Finding comfort in ‘Goodbye’

A favorite photo of mine taken by Daily Globe photographer Jesse Trelstad at a high school football game this fall.

A favorite photo of mine taken by Daily Globe photographer Jesse Trelstad at a high school football game this fall.

I wrote a couple months ago about my current effort to embrace — rather than instantly reject — change.

My success has varied. But there’s one change I don’t think I’ll ever fully be able to appreciate: saying “Goodbye.”

I know that isn’t some profound statement exclusive to me. Nobody really likes to see someone they care about — whether it be a falling out, a big move or, at worst, a death — leave, or to be the one leaving. But it’s something we all must deal with in varying degrees throughout our lives.

This weekend has been a reminder of what it’s like being on both ends of the spectrum for me.

Friday was the last day at the Daily Globe for photographer Jesse Trelstad and reporter Kristin Trelstad (or Kirtz, as you might have seen her name appear in the paper). They are leaving so that Jesse can continue his photojournalism career at the Grand Forks Herald. That same day, two old friends (along with a new friend whom I hadn’t met) arrived in town for a visit from Emporia, Kansas, where I worked before moving to Worthington.

Saturday night, a few of us from the Globe were able to have a get-together in order to hang out with Jesse and Kristin one more time before they headed north. My guests joined us and, for me, it was like bringing two families together.

In a little more than a year since Jesse joined the newsroom (Kristin came on a couple months later), I’ve had the pleasure of not only getting to work with them, but also get to know them. They’re both wonderful people, and I’m proud to call them my friends. While I’m excited for what the future has in store for them, selfishly, the news that they are leaving Worthington was a bitter pill to swallow.

When I first moved to Worthington, I admittedly had a little bit of a hard time adjusting. It was nothing against the town or anyone in it — certainly not my coworkers — but despite befriending people at work and feeling welcome, I didn’t get the “at-home” feeling for which I was hoping. Over time, that has changed. I know both Jesse and Kristin had a lot to do with that.

At the same time, having my friends from Kansas in town reminded me of a time not so long ago when I was in the same position they are. Not only was I leaving Emporia, a community to which I had no ties that almost immediately embraced me as one of its own, but I was moving a long way away from some of the most important people in my life — friends who had essentially become an extension of family. I’m not ashamed to admit that more than a few tears were shed during those last few days.

But having them here this particular weekend was especially meaningful. It served as a reminder that, though our proximity in geography has changed, our relationships haven’t. I still count them among my closest friends and communicate with them, whether it be by phone, text messaging, social media, etc., on a very regular basis.

While it still is sad to think that I won’t see Jesse and Kristin on an almost daily basis, knowing that they’re just a couple taps on my phone or keyboard away is very comforting. I don’t have a worry in my mind that they will continue to be a big part of my life just as my friends from Kansas have.

Last week, Jesse gave each of us in the newsroom a drawing that he’d made specifically for us. On the back of mine, he left a short note that ended with a quote. That said, I feel it’s appropriate to end this post with a quote for Jesse and Kristin.

“No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other’s worth.” — Robert Southey

Balancing act


Sports happened.

I’ve joked with a coworker that someday when I couldn’t come up with a blog topic, the above was going to be my entry. While – as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now – that isn’t my entire blog, if ever there was a time I was tempted, this might be it.

Before I typed those two words, I stared at a blank document for a good 20-25 minutes. It wasn’t that I couldn’t come up with a topic so much as the fact my brain has been working overtime lately. The local sports scene has certainly kept me hopping during the past two or three weeks. That isn’t a complaint. This is a really fun time of year sports-wise and, to be honest, I have a pretty awesome job.

I’ll be the first to admit, during these busy times of year – partially by choice and partially through obligation – I turn into a workaholic. It’s hard for my mind to focus on anything else.

This past week, I was in Marshall for volleyball on Thursday and headed up to St. Cloud for Pipestone Area’s Class AA football state semifinal on Friday. This weekend I’ll be in Minneapolis for Prep Bowl XXXIV games on Friday and Saturday. I also have to finish up our winter schedule book – which comes at you Friday, by the way. These are what have been near the forefront of my mind more often than not lately.

While I enjoy all of it, there is a price to pay. While I focus on those events and assignments along with various things surrounding them, there is also a slightly smaller part of my brain that is stressing out. It’s telling me to slow down and, more importantly, stop neglecting other parts of my life.

