One burns through fishing partners quite quickly when fishing for musky. Not many are intrepid, or stupid, enough to throw heavy lines with dim possibility of merely seeing a fish. The ones brave or dumb enough to try once usually do not return future invitations to cast and figure-eight a fly resembling a wet red sock all day. Nonetheless, the weather was good for early spring and the moon phase was prime, so I decided to bring my most loyal fishing partner who was always up for the adventure.
Quavo was the husky-mix I adopted during one college summer after drinking a Long Island Iced Tea pitcher with lunch at the Salty Nut. He was yellow with blue eyes and triangular ears protruding from the sides of his head, reminiscent of Yoda. Quavo was my most loyal fishing partner although I do not think he liked fishing much at all; he would rather hunt bird and small game when I would take him into the woods. I would fish a hole and he would disappear for an hour or so and reappear as soon as I moved to another one. I regret not taking him more, for I was worried that he would bother others in the woods. He was much better than I at making friends out of strangers.
He was always nervous to be in the boat but happy to be with me. Today was no different. I loaded him into the back seat of my Jeep, and within minutes he was standing in the passenger seat with his nose touching the window. I hated when he stood like that, but he was just as excited as I was.
Once we reached the river, I loaded and launched the boat. I strapped the neon life jacket on him as he cooed excitedly. I carefully carried him down the muddy boat launch and put him in the middle seat of the raft. We began motoring upstream, and by the time I had cranked the outboard he was in the back with me. I manned the tiller while he leaned against my knees. The bow rode much higher due to the poor distribution of weight, but I did not care much and knew that Quavo did not either.
It was a rough day with the winds swirling. I struggled to get the boat into a good position and cast at what looked to be suitable structure. Quavo would cry when I went to the front of the boat to cast, so I stayed in the back.
After one ill-timed cast, the wind blew my fly into a bush. As I was untangling the wire tippet from the branches, the winds shifted. The raft spun and the anchor gave way. With the stiff mono butt section in the snake guides, the rod buckled against the spline and shattered.
I was left holding pieces of blue graphite, so I sat in the rear and began to cry. Since my father had died, I had always felt most alone when things went awry in the outdoors. Quavo put his front paw on my knee and with looked into my soul with his ice-blue eyes.
I let the boat drift back to the launch. Once there, I tied the boat to the bank and carried Quavo up to tie his lead to the sign. I tore the D-loop off the raft trying to wench it up the trailer. I swore loudly and Quavo shuddered. Then I burnt the clutch driving up the launch. The acrid odor only added to my ill content. After loading the Jeep, I opened the back door for Quavo. He was usually sure-footed, but this time he slipped on the seat, and his back leg caught in the running board. His body contorted and he yelped in pain. I picked him up and noticed he was limping, so I lifted him into the back seat. He slept the couple of hours home down the mountain, and I agonized the whole drive home that he could be seriously injured.
Over the next year, we went on a few more adventures. His hip seemed unaffected, but I always worried when he stretched. He remained steadfast by my side or on my feet and continued to grow into the best dog. Early one spring morning, I noticed something was amiss. Quavo breathed shallowly, and I watched him as I let him out. The wind pushed black clouds across the sky, and the strong red sun struggled to appear. Quavo languished as his thoracic cavity inundated with fluid. I tripled the residential street speed limit driving to the veterinarian. I carried him inside but knew he was already gone. He had never felt so heavy.
I was blessed to fish with some of the best people I call friends over the upcoming years. However, none of them have been as loyal as Quavo.