught that fish?”
“The Fear, Lurewalker. In its grip you suffocate. Embrace it you must.”
“Tell it to Oprah, Yoda-Man. The only thing I want to embrace is a 10-pound speckled trout.”
“And you shall, it someday may be. But in your quest a great many miles you must first wade. Crotch-deep mud bottoms in your way stand.”
With a deft flick of his thumb he unsnapped the lid of the jet-black rod case. Then, a few inches at a time, he ceremoniously extracted a striking 7-foot trout rod.
The blank radiated neon red in the cave’s murky gloom, its titanium guides reflecting the brilliant shimmer of a 14-carat gold baitcasting reel. The handle was encased in Grade A Portuguese cork. Forward of the trigger, the blank emitted an incessant electric hum.
“Remember, Lurewalker; with great power comes great responsibility.”
“Uh, isn’t that Spiderman’s line?”“Question The Maker not!”
he answered sharply. “Permission for copyrighted material the Great Lucas has granted, and receive royalties he will. Your quest is yours to make, or trying you die. The backlash you fear, and beware it you must.”
“Backlash? What backlash?”
“Deny it not, Lurewalker. Of the backlash you know well.”
“Like you’ve never messed up a cast.”
“It is not I who must conquer the fear, Lurewalker. The tide it calls you. The 10-pound trout; it is your destiny.”
“So am I going to catch it or not?”
“This only you can answer, Lurewalker. You are a Red-Eye Knight. Only you, only a Red-Eye Master, can use the star drag. Surrender not to Darth Wader. Use the star drag, Lurewalker … Use the star drag!“MAY THE DRAG BE WITH YOU!!! …”
Mercifully, my cell phone rang, less than a foot from my pillow. My buddy Mark was on the line, almost yelling.
“Dude, it’s right. I mean RIGHT!!! The water looks awesome. Remember that place on the channel where you hooked and lost that mondo trout last March? That’s the spot, man, and it’s on, big-time … well, so long as you don’t screw up again.”
“Oh please. Not you, too…”
“Forget it. You wouldn’t understand.”
“Okay. Whatever. I’ll meet you in an hour.”
“You all right?”
“If you mean ‘Have Katharine and Reese started fighting over me?’ the answer is no.”
“You know I’m your friend, man. We go a long way back. But buddy, sometimes you are one strange dude.”
“No idea you have, amigo. I mean, you have no idea.”
“I’ll see you at the ramp. And I’m bringing a new trout rig. Something tells me this is the day.”
With that I got off the phone and retrieved the baitcasting rig from the garage. I peeled the plastic off of the handle, twisted on the reel and reached for a brand-new spool of 12-pound-test monofilament atop a high shelf.
Lose another huge speck? Miss the strike? Blow that single precious shot at a wallhanger trout again?
I’m afraid not.