Outdoor Column: Too Much Excitement

Our lake is usually a very peaceful and relaxing place to be. Sometimes it gets a bit more exciting. Damon and Zane we fishing one evening last week. The weather was pleasant and the wind was calm. They glided around, catching a fish here and there but not often enough to break the tranquility. Jag, the terrier was running around the edge of the lake, chasing frogs and an occasional mouse.


My wife and I were relaxing on the porch, watching the guys fish and watching the sun go down. It was so quiet, we could hear them talk and tell the excitement in their voices, even though we could not make out what they were saying,  when either of them caught a big fish.


They were coming toward shore when Zane made a cast toward the muskrat den. Where the muskrats swim in and out, a channel is made through the weed bed where bass like to hang out. Suddenly the voices drifting up the hill became very animated. From our vantage point, we could not tell what was happening, but it was exciting. Apparently, a muskrat was exciting his house, underwater, at about the same time Zane cast into the break in the weeds. At first he thought he had a huge bass. When it finally surfaced, his dad got excited when he saw a muskrat on the end of the line. It was one of those, “now what do we do?” moments. The two guys were scrambling around the boat gesturing frantically. We could not tell what they were doing, but Jag knew something was going on. He ran to the edge of the water to help in any way he could. They really did not need a dog in the mix at this time.


The muskrat was hooked on the tail. They let him swim around a bit to see if he could lose the hook, but that did not work. They did not want to cut the line because the muskrat would have tried to pick the lure out with his teeth and been caught by the mouth and the tail. They decided to go to shore and deal with the problem.


On shore, Zane reeled the muskrat to the beach and Damon picked it up with a fish grabber. This is similar to a forceps with large plastic jaws, designed to hold a fish without harming it. By this time, the normally mild mannered little animal had had enough and was losing patience with everyone and everything. It was ready to fight and they have teeth well suited for battle. Avoiding the teeth on one end and grabbing the tail on the other, Damon extended the muskrat toward Zane to remove the hook. By this time, Jag knew there were fun things going on and he wanted to be part of it. He was trying to jump up and grab the muskrat while Zane worked on removing the hook. Finally, the hook came loose and Zane stepped back. Damon flipped the muskrat toward the water, but it landed just short. Jag pounced and grabbed the angry muskrat it the middle of the back. It promptly reached around and sunk its teeth into Jag’s cheek. Jag yelped, let go, and went to hide behind Damon. The muskrat hurried into the water and swam away.


By the time the guys got to the house, they could see the humor in the incident. Looking back, it may be funny now but none of them want to do that again, especially Jag. It was just too much excitement on a relaxing evening.