The Clear Lake Bet

It seems fishing with my friends always ends up as a series of bets. Typically, the first bets are made before we ever reach the water – a dollar on the first fish, a dollar on the most and a dollar on the biggest. Whoever wins the most bets during the day always had undeniable bragging rights for the trip home (although bragging usually lasted for weeks). This trip was no different.

Ice fishing for us is basically an excuse to get together and drink whiskey. Catching fish is just something to place bets on and is secondary to those nips of whiskey. Clear Lake sits just below Guanella Pass at an elevation of something like 11,200 feet. Needless to say it gets cold up there in the winter. And ice. Lots of ice. We usually have to drill through two feet of ice just to fish. We always stop at Georgetown to get our usual gas station breakfast before heading up to the lake. The well-worn trail we take from the parking lot to the lake must be some boat launch road in the summer. I don’t know. I’ve never fished it in the summer. At any rate, that’s how we get down to the ice. Once the trail meets the ice’s edge our spot is no more than 60 yards from shore. It sits on the inlet and has always treated us well. We set up shop and were on fish in no time. A couple hours had passed when Preston came up to me and said “I bet I can out fish you…”

Preston is the son of a buddy’s coworker and we always try to include him in our trips to be one of the guys. I don’t know his entire story, but he needs positive male influences in his life (I’m not sure we are the right guys for that but we do our best). This kid always cracks me up because here is a teenager constantly talking trash and trying to give shit to guys twice his age. He fits in with our group a little too well. His head and ego is slightly too large for his own good, but he gives it with the best of us. Half the time he leaves us in tears from laughing so hard about the stupid crap that rolls out of his mouth trying to act twice his age. Needless to say when he approached me with a bet I had to entertain the idea.

“I said, ‘wanna make a bet, little girl?’”

When I finally realized he was talking to me I figured this was as good an opportunity as any to put this little piss ant in his place.

“What’s the bet,” I asked.

“First off, what do I get WHEN I win,” he replied.

Is this kid serious? I couldn’t help it and busted out laughing.

“OK. IF you win I’ll buy you an entire pack of CO2 for your pellet gun. What do I get WHEN I win?”

“What do you want?”

This is a very dangerous question with my group of friends because we will think of the most awkward position we can think of to put you in. And we will force you to do it. Knowing Preston wasn’t old enough to buy ammo for any of my firearms or buy any type of alcohol, I had to choose my response very carefully. So I thought for a minute.

“If I win you have to drag your bare ass on the ice from this crack to that crack 25 yards over there.” I gestured to a crack across the ice with one of those shit-eating grins on my face. Not really thinking that he’d go for the bet he had his hand out to shake on it before I could think otherwise. The bet was made. 

Gabe drilled two new holes and laid out the ground rules. We were to drop our lures down the holes at exactly the same time. First one to put a trout on the ice was the winner. On Gabe’s mark we dropped our lures down. The entire time it took for my Swedish spoon to flutter to the bottom my eyes were fixed on Preston’s with a dumb half-grin on my face. There was no way I was losing this bet. My lure hit the bottom and I knew it was a matter of milliseconds before I had a bite.  I was right.

“Hey Preston, watch this!”

I immediately set the hook and my little ice rod doubled over bouncing violently. Every ounce of color left Preston’s face as all the guys busted out laughing because they knew what was about to happen. I slowly played the fish up to the surface milking every second of this bet. After I landed it, I unhooked the little brookie and simply laid it at Preston’s feet.

Preston was defeated, but like a champ, he reluctantly placed his ass on the ice in freezing temperatures and drug it the entire length of the bet. We all have never laughed so hard at the faces he made as the cold winter ice sucked every last ounce of heat from his ass cheeks. He cursed and bitched the entire time but owned up to his end of the bet. After that day, Preston stood a little taller and gained a little more of our respect. The funny thing is we have taken him on many fishing and hunting trips since then but that was the last time he made a bet with me. Lesson learned I suppose. 

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