Some of those things are simple. Right now the clock on my computer screen reads 2:11 a.m. and I’m planning to be at work in less than eight hours. That nagging part of my brain is telling me I need to get some sleep, but that side rarely wins.

Other things are more serious. They make me feel guilty and frustrated with myself. These are the reminders (or at least worries) that I may be neglecting relationships that are important to me. Thoughts that, even when I am interacting with others, that I’m not fully present; my mind is on the next game or what I have to get done later.

During this most recent stretch, I’ve tried to be more conscious of the parts of my life that aren’t work-related. This doesn’t mean I’m shirking responsibilities at the office or putting any less effort into my job. It just means I’m doing my best to do something every day to help relieve these anxieties, even if it’s something as simple as a quick text message to a friend just to say hello.

While my success has varied, I think being mindful of things other than work has helped. I’ve still had some of those anxious moments where I worry that some part of my life – or worse, someone in my life – is being neglected, those moments have been more fleeting and less severe than similar periods in the past.

So yes, sports happened. They’re going to happen later, too. But that isn’t the whole story.


The most wonderful time of the year

In a blog I wrote about a month ago titled “My Moment of Zen,” I mentioned that fall is my favorite time of the year. I wrote about leaves and changes and dresser drawers, but I glossed over something I particularly love about the fall.
In my humble opinion, autumn — most notably late October — is the best time of the year on the sports calendar.
As I write this on Tuesday afternoon, we are just hours away from the first pitch of the World Series. This year’s Fall Classic features the New York Mets against the Kansas City Royals. It’s a fun matchup with both teams sporting a lot of young talent. Admittedly, there are years I don’t care much about the series (Seriously, who needs to see the Yankees play the Cardinals? They’re in it every other year.) This is not one of those years.
The last time the Mets won the World Series was 1986. If there are any Boston Red Sox fans reading this, I’m sure you’ll remember that particular series well. The Royals, though they made the series just last year, haven’t won it since 1985. Knowing a team that hasn’t been crowned “World Champion” in 30 (or 29) years makes this year’s matchup a little more fun for me. That said, go Mets!
Not only is it World Series time, but football season is really heating up at all levels. In the NFL, late October is when we begin to see the contenders being separated from the pretenders. By this point — aside from perhaps a couple exceptions — we know what teams truly have a chance to make a run at the postseason and which ones might as well start thinking about the draft.
Of course, the fact that the Vikings are 4-2 and actually won a road division game last Sunday makes this year even more fun.
The same statement about contenders and pretenders can be said about teams in the college ranks. Now is the time in the year when we start to see the big rivalry games and a couple handful of teams will play do-or-die games each week as they jostle for a playoff spot. Each week there will be upsets (USC over Utah? Seriously?) and fantastic finishes (still not ready to talk about the Michigan vs. Michigan State ending, It’s too soon).
Finally, because of a one-year change in schedule, the last weekend in October marks the first round of the Minnesota state football tournaments. Three teams from the Daily Globe coverage area — Pipestone Area, Jackson County Central and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton — will begin their quest for a state title this weekend. The pressure and intensity mounts with each week. It’s a lot of fun.
Take all of that and throw in plenty more high school state competition, the beginning of basketball and hockey seasons at all levels, the Chase for the Cup in NASCAR and the nearing of hunting season, it’s hard to deny what a great time of year this really is. No matter what your preferred activity is, enjoy. Odds are the next few weeks are going to be fun.

Lessons from a dog


Writing might be the perfect profession for my personality. It’s maybe even a little too good.

I’ve stated more than once in this blog that, as writers, we tend to be our own harshest critics. In hindsight, nothing is ever perfect. At least that’s how it is with me.

If a panel of experts in journalism (sports or otherwise), creative writing, analytical writing, blogging, poetry, etc. were to pour over everything I’ve ever written – from notes to junior high love interests, to college papers, to stories, blogs and columns – and chose the five best pieces, it would probably be a fairly decent collection. (At least I’d like to think so.) Still, it wouldn’t be perfect.

I’d read through those pieces with a critically discerning eye and find something in all of them to pick apart. Perhaps I’d use a different word here, more elegant phrasing there, add or subtract facts or ideas. But in all of them, there would be something.

I know that makes me sound like an obsessive perfectionist; aggressively ‘Type A’ at the least. I really don’t think I fit into either of those categories, though. I don’t think I’m typically critical of other people or the things I read and watch made by folks who aren’t me. It’s just me.

