Fish Drama in a One-Act Play

Homes and boats on Round Lake in Charlevoix, Michigan. Lake Charlevoix connects to Round Lake which connects to the Pine River Channel which leads to Lake Michigan.

Friday, July 30, 2021

I’m about to walk across the drawbridge in Charlevoix when I see a man and a woman standing along the Pine River Channel on the other side of the bridge. The pair are in their late 50s, maybe early 60s. He wears a fishing hat and clutches a fishing pole that’s arched over the water. He works to reel in a fish that fights to remain in the water. She wears a pastel-colored shirt and pair of shorts and clasps a fishing net that’s perpendicular to the water. She’s waiting to scoop up the fish once it has been reeled in, ending any chance it has of slipping back into the channel. They are a team.

I stop to watch the battle between man and woman and fish. In front of me, three young teenage girls have already stopped to watch. All of them wear their golden hair in braids. I walk forward a few steps so I’m even with them but keep my distance. I don’t want to break the spell. Their large smiles have pushed their cheeks into rose-colored apples and their eyes twinkle, telegraphing their joy. We all watch the man lift his pole and crank his reel. He’s playing with the fish, letting it wear itself out. We all watch the woman move the net closer to the water in anticipation, then watch her back away when the fish retreats.

The girls huddle together, like teenage girls do. Their hands are empty. The cellphones I expected to see in their palms, protrude from their pockets. Watching the fish action is better than Snapchat, TikTok, or Instagram. They’re immersed in this moment, no lenses between them and the man-woman-fish drama.

Suddenly the woman swoops the net into the water and pulls up the fish. The man bends down and unhooks it. As he slips his fingers through the gill and lifts the fish, the three girls applaud loudly and laugh joyfully. Unfortunately, the man and woman don’t hear the clapping because of the traffic noise and their position on the opposite side of the channel.

I cross the bridge and get a better look at the fish—it’s big, a keeper. The man and woman pack up their gear and their one-and-only, but good-sized fish. I know what he and the woman are having for dinner.

And I know what the three girls will talk about at dinner.

[More information about fishing the Pine River Channel and Round Lake area.]

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