A Fish Story



Gene Cortez


I was working at Lanier High School in the 1990 and I was required to wear a coat and tie because I was part of the administrative staff. Sometimes I would have to make a home visit to meet with parents of our students for counseling sessions which took a lot of my time.

During this time my father had become ill and had recovered sufficiently enough to allow him to go fishing at Braunig Lake. I was concerned because he hadn’t given enough recovery time and might have a relapse. So, during one of these counseling sessions, I decided to go check on him.

The trouble started at the gate when I told the gatekeeper that I wanted go see my father and check up on him. “No way” says the gatekeeper. I had to pay even though I was wearing a coat and tie, obviously to anyone that I wasn’t going fishing.

After I entered the park, I had to look for them and they were situated in one of the coves.

I checked on my Dad first to see how he was doing. He said he was ok. Relieved, I went over to see my brother in law, Joe, who accompanied my Dad on his fishing expeditions.

He was holding a rod and reel and was squirming. I asked “whats up?” He said that he needed to go the bathroom and would I hold his rod until he came back. I told him that I would. He hadn’t been gone too long when I felt a tug on the line. I called Joe,” hey, there’s fish on the line, what should I do?” He answered, “Take it out and put it on the line by the tree”. I did as he asked me too and afterward I place the rod on top of a picnic table. No sooner had I done that, then, here comes a game warden with lights flashing.

The car stopped right in front of me and I wondered what was wrong and I thought that they will probably ask my brother in law for his fishing license. I was wrong. They asked me for my license. I told them in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t fishing. How can I fish with a coat and tie? They said, “Sir, we were watching you from across the bay with a high powered telescope and we saw you taking fish out of the water and tie them to a line by the tree.” Well. Yes, I did do that but I did it as a favor for my brother in law. I wasn’t fishing. He’s the one who’s fishing”. They then explained the law to me and gave me ticket, fishing without a license which was a $50.00 fine. They in turn asked Joe for his license which he obliged. They asked him where the fish that he caught were. He took them to where the line was and he had eight small fish. They told him, “sir, these fish are too small and besides you can only catch a certain amount of them. We will have to charge you $80 for each of them. However, if you could release all of them, we will only give you a ticket for one.” Joe immediately asked me to help. As he was giving me the fish to release into the lake, I place them in the shallow end and they eagerly swam out. However, the last fish just went belly up. I told Joe, “This one seems to be dead.” He said, “We need to revive it. Give it CPR.” Not knowing how to give CPR to a fish I started to blow in his mouth and push his heart to resuscitate it. Joe said, “No, you have to put it in the water and run water through it’s gills.” I started to hold the fish upside down in the lake and with the other hand cup some water and pour water through its mouth.” “No, said Joe, “you have to grab the fish from the top and make believe you’re starting a small toy car”. So, I attempted to do so. After three attempts the fish woke up and slowly swam out.

Through the whole ordeal, my father was laughing out loud. I still believed that I didn’t deserve the ticket and told the park ranger so. He told me that I would have to explain it to the judge.

Well, when it was time to go see the judge the only thing he asked is if I was guilty or not. I said not guilty. I didn’t want to pay the fine. Then he asked why I wasn’t guilty because he had the file in front of him and it was a definite guilty written all over it. I explain why I didn’t feel that I should be facing him and told him the story. He started laughing. He gave me another date to meet with him. I asked him why he couldn’t set up the trial now, since I’m here already. “It doesn’t work that way” he said, “You need to be adjudicated and it takes time for the process.

Three months later I was in front of the same judge and I had to explain the whole situation again. This time he had a whole bunch of people listening to my story and there were a lot laughter going on. I had no idea it was so funny. The judge said, “I had to bring you back to share the story with rest of my colleagues and I do believe that you didn’t deserve the fine for fishing without a license”, however you do have to pay court cost. I asked, “How much was the court cost?” He answered “fifty five dollars”. I should have stayed home!

2 thoughts on “A Fish Story

  1. You were being a good son… you kept Uncle Joe from wetting his pants… you saved a fish’s life… and then you got fined $55!

    The moral of the story? Sometimes when you go fishing, you’re the one who gets caught! : )

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