This occasionally bleeds into my day-to-day life. Usually it’s harmless. I think of a good point or a funny quip I could have made during a previous discussion; but I just store it away and think, “I’ll use it if the topic comes up again.” I certainly don’t beat myself up over it.

But, in truth, that’s sort of where the slope gets a bit more slippery. That point is the “if the topic comes up again” portion of the above thought. The reason that part makes things muddier is that I not only scrutinize myself over things that happened in the past, but also those that haven’t even happened yet. (A lot of times, they never will.)

When I think about the future – though I do fancy myself a bit of an optimist – there are times I worry; not so much about if this or that will happen, but how I would react or respond if this or that happens. It’s at that point when I begin to look inward and that harsh critic in me comes out. I know none of this is particularly healthy, though I don’t think it’s a necessarily uncommon problem.

But every so often, something happens out of nowhere that pulls me back to the present; out of the jungle of my own mind. That happened this morning, and I have Homer to thank for it.

I was desperately trying to come up with a topic for this blog. I had a few ideas, but nothing with which I was really satisfied. With each topic, I began writing it in my head and each time I’d stop myself, thinking it wasn’t very good. It was bothering me a lot and, instinctively, those critical thoughts came creeping in.

Homer was outside, standing in the back yard just a few feet out from the door. I stepped outside to give him a couple pats when he suddenly jerked up. His nose went to the ground and his ears perked up in curiosity. That’s when I saw a grasshopper scuttle across the ground just a few inches in front of his nose.

I watched as he intently followed it, occasionally batting at it playfully with one of his front paws. The grasshopper would leap a few feet away and Homer would jog behind to resume his investigation of the strange creature. The whole scene was quite comical and actually made me laugh out loud. It pulled me out of my own mind and allowed me to just enjoy a simple moment.

That’s when I realized Homer had the right idea. He didn’t care that he looked silly. He didn’t care what the grasshopper or I thought of him. All he knew was that right there, in that moment, he was chasing a little bouncy thing around the yard; and he seemed to be enjoying himself. The whole scene – as small and short as it was – instantly put me in a better mood.

Living in the moment is something I believe is a fairly universal problem for people. There’s always something that happened or is coming up to weigh on our minds and, if you’re like me, bring out the nasty critic. Next time I catch myself ruminating over what was or may be, I’m going to think of Homer and that grasshopper. In the grand scheme of things, who cares if I look silly?

My moment of Zen

Saturday night I was taking Homer for an evening walk along the shores of the Mighty Okabena when I decided to stop and sit for a while on a park bench in Chautauqua Park. The sun was setting, there was a nice breeze coming off of the lake and the weather was perfect.

Before I knew it, I caught myself slipping into a little bit of an introspective mood. (The better word might be “reflective” but I went with “introspective” so that nobody thought I felt as though I had a mirror-like quality. I digress.) Both Homer and I were taking in the tranquility of it all when I started noticing the leaves on the trees.

Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. Besides the fact that, in my humble opinion, fall is the best time of year for sports-minded people such as myself, there are plenty of things to love about the current season. There is the color of the aforementioned leaves, the temperatures that aren’t too hot but are still warm enough to be outdoors without dressing like you’re about to climb Mount Everest and the crispness of the air. I could go on.

It’s always felt a little strange to me that I enjoy autumn for any reason other than the sports factor. I’ve usually looked at it as a season of change; when the summer heat (and sweatiness) gives way to the cold and snow so that everything can be clean and fresh again in the spring. But here’s the kicker: for as long as I can remember, I’ve dreaded change.

From the smallest change – like getting a new dresser in my bedroom as a child – to bigger ones – like moving to Kansas, as I did in 2012 – I’ve always approached them with apprehension. I’ll even admit, there’s probably a little bit (maybe a lot in some cases) of fear involved.

It’s not difficult to pinpoint the reason. Change means stepping outside of your comfort zone. (Heck, what if one of those dresser drawers sticks and I have to yank and yank every time I want to put on a clean t-shirt? The old one didn’t do that. It was a perfectly fine dresser. Why change it?)

I looked at the leaves that evening and thought about change, and how many of them I’ve undergone in my life. Moves to new places and new jobs, drifting apart from old friends and making new ones, the things I like to do for fun, what I value and how those have changed from 10, even five years ago. (I’ll be the first to admit, I think I’m a lot different now than I was five years ago. In most, but possibly not all, cases I think I’ve changed for the better.)

