His name is Bailey Blosser, but I’ll always think of him as Bad Luck Bailey…and I’ll danged sure be smiling wide when I think about him.
I met Bailey at about 6 a.m. this morning. Last December his grandmother, Mary Blosser, had won a free fishing trip at The Eagle’s holiday open house. She’d said she’d like to bring her now 13-year-old grandson, Bailey. All sounded good.
The original offer was for a guided bass fishing trip this spring. But by the time springtime rolled around my favorite watershed had developed a hole in the bottom of the dam, and the best largemouth spot I’d ever fished was quickly going dry. (I really did enjoy it better than places I’d fished in Mexico and Florida.) By late May the drought had reduced my favorite spotted bass stream in the Flint Hills to little more than puddles.
So, plan C was a trip to Marion Reservoir this morning to fish with my friend Warren Kreutziger. He had volunteered to take us to his productive chum piles at the lake for channel catfish. He’d been smoking fish on the spots for weeks, usually catching limits of ten per person.
I thought we might be in trouble when Bailey showed up in light shorts and a very light shirt. The temperature was in the mid-60s and a north wind was blowing. He added some thin pajama bottoms he had in his grandmother’s truck but he was still very under-dressed.
Warren was kind enough to loan him the heavy shirt that provided quite a bit more protection.
By the time we got Warren’s boat launched the wind was howling and pushing lines of white caps across the lake.
Long, soggy story short, we fished for four hours and I caught the only fish of the trip literally in the last minute. It was only a 12-inch catfish. We got wet going, we got wet coming back to the ramp and waves crashed over the front of the boat while we were fishing.
Along the way Bailey had literally shivered, got drenched by crashing waves, got his shoes soaked in the water in the bottom of the boat and didn’t get so much as a nibble from what would have been his first-ever fish.
And he responded with smiles, and laughter, and jokes. Even when I answered his “How late do you guys usually fish?” with a serious-sounding “Oh, 10:30 or so at night,” Bailey just smiled and made himself comfortable.
OK, so maybe he smiled even wider when I told him we usually quit at mid-morning.
He put up with good-natured teasing that he was the jinx., even taking the blame for the bass lake draining and the stream going dry soon after he’d been invited to go bass fishing.
When we four drowned rats got back to the dock, Bad Luck Bailey quickly volunteered that he’d had fun and would go fishing again sometime.
Rather than push his grandmother to hurry home for dry clothes, or to get something to eat, Bailey took some time to work on his rock-skipping skills, and ended up doing pretty well.
Personally, I’ve had a lot less fun, catching a lot more fish, with kids and adults that didn’t have Bailey’s positive attitude. We’ll get you your first fish next year, Bailey. I promise.
From the sound of things his next big adventure will be his first-ever hunt for deer with his grandmother next fall. Mary Blosser is no stranger to successful deer hunting so I’m guessing they’ll do just fine.
Good luck Bailey, and I’m sure you’ll have fun…but you may want to show up on the hunt wearing more than your pajamas.