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Published March 10, 2024

A Risky Splash

Written by
Kim Fundingsland
| The Dakotan

A Slice of Life

Several years ago, I was the key instigator of an incident that still wakes me up some nights. Not in a cold sweat or turn-on-the-light fear, but rather with a chuckle and a laugh.

However, the incident which I am about to reveal placed me in a situation so precarious that I might never have enjoyed the opportunity to laugh again. So much so that others in my company sternly warned that my very life was dangerously close to being extinguished.

The entire episode happened during an otherwise pleasant fishing trip. By agreement among friends, we arranged to rendezvous at the Parshall Bay boat ramp to engage in some wonderful walleye fishing on famed Lake Sakakawea. After some friendly greetings and warm handshakes, we backed three boats down the ramp and into the water.

Since I was a driver this day, I pulled my vehicle and trailer up the ramp and into a parking spot. During my short walk back to the dock

I noticed a set of keys someone had apparently dropped in the parking lot. I picked them up and put them in my pocket, intending to inquire if someone in our group had lost them.

However, so eager were we to head out for what surely was going to be some fantastic fishing, I forgot about the keys.

We were catching fish within minutes of reaching our chosen destination. All three boats were within close proximity of one another, close enough to talk fishing presentations and the like. As the cool of the morning gave way to warm sunshine and I began taking off my jacket, I felt the recently found keys in my pocket.

I placed the keys in a zippered compartment of my tackle bag for safe keeping. As we approached the noon hour the captain of one of our three boats said he forgot his boat’s lunch cooler in the back seat of his pickup and would have to make the long trip back to the dock to retrieve it.

It was an opening far too good to pass up. I said I was about to make a run back to the dock to get some necessary fishing gear I’d forgotten and wound kindly grab the lunch for him and his fishing buddies at the same time.

What I expected next was that he would be unable to locate his lost keys and tear his boat apart trying to find them. However, he produced his keys from his pocket, moved his boat next to mine, carefully handed me the keys, and generously thanked me for making the run up the lake so he could continue fishing.

I noticed that his keys were on a ring with no fob and similar in appearance to the set I found earlier, the very set of keys I had secreted away in my tackle bag.

I piloted my boat back to our fishing spot, pulled alongside the boat missing the cooler, and handed it off to them. This kind act was met with a very pleasant response from all. My plan was working to perfection.

As I eased my boat away from his, he said, “Wait. My keys.”

Having already switched to the keys I’d found earlier that morning, I carelessly tossed them to him, high enough in the air so he could see them but woefully short of landing in his boat. This act, of course, was my intent with the full knowledge that his real set of keys remained safely in my possession.

It was but a millisecond after the keys disappeared beneath the water that the air was filled with expletive deleted oaths that covered everything from my sanity to well-being. The third boat joined the fray too, expressing similar sentiments which now were gaining concurrence from the other occupants of my boat. My fishing partners strongly suggested we return to the dock before the others to avoid the threatened retaliation.

Naturally, I let this storm of saucy criticism build until I thought it best to come clean before someone made good on the threats directed at me or suffered from some sort of internal combustion.

Smiling, I held up the real set of keys which I safely handed from one boat to another. Well received at first, compliments quickly reverted to more threats rather than gracious appreciation for my memorable and cunning prank. When I questioned their obviously fragile persona and absence of sense of humor, their tone was elevated to a level never believed possible. Fishing boats nearby began moving away, staying close enough due to morbid curiosity, but unwilling venture within the "cone of the volcano".

My previously friendly fishing companions were now brandishing fillet knives and needle-nosed pliers and, in a tone that could only be described as unfiltered rage, led me to believe that I had, perhaps, overplayed my hand. I dismissed that possibility quickly, hiding a smirk and a smile I dare not reveal given the volatile and somewhat unpredictable circumstances of the moment.

Ahhh, the joy of fishing!

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