I guess you could say all of this led me to an epiphany. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not that old. I’ve already undergone more changes – both large and small – than I could ever count; and I’m sure I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I’ll see when I look back 30-40-50 years from now. Through all of those changes – most of which I fought tooth and nail – I survived. My life didn’t end or become drastically worse when I moved to Kansas anymore than it did when I got a new dresser as an 8-year-old.

Looking at it from that perspective, I feel a little silly knowing how uncomfortable change has been for me. That’s why I think autumn is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf. (See what I did there?)

It’s going to be a process, but I want to begin looking at change from a different angle; to start seeing it as an opportunity rather than a monster waiting to tear my world apart. So far, most of the changes in my life have turned out pretty well. It’s time I start embracing them.Sunset

Too much quantity, not enough quality

You will rarely see me write about politics, but there is one particular issue I feel compelled to discuss: the number of candidates vying for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.
To be honest, I’m not sure whether it’s the number of candidates remaining (16) or the format in which they’re trying to differentiate themselves that bothers me more. But when you have 10, even 11 candidates involved in one debate, the phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen” immediately comes to mind.
What annoys me the most about all of it, however, is that at this point I feel like it’s doing a disservice to the American voters.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I tend to lean left on most political issues; further on some than others. That said, at this stage in the game (thankfully there are 13 months yet before Election Day) I am not completely sold on any of the Democratic candidates. But that’s a bit beside the point. I also think casting an uninformed vote for a candidate simply because he or she has a “D” or an “R” next to their name is downright irresponsible. I think all voters have a responsibility to be as informed as possible on all of the issues and where each of the candidates stand on them before casting their ballot.
With that in mind, I’ve watched both of the Republican debates between the top candidates according to polling numbers. The first of these debates was in early August and consisted of a 10-man field. Carly Fiorina was added to the second, bringing the number of candidates involved in last Wednesday’s debate to 11. Having that many people involved is simply not helpful to someone like me.
I watch because I sincerely want to learn about each of these candidates. As there are certain Democrats I like and would probably vote for if the election were today, there are also those I’m not so sure about. I want to get to know these Republicans because I simply want to answer one basic question before I go to the polls: “Are there any — and if so, who — that I agree with on enough of the issues that I would possibly vote for them if a Democrat I’m not as crazy about were their opponent?”
At this point, I can’t really answer that question. I know where all of the top candidates stand on some of the issues and I can point to an area or two where I agree or disagree with almost all of them (even Trump). That said, with 11 of them taking part in the debates, not all of them are able to voice their opinion or say how they would handle each issue.
I, along with other voters, are left with a half-finished painting. We have an idea of what it’s about, but the whole picture isn’t quite distinguishable.
I understand there are other places to get informed about candidates, and I use some of those as well. But I prefer the debate format to all others. At least in theory, it allows us to see how the candidates think on their feet, react to criticism and conduct themselves when contentious issues arise. In my mind, performing well in those areas is also essential to good leadership.
At this point, I don’t know what I’m going to do.
Heck, maybe I’ll just vote for Homer.

Return to reality

Things were a little tense at the Hacker Compound early last week.
While I was off gallivanting around the Midwest — which I’m sure you ALL ready about in last Wednesday’s paper — Homer was having a vacation of his own. I went to Chicago and St. Louis to catch some baseball. As much of a baseball fan (and expert) as Homer is, he’s much more comfortable watching the games from the comfort of his own couch. (Emphasis on it being HIS couch.)
Unable to talk him into joining my friend Brett and I, Homer spent the better part of two weeks at my parents’ house. They live on St. Olaf Lake, just outside of New Richland. It’s not a shabby place for a person to catch some R & R, let alone a dog. So while I was on my travels, Homer was lounging around, taking a much-needed break from the hard work he puts in on a daily basis.
There are a couple things that make my parents’ place particularly alluring for a dog, even one who doesn’t really care for water. First of all, my mom and dad have three dogs who live with them, their two dogs and my sister’s 2-year-old beagle-dachshund mix named Hank. On top of that, my aunt and uncle live just down the road with two labs, each of whom are younger than 5 years old.
What makes this smorgasbord of playtime even better is the fact that, unlike me, my parents don’t live in town. Homer can go outside without being tied up and is free to roam the neighborhood as he pleases. Admittedly, it’s probably a pretty great feeling considering he is restricted to the length of a 30 foot rope or five-foot leash when we’re in Worthington.
Aside from his freedom to play and sniff (he really loves new smells), Homer is also quite social. He likes having company at all times. When we’re at home, he usually has to spend a few hours on his own while I’m at work. At the lake, there is basically always someone around.
I could go on, but I’ll get back to where I started.
Monday morning, I drove back to Worthington to resume my life in the working world. For Homer, this meant vacation was over as well. The first day or two he spent sleeping a little more than normal; must have been worn out from above-average amount of playing. But once he got back to himself, I think he was mad.
My wake-up calls (or barks) seemed to come a little earlier than normal for a few days. The times when I wanted to sit down and relax seemed to be met with resistance more often than not. In other words, Homer wasn’t ready for vacation to end.
Luckily, he’s a benevolent hound and has since forgiven me. Time really does heal all wounds.

