Fishing with a Labrador Retriever, Johnboat, worm, and bobber

By Anthony Buccino

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The fact is, it is hard to pull a fat, wet, struggling dog into a twelve foot boat without falling in. I got her in every time without taking the big dunking...


The first year I had my johnboat, I took Libby, my black Labrador retriever, fishing with me at Lake Musconetcong in western New Jersey.

Fortunately, I was not too serious about fishing that day because Libby took to the lake like she had canvasback in her A.K.C. lineage.

All Labrador retrievers, Libby included, have webbed feet and what is described as an otter tail that acts like a rudder to help them swim.

I should have realized Libby would enjoy the water and mud, after all, Labradors are used to retrieve ducks from half frozen marshes in winter.

Libby was having the time of her young life.

I regretted showing her, or, I admit, throwing her, out of the boat and into the water.

I tried to row away from her but she swam faster than I rowed.

When she climbed into the boat, she got even with me for trying to leave her behind.

I remember seeing a doggy boat ramp in a catalog, but I hadn’t ordered it.

Libby got her monstrous front paws on the side of the boat and looked at me to help get the rest of her seventy pounds of fat, smelly, wet dog into the boat.

How could I resist that look? It was the same look she used on me at the puppy store to make me pick her out above all the other pups.

The fact is, it is hard to pull a fat, wet, struggling dog into a twelve foot boat without falling in. I got her in every time without taking the big dunking myself.

I was surprised how much water she could hold when she shook herself and I got a lake water shower.

Undaunted, I cast my worm and bobber ten yards away.

Libby jumped into the water making a sound like a toilet flushing and brought my tackle back.

I was afraid she’d bite into the hooks, so I quit fishing and just tossed the broken bobber for her.

After a short time of her jumping out of the boat and into the water giving me private showers, I was as wet as if I had done the jumping in and out of the boat.

When my borrowed electric motor clogged with weeds, I leaned over the stern and tilted the prop up to clear it.

Libby thought it was the most interesting thing in the world.

Water gushed in over the transom and Libby’s big head nudged my elbow as if directing my arm to the weeds she wanted me to pluck. One quick elbow put her in her own end of the boat. I bailed out the flood with a sponge.

It was a long time before I took her fishing again.


Adapted from “Fishing Time’s Coming” in  A Father's Place - An Eclectic Collection

First published in New Jersey State Federation Sportsmen News, Feb. 1995

Copyright © 1995 by Anthony Buccino

Also read: Retrieving Labrador Days - dog tales in prose and verse

ANTHONY'S WORLD

Anthony Buccino


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New Jersey author Anthony Buccino's stories of the 1960s, transit coverage and other writings earned four Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism awards.

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