Under the shade of the willow, we wait for the fish. Our two lines, waterproof electric cord and a fiber-optic cable, go to one bait: an underwater TV. The fish gather. They're thrilled by scenes of spawning, of brave small fish escaping pike and shark, of feasts of cricket and worm and new Mayfly pizza from Pizza Pond.
"My scales are slick and my eyes bright since I tried Pisces Cereal."
"More energy for swimming upstream."
In this week's episode of Super Bream a careless man dumped a pair of piranhas in a lake in Indiana. After they multiply, their gang is murdering other fish. They swagger and sneer. "Try it, cop!" They craft the tough old walleye, former peak of the food chain, into a shiny set of walleye bones. Then Super Bream, swimming at amazing speed, destroys the piranhas, nipping off their fins, tails, and heads. All the grateful bream, trout, and minnows feast on the bodies of the bad guys, wriggling with joy before the station break.
The fish who've been watching the show drift away from the set sometimes, still mesmerized, and swim into our dip nets. Sometimes they trade us -- they've gathered plankton, stones, golfballs and coins from the bottom of the lake. Occasionally a nice lure. They use their credit. They give us their minnows. After all, there are so many, and so many will be eaten by turtles, big fish, frogs. While most fish don't have much family feeling, our scholarship offer doesn't hurt, either. The fish wear jewelry now, deodorant, slime enhancer: they buy toenail clippers and tickets to Disney World. They thank us as we drop them in our bucket, smile as we pull them out for the long knife.
Joe and I used to drop a stick of dynamite in the lake once in a while. I got a kick out of blasting, but the sound brought game wardens, and this works just as well.