That’s far enough, Larry!

Fred Diebold with artwork by Ben Beaty
That’s far enough, Larry!

Based upon a true story!

We all have our funny fishing stories, but this one went on for days and was just too funny not to write about it.

Back in the day, I was employed as an electrical engineer and had a separate printing and blueprinting company as well.

Enter Slick Larry, a salesperson of blueprint paper and fisherman extraordinaire. Our printing company used blueprint paper from the most competitive suppliers. Larry’s company was not the most competitive, so he had to resort to other tactics to get our business.

Over lunch one day Larry explained what great fisherman he and his buddy were by showing me photos of long stringers of fish they had caught. I admit, it was impressive. He also revealed that he and his buddy had recently bought a Boston Whaler saltwater fishing boat. If you know anything about saltwater fishing boats, this is a top of the line saltwater fishing boat.

Larry asked if I liked to go fishing? I confessed I was not much of a fisherman. All I catch is bottle bass, (fishing terminology for I need another beer).

I tried to wiggle out of any potential invite, claiming I was too busy.

Larry wasn’t having it. “Look,” he said, “There’s a major holiday coming up. We could outfit you with rod and reel, waders, bait, etc. And besides, between your two jobs you’re due for some relaxation and Port O’Connor is the perfect place to do that.”

Not having a good enough excuse not to go, the trip was on. You have the actors, the place and now the– “That’s far enough, Larry” fishing story.

Day 1

Our first day comprised traveling for hours with a boat in tow to Port O’Connor. We checked into our fishing motel that gave us a very musty room with three beds. As we settled in, based upon the smell, I wondered how many fish had been cleaned in the bathtub or sink we were now using to brush our teeth.

At dinner that evening I was told, or rather warned, we were going to get bait, etc., at the Pier Bait Shop, before the crack of dawn (5:00 am to be precise). I had to remind myself, this is what they call relaxing.

Since I was the inexperienced or novice angler, I was told my only function would be to stand alongside the truck and boat and let Larry know when the truck’s rear wheels were about to touch the water. Just before the wheels of the truck touches the water, I was to loudly proclaim, “That’s far enough, Larry!”

The first morning…

The 19” black and white TV in the motel room had a channel that displayed a multitude of gauges depicting local weather and water conditions in detail – air temperature, water temperature, wind direction and speed, barometric pressure, etc. You get the picture.

While struggling to get into the newly purchased brown waders and various other gear, Larry and his fishing buddy would lay out a well-worn map of the area on one of the beds. Based upon their map readings and data from the TV, they would decide the best place to fish.

While Larry and his buddy were discussing the best place to fish, I looked in the mirror and thought my appearance was somewhere between a clown or one of those faded black and white pictures of fishermen you’ve seen hanging on a wall some place.

We arrived at the pier at 5:00am. At the end of the pier was the old bait shop run by a guy with windswept eyes, a full beard, and a beer in his hand. Remember now, this is at 5:00am. The bait shop was an old rundown smelly shack with dead bait and live bait in tanks of bubbling water. Larry and his long-time friend knew all the lingo and what to ask for, what the reds were biting on, etc.

In my clown suit; I mean waders, I assumed my position of importance alongside the truck and boat with my back to the pier near the water's edge.

Larry skillfully backed the boat and trailer into the water alongside the pier. I watched by the water's edge, knowing the importance of my job as the truck moved backwards, pushing the boat and trailer into the water.

Larry’s fishing buddy, not totally trusting my first day at my assigned job, stood by in case I suddenly got laryngitis, a stroke, struck blind, or was Raptured.

Finally, I uttered my famous words along with my raised a right arm, just in case Larry suddenly went deaf on me. “That’s far enough Larry!”

In the meantime, the old bait shop owner with the full beard and holding a beer, came out on to the pier above us, leaning on a lamppost, watching us launch the boat.

Larry’s friend nodded, confirming my “That’s far enough, Larry” signal was valid. Larry’s buddy proceeded to the front of the hitched boat. Meanwhile, Larry was patiently waiting in the truck for a signal to go forward, indicating the boat was launched.