Palmer gives hunters a bad name

Let me just begin this blog by saying that I’m in no way opposed to hunting.
I know that most hunters do everything within the boundaries of the law and are safe in their practice. I also know it is a necessary part of conservation. I don’t think the concept of there being too high of a deer population is bad for the habitat is difficult to grasp. Hunting has a purpose, and I disagree with anyone who says otherwise.
But, as is often the case, a few people can make a whole population look bad. People like Walter Palmer.
By now, most of you probably recognize Palmer as the Bloomington dentist who killed a famous lion in Zimbabwe. Palmer, who was on a guided hunt in Africa early this month, is accused of luring the 13-year-old lion out of a national park onto private land where he could kill it with a crossbow.
I’ll admit, I’ve never been a hunter, so perhaps I’m missing something, but I’ve never understood the reason for big-game hunting. To me, hunting should be done for conservation or for food. As far as I know, Zimbabwe isn’t becoming overrun by lions (in fact, it’s quite the opposite), and I highly doubt Palmer ever had any intention of eating his kill.
It’s been reported that Palmer paid $55,000 for a license to hunt lion. That’s more than many people make in a year. Even for someone who obviously has more money than they know what to do with, I don’t see the point in paying that much to kill something for no other purpose than to say you did it.
The fact that the lion Palmer killed was famous is — for the most part — irrelevant. It’s the reason Palmer was caught (Cecil, which was the lion’s name, was wearing a GPS collar because he was part of an Oxford University study), but other than that it really doesn’t make much of a difference. Even had this been another unnamed lion in the wild, killing it still wouldn’t have served any more or less of a purpose.
But I’m straying from the point a bit. The most maddening thing about this story to me is the method by which he harvested Cecil. Palmer and his guides used bait to get the lion off the protected land it lived on, shot it with a bow and arrow (which only wounded it) and finally found and killed it 40 hours later. Not only is that cruel and inhumane, luring it out of the park is illegal.
In a statement Tuesday, Palmer said that as far as he knew, everything about the hunt was legal. He trusted his guides to ensure it was. If that were the case, I’d probably be a bit more forgiving; after all, people do make mistakes. But I have a hard time believing Palmer in the area of legal hunting practices.
Palmer was charged in 2006 for illegally killing a black bear on restricted land in Wisconsin and dragging it to an area where the kill would have been legal. He pleaded guilty to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when he was caught.
The two people who were with Palmer on the hunt have already been arrested in Zimbabwe. I can’t imagine Palmer won’t be next. As an avid hunter, I don’t see how he could think luring it off protected land so that he could shoot it was legal.
At the very least, I hope that Palmer is no longer allowed to hunt anywhere. Many people all over the world hunt within the law. It’s people like him who give them a bad name.

A true All-Star

Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is normally appointment viewing for me. It’s the only All-Star Game in major professional sports during which the best players in the game actually play their hardest and (usually) put on a good show.

Last Friday afternoon, I’d decided that for the first time in a while, I was not going to watch the midsummer classic. I entered into my own personal boycott of the event after learning that Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals had won the final player vote to be included on the roster. In doing so, he beat out Twins second baseman Brian Dozier.

In a normal year, this might not have bothered me quite so much. The fact is, Moustakas had a pretty darn good first half of the season, making his inclusion among the American League All-Stars justified. But, although I fully admit to being bias on the matter, Dozier shouldn’t have been on the final player ballot in the first place. He should have been chosen as a reserve from the start.

Dozier — who entered the All-Star break second in the AL in at-bats (347) and runs scored (67), third in doubles (26), tied for seventh in home runs (19) and in the top 20 of nearly every other category — being left out was the last straw. The Royals fans had forced a seventh Royal onto the All-Star roster and I wasn’t going to stand for it.

