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How I Got Out of a Fine on My Best Day of Fishing

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

Boy, do I love fishing. With all the time I spent out on the lake, you’d think I was some sort of professional angler but if we’re being honest, my past few trips haven’t been as enjoyable as I’d like. For instance, last Tuesday I was fishing down near the Chinle River off the reservation about a quarter mile, and I was having the time of my life. I mean I’ve had good fishing days before, but this day was going great. I was only three hours into dropping my line in the water and I had already caught half a dozen trout. Not only did I have some nice ones in the bucket, one of those suckers may have very well been the biggest trout I ever caught. Well, as luck would have it, it was right after I reeled in lucky number seven when I realized that I didn’t have my fishing license on me. Oh, no big deal I thought, after all, I’ve been out on this part of the river at least a dozen times over the past 2 years and I’ve never once seen a Water Conservation Officer.

Wouldn’t you know it, that would change that day. It was a quarter til noon when I saw him walking down the embankment that I took to get down to my lucky spot.

“How are you doing sir? Catching anything?” he asked.

“Uh,” I stuttered, looking down at my bucket.

“Oh yeah, looks like you have a few swimming around in there. Do you mind if I take a look at your license?”

I panicked. And while my brain and I were working on what to say, my mouth already had it sorted.

“Oh, I’m not fishing today,” I said with a stone-cold expression.

“Excuse me?”

“Yeah, this rod here isn’t mine, someone must have left it,” I told him.

“Is that so?” he sneered.

“Yes sir.”

“…and the bucket of fish?” he questioned, reaching for his ticket book.

“Oh, these guys? They’re mine from home. They’re trained trout,” I answered.

“Trained trout? That’s a new one.”

“Yes sir. I bring them down here to the river every other day to swim and get their exercise and then when they’re all done, I whistle and they come right back to their bucket.” I explained.

I could tell he didn’t believe me, but at the same time, he seemed slightly intrigued.

“Ok, I’ll humor you. Prove it to me, and I won’t write you a ticket.”

“Sure,” I proceeded to dump the fish into the river.

We stood there and waited a few minutes before the officer finally broke the silence.

“Ok, now whistle for your fish and show me that they’ll return to the bucket.”

I simply turned to him with a confused look on my face and said, “what fish officer?”

Needless to say, I got out of a pretty big ticket that day, since he couldn’t prove anything. Oh, and I won’t ever leave my fishing license behind ever again.

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