Larry’s friend began to push the boat into the water. My initial job was over and was watching in anticipation of the launching of the Boston Whaler. I began hearing some grunts coming from Larry’s fishing buddy, when I heard behind and above me the old bait shop owner say in a gruff but seasoned voice, “Sure would go in a lot easier if you unstrapped the boat first!” Larry’s fishing buddy’s face, beet red with embarrassment, quickly unstrapped the boat. We all nodded that we all make mistakes. No big deal, right?

Next day… wait, you might wonder what happened to our fishing all that day. Suffice to say we went fishing, and they taught me how to correctly bait the hook with different types of bait, where to cast, do it without a making big splash, plus many other inside secrets to successful fishing. 

No one even got a nibble all day. But ask any fisherman if he hasn’t got skunked a time or two.  No big deal, right?

Day 2

The routine was much the same. At 5:00am or there-a-bouts, my eyes not focusing that early to give an exact time, Larry and his buddy again studied all the meters and gauges displayed on the motel TV. Based upon that knowledge and their bunk bed analysis, picked out where we should go to have the best chance to catch fish.

Arriving at the pier with most of our bait from yesterday, we assumed our jobs and positions to launch the boat. The only difference this time was there were about five people, including the bait shop guy with the beard and beer, watching us.

Everything went as planned. I did my “That’s far enough, Larry” and his buddy pushed and launched the boat into the water. Larry started to drive off to park the truck and trailer when the guy with the beard and beer looking down from the pier says, “Sure is a lot of water in that boat!” 

Yep, you may have guessed it– Larry’s buddy forgot to install the drain plug in the rear of the boat. To get the plug in, Larry’s buddy had to lean down to the point his waders filled with water. But, who, at one time or another, has not forgotten to put the plug in the boat? No big deal, right?

Armed with a new TV and bed top analysis, most of our bait, and my newly acquired fishing secrets, it was almost assured the fish wouldn’t have a chance this time around.

 After all day on the water, I am pretty certain none of us got a nibble again.

But hey, we were relaxing, right? However, I was beginning to regret not buying some of that bottle bass (beer), the bait shop guy was drinking.

Day 3

The morning routine changed this time. Larry and his buddy would not be embarrassed again. They put together a detailed boat launch sequence that NASA would have been proud of. They agreed and said, screw the TV and bed top analysis; announcing instead that we were going to the Old Army Hole where they claimed they never failed to catch fish. I was told The Old Army Hole was a dredged out area just off the shoreline of an old Army base.

As we arrived at the pier and bait shop, there was a guy at the door of the bait shop who shouted to others inside, “Here they come!” About fifteen people came out and lined the pier to watch us launch the boat. I swear, I could have sold tickets.

Everything Larry’s buddy did went according to the detailed sequence for launching the boat without a hitch.

I did my “That’s far enough, Larry” as Larry’s buddy perfectly launched the boat. I then signaled we had successfully launched the boat. Larry would now drive and park the truck and trailer as before, except – you will not believe this – Larry forgot to take the truck out of reverse. So when he took his foot off the brake and hit the gas pedal, the trailer and part of the truck went straight into the water. One guy watching on the pier ran to his truck as he had a winch and pulled Larry, the truck, and boat trailer out of the water.

Sucking up the embarrassment, we went fishing at the Old Army Hole as planned.

We got some nibbles this time in that clear water. My legs were getting stiff by this time so I asked to be put to shore to walk it off.

As I walked along the shoreline, in the clear water, I saw a fish near the surface. I shouted to Larry who was casting in a different direction to, “Cast over here, I see a fish.” Larry, per my instructions, cast in that direction and, to my surprise, the fish nibbled on the bait. Larry, a fisherman extraordinaire, jerked back on his rod, jerking the bait and hook right out of the fish’s mouth. The fish seemed unfazed by the event and continued to swim near the surface. I shouted, “Do it again. He’s still here.” Larry repeated it all over again with the same result. This fish was either the dumbest or bravest in Port O’Connor because he came back to the same area. When I saw the fish again, I shouted to Larry, “He’s back. Cast again, but do nothing until I tell you.”

I watched until the fish looked hooked when I said, “OK, you can reel him in.” The good news is we caught a fish but it took two of us. The bad news, I was told it was a very bony fish and not good for eating.

The trip back was uneventful and very quiet. I needed a break from all the relaxing but I could not help wondering how did they create those pictures of stringers of fish Larry had shown me that convinced me to go on this fishing trip.

Note: They never asked me to go fishing again, but I came away with a great fishing story.