Hook, line and stinker

Published 5:18 pm Monday, April 27, 2020

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The stay-at-home order has resurrected the avid fisherman that lives within me. With the weekends wide open and no resumption of sports in sight, my favorite place to be has been on the water with a rod and reel in my hands. This past weekend’s experience ended drastically different than any other fishing trip I’d ever been on — it ended in the hospital.

Sunday morning around 6 a.m., my brother Shane Peele and I woke up at his home in Tarboro, loaded up the johnboat that’s been a part of our family for nearly 30 years and headed towards a fishing hole he knew about in Battleboro.

It was a picture-perfect morning. We grabbed McGriddles and hashbrowns and headed onward into the densest fog I’ve seen in quite some time.

As we pulled onto a dirt path, heading into the deep abyss of the forest, I knew we were in for a treat. The fog hovered above the surface of a beautiful pond surrounded by overhanging trees and bushes — a fisherman’s paradise.

I thought I was prepared for the 81-degree sunny day that was forecasted, but the sun was buried behind the clouds for most of the morning, and I wasn’t as prepared as I thought. I had a tackle box full of bright and pretty colors, but on a cloudy day, they don’t work as well as the black-and-white-striped Berkley BangOLure Shane was using. He racked them up, catching and releasing eight beautifully colored and marked largemouth bass, including a brim that might’ve had as bad a day as I did.

I dug deep into my tackle box, searching for something — anything I thought might catch the attention of a fish, but to no avail. After trying 10-plus lures and lazily not stowing a couple of them away properly, I continued without a second thought.

The sun started to creep out, and I knew it was time for the bright, chartreuse spinner bait to be put to work.

After using it for a short time, I overconfidently casted that spinner bait between a post and tree, and wrapped it around a tree limb. Shane backed the boat toward the tree, and I unraveled it, but before I could turn around and sit down, the boat moved forward and I went with it. I crashed to the deck hard. I knew I was fine, but I felt a sharp pain in my left buttocks and thought, “Oh, no.”

I calmly looked at my brother with a slight grin on my face and said, “Shane, there’s a hook in my (gluteus maximus).”

After we calmed down from the laughter, I tried to stand up, only to find out that the treble-hooked jitterbug had not only buried itself into one of my cheeks, but also into the tackle box that rose up with me. Mid-laughter, Shane unhooked it from the tackle box and got the boat back on land.

I made a few gentle tugs to see if I could remove it myself, because I knew there was no way I’d allow my older brother, of all people, to pull it out.

After sitting sideways on my right hip for the 20-minute drive to Vidant Hospital in Tarboro, I hopped out of the car and walked into the ER with a lure hanging on me like a Christmas ornament.

I was in and out within an hour and a half. Nurses, doctors and other patients alike all got a real good chuckle out of it, made their best jokes and sent me on my way.

It was likely one of the worst days I’ve ever had from a fishing standpoint, but the amusement it brought everyone else around me made it worth all the trouble.

If there’s one thing this health crisis has given everyone, it’s the opportunity to be closer, share laughter and create memories with the family. This is one I’ll cherish forever.