Just exactly whose idea and when the notion of a carp competition came about, no one really remembers. But for the past several meetings of the Ostrich Society in the president’s garage, the thought grew and grew until like the Grinch’s heart, it quadrupled in size and the talk of it dominated the conversation.
From the back table, Red Abercrombie began by offering to organize the event provided someone helped develop the rules.
Jake Mortimer chuckled and said, “What rules, we’re talking about fishing for carp. The winner is going to be the guy that throws out the biggest doughball on the sharpest treble hook.”
“Whoa,” chimed Red. “This is going to be a competition, not a catfish hunt. This is a fly fishing activity. To make it interesting, I’ll put up a gallon of my watermelon wine for first prize.”
“Yea, who’s going to keep you from drinking it before someone wins it?” was heard to come from one of the tables as the entire membership laughed. Even Red had to chuckle.
The president hit the ballpeen hammer on the workbench to regain order. “I think that’s a good idea, to have written rules. We’ll use big print so all of you can read them. Understanding is going to be another matter.”
All eyes turned to Jake. “Remember, Jake, poaching is a way of cooking fish. Nothing else.” Said Hugh Highhat.
“Listen, I take exception to that. Just because some of you pooled your money and bailed me out of the County jail when that overzealous DNR startup locked me up for what he called illegal taking of fish, doesn’t mean I was poaching. The case is still pending.”
“Ok,” the president chimed in, cutting of more comments amidst a howl of laughter.
The meeting went on and a rules committee was formed and chaired by Oscar Thornbush, a retired lawyer. Oscar was in his early 80’s and considered a mentor to a group of rascals who needed to be put in touch with their conscience on occasion.
The meeting was adjourned with the promise the committee would meet and have the details worked out by the next meeting.
Within several days of the meeting, Jake Mortimer stood before the Honorable Judge Cletus Crookshank.
Jake was stoic and sober and confident of being let off due to insufficient evidence. He was defending himself and had only one question for the young DNR officer who was called by the judge to testify.
The DNR officer testified he observed the defendant take steelhead by scooping fish with a net. He said there was no hook in the fish’s mouth and no line in the water. All he observed was Jake Mortimer scoop a net into the water and haul in a steelhead.
It was Jake’s turn to ask questions. “When you ticketed me, did I produce a fishing license … or any kind of identification?’
“No, sir. You said you lost your wallet,” the young officer replied in a matter of fact tone, thinking Jake had just hooked himself by admitting he didn’t have a license to even be there, let along fish, let along fish illegally.
“No further questions.” Jake said looking at Judge Crookshank. “Now judge, I’d like to tell you my side of what happened. I can see where the young officer could be confused, but there is a logical explanation to what happened that day.”
Jake began by complimenting the judge about an article he had written for the local newspaper about the difference between making a mistake and intentionally violating the law. “Things happen,” Jake quoted the judge as saying, and said, “That’s just what happened here.”
“While I was drifting in my drift-boat, I stood to stretch and checked my coat pocket for my wallet to make sure I had my fishing license. As I pulled out my wallet, the boat struck a rock. Well, it jarred the boat so hard, I dropped my wallet.”
Judge Crookshank asked what that had to do with him scooping fish with a net. “License or no license, you can’t do that.” He said.
“But I wasn’t scooping fish with that net, I was trying to scoop my wallet from the gravel bottom. The fish must have swam into the net just by chance.” You see, he went on, “I didn’t have any intent of netting fish. I just wanted my wallet.
”The Judge paused for a moment then with a silent chuckle said, “All right, you talked your way out of this one, but don’t ever come before me again.”
At the next meeting of the Ostrich Society, after the usual banter and two-fingers of bourbon, the president called for the recommendations from the rules committee for the up-coming carp competition.
Oscar Thornbush got up and said that he had met with his old law partner, the Honorable Judge Cletus Crookshank, and told him about his job of coming up with rules for a fishing competition. After discussing different possibilities, they both liked the idea of only one rule …no nets allowed.
The above is recorded in club minutes as…THE TRUTH, WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH ….give or take a lie or two!