We managed to push out the front door at about 12:25. Fred told me not to expect to see him. Down I-78, but before exit 26, I said, "Matt, we need to get licenses. Do you have any cash?"
No. So I exited and turned back. Time wasting, we got to Behr's, and as expected, he doesn't sell licenses, but told us to buy on Matt's mobile. We got a dozen shiners and headed for the reservoir...where Matt still processed his license and we lost signal, of course. Something else I didn't think of, so we headed up to Route 22, where he completed his purchase and began to process mine. We got some notice that customer information can't be found. More time lost, we headed to Sportsman's Rendevous in Flemington. Almost there, it occurred to me they might be closed. Sure enough.
"This is proof of God's existence," I said. "We're so stupid, there must be greater intelligence in the universe." Neither of us had thought to check hours on the mobile. Now what? Efinger, many miles away? I thought of Wal-Mart. Matt phoned. Not the ideal place to do business, but relatively nearby. On the way, Fred phoned.
With about an hour to fish, we finally arrived at the reservoir, when we would have had four hours. No, we never gave up. Grating on the stomach and nerves, sure. But I never let it get to me outwardly, except I had a few more words of complaint than usual to share with Fred.
Spoke to a young man with a light rod and a fairly heavy Kastmaster, who had nailed a rainbow. Other than this, no fish. But the good news is that before Dave and his crew arrived--before Fred, and before my son and I--two lakers got caught on shiners.
I really didn't expect them this year, but just like last, maybe they're a comin' in with January. The weather has changed much for the better, with that sickening mildness and warmth fit for soft bellies finally driven south where it belongs. I can still feel chill on my face and it's entirely welcome. We northerners are industrious hard asses compared to the southern world, because we freeze.
Anyhow, we used the right bait. And as all of these outings turn out in the end--a good time for all. I drove home feeling great, and Matt was in fit shape too, hitting the buttons on his mobile as he prepares for a possible internship in the plasma physics lab at Princeton. I wish him all the best in his high endeavor, but he recognizes that the outdoors will challenge anyone, and if you persist, you'll always finish well. People think there's nothing to it. Until they try, which most don't do.