Dozier was the MVP of a team that had the second-best record in the league AND had better numbers than “Moose” in all but three categories (strikeouts, batting average and on-base percentage) while playing in 10 more games and collecting 47 more at-bats. When it was announced Moustakas and St. Louis pitcher Carlos Martinez both won, I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone in Missouri works or if they all have the free time on a weekday to just sit around and vote all day long.

What bothered me more about Dozier not getting on the team is that he seems like a genuinely good guy. Back in January when he was part of the Twins Caravan group that stopped in Worthington, he got “in trouble” with the team’s media relations people because he wasn’t where he needed to be because he was signing autographs for fans. In my brief conversation with him (sorry for the name-drop), I would say he was definitely the most polite and down-to-earth high-profile person that I’ve interviewed.

In protest, I wasn’t going to watch the game.

That very night, he continued to put the team on his back by hitting a walk-off, three-run homer to complete an improbable comeback win over division rival Detroit. Saturday, it was announced that he was going to be on the team after all as a replacement for injured Toronto slugger Jose Bautista.

I could watch the game again!

Tuesday night, Dozier got into the game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter against Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Mark Melancon. In his first All-Star Game at-bat, all he did was blast a solo home run to center that extended the American League’s lead to 6-2.

Dozier’s All-Star experience was a good reminder that, despite the steroid and abuse scandals, many professional athletes are still good guys. After Dozier lost the final fan vote, he filmed a 30-second video thanking the fans who supported him. When he hit his homer in the game, he wore a big smile as he rounded the bases. Throughout his career, he’s played hard, the way it’s meant to be played, with class and youthful enthusiasm.

It would be hard not to cheer for a guy like that.

The Great Striper Hunt

First of all, I want to wish everyone a Happy Shark Week. It came a month early this year. What could be better than that?

Speaking of fish, I was able to get out for a rare fishing expedition a couple weeks ago while on vacation. Although I’ve always enjoyed fishing, it’s something I never do nearly as much as I’d like. I haven’t even bothered buying a Minnesota Fishing License in about three or four years because the last time I did, I only made it out two or three times.

So, needless to say, when me, my dad, my sister and two of my cousins’ husbands set out on Lake Cumberland in south-central Kentucky a couple weeks ago, it had been a while since I’d dropped a line.

I’m not sure how a true fisherman would classify this particular trip. We weren’t exactly out on our own. The five of us pooled our money to hire a guide who took us out on the 65,000-acre lake. He picked us up at the boat landing near my aunt and uncle’s house at 5:30 a.m. (a time that is practically cruel for a night-owl such as myself) and took us out to a prime spot.

This particular guide service specializes in fishing for striped bass (hence the name, “Striper Time”). This was the third time I’ve been out with the service and, while we’ve always had luck, this year’s trip was without question the most fruitful.

We reached our spot at about 6 a.m. and our guide, Mark, proceeded to drop a total of 11 lines in the water. Within about five minutes of him doing so, we had a bite. As the one sitting nearest to the hit, I quickly grabbed the rod and began to reel. After a tough battle between man and aquatic beast, I had the fish close enough to the boat for our guide to scoop him up in the net.

He took out the hook and plopped the fish down on a long ruler to find it measured about 24 inches, just big enough to keep. (The minimum is 22.) I’d barely caught my breath from the first one (seriously, it’s more of a workout than you think. Even the ones that aren’t big enough to keep can really fight!) when another line near me dropped. I grabbed it and managed to wrangle a 26-incher. Less than a half-hour in and I already had two keepers. I couldn’t complain about those odds.

The limit on stripers is two per person. Despite it being the largest group I’d ever gone out with, by about 11 a.m. we had our limit (10). That didn’t even include the catfish my cousin’s husband, Anwar, brought in.

With 11 keepers in tow, we headed back to the boat landing. There our guide cleaned and fileted all of them, packaged them up nice in Ziploc bags and sent us on our way. The next night, all 15 us (including four young kids) enjoyed a big fish fry during which we only cooked roughly half of our catch.

The Great Striper Hunt of 2015 was a success.

(Left to right): Bill Hacker, Molly Hacker, Zach Hacker, Curtiss Herd and Anwar Allen get their photo taken with the 10 striped bass they caught on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky.

(Left to right): Bill Hacker, Molly Hacker, Zach Hacker, Curtiss Herd and Anwar Allen get their photo taken with the 10 striped bass they caught on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky.