B-Town Undercover: Ol’ Rusty Has Horse Power

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by Shawn Underwood

The other morning I awoke to the sounds of shouting and loud engines. Looking out the window, I noticed a plethora of boats in front of the house.

Hmmm, I guess the salmon are running, says I (which is weird, ‘cuz everyone knows salmon can’t run).

Later in the morning, as we walked the dogs along the beach (and yes, we were packing plenty of plastic poop bags thankyouverymuch), fisherman of all sizes and shapes were wading into the water with those rubber, thigh-high topper boots. They looked pretty serious (or at the very least wealthy) with their giant waders, pocketed vests full of fishing paraphernalia, and brightly colored sharp hook thingies hanging from their hats.

And of course, those $500 fishing rods.

Always looking for a story, I realized this was prime fodder for “Underwood/Undercover’s” column; action in the Three Tree Point neighborhood is usually newsworthy (and easy to cover since I can just walk to it).

After in-depth questioning from U.U., the wading fisherman told me that the annual Three Tree Point fishing derby was today. In fact, it was…right now! The fish “weigh in” was at high Noon on the corner of Three Tree Point. This really piqued my interest because I have not fished in some time and was itching to get out the old pole (rod in fish lingo) again.

Only a few things needed to be done to accomplish my goal:

  1. A Fishing license needed to be procured post haste, as we just saw the Coast Guard speeding by. The fish cops were everywhere (I quickly checked my creel for a half-drunk can of Schmidt sport beer. Nope, all clear).
  2. Find someone to row my boat – er, I mean fish with me and take notes.
  3. Buy tackle at Big 5 Sporting Goods Store, however I had left the remainder of my cash on the table at 909 Coffee and Wine just this morning, so a trip to the cash machine was in order.
  4. Wash “Ol’ Rusty” the trusty (but rusty) ol’ rowboat and drag it out of the weeds now growing over and into the boat.
  5. Launch the boat (in other words, drag it down the hill and throw it over the bank.)

After I procured “the goods” from Big 5, I still needed to find someone to row the boat while I fished for “Walter” (code word for world’s biggest fish).

This photo has nothing to do with this year's fishing derby, but it is a cool old photo of a tugboat grounded on Three Tree Point.I found my lazy 18 year-old son in his usual spot – half asleep in front of the television. After much pleading on my part, he grunts something that sounded like: “maybe later.” But then again, I seem to have misplaced by Grunt-to-English Dictionary so I’m not really sure what the heck he said.

“Time is of the essence son, lets go, it will be a wonderful bonding experience!”

These words of encouragement fell on deaf ears. I think it was the utterance of the word “bonding” that sealed my doom.

Or the fact that I failed to translate my English to Grunt.

Seeing my curt dismissal from my son, my long-suffering husband then piped up and said he would be the “horse power” and row our 15-foot sturdy metal skiff (aka “Ol’ Rusty” which, come to think of it, isn’t so sturdy, and not so metallic anymore, and has probably rusted away some of its 15-foot length) while I fished.

After the usual bickering we launched the boat…well, sort of. Spouse rolled the rear-wheeled boat most of the way down the hill, and then pushed it over the bank. The loud crashing noise caused a nearby fisherman to look up, as if to say, “Not sporting old chap!” I noticed that his pipe fell out of his clenched teeth as he stared at us, mouth agape.

We caught a fish immediately with my pink florescent squid that I procured at Big 5. This marvelous little rubber-hooked-bouncer had always brought me good luck on my rare previous fishing forays. Our silver salmon was a good foot-and-a-half and put up quite a fight. We took a picture of the little fellow and let him go. Somehow I didn’t think my brave little fish would suffice for a “weigh in.” I couldn’t bear to keep him, and with my sketchy de-boning skills he would have been sushi by the time I finished with him.

My man-made horsepower rowed us around the point just in time for the weigh-in party. Little did we know that we were in for a treat. The great magician “Castro” (Who? Just in from Cuba perhaps??) performed a host of magic tricks, none of which involved rowing a rusty skiff or de-hooking an angry dogfish. However, the main event was the fish “weigh in,” and the prize awarded the biggest fish tale, I mean fish. The largest salmon weighed in at 17 pounds and had teeth to match. I spotted the usual assortment of dogfish and flounders but the salmon winner was a thing to behold.

And lo and behold – cna you guess which local neighborhood humor columnist won a prize?

Underwood/Undercover may have to take up a new hobby other than reporting the neighborhood happenings. I humbly accepted the “Best Sportsmanship” award, crediting my “man-made-horse-power” engine. Horsepower missed the award ceremonies, since he was just starting his long row back home in Ol’ Rusty, against the current (ha!).

As I walked home after the event, Horsepower loped up behind me. I proudly showed him our award and he held up his broken oar.

“I tied Ol’ Rusty up to a log on the beach,” he said.

The Three Tree Point Fishing Derby is held every year right before Labor Day, so come check it out. Wear your boots, and fish off the shore or procure a boat, hopefully with an engine.

It is my turn to row Ol’ Rusty next year, so I think we better start a few hours earlier.

Twenty-five years of living in Burien gives Humorist Shawn Underwood much fodder for her writings.

All of her stories are true, or at least have a grain of truth with no added embellishments.

Or something like that.

Read more of her humor at her website here.

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