One incident that occurred during our trip was so odd that I decided it deserved its own post. I’m calling it “The Trout Farm Incident.” Not really sure how to describe it except that it was kind of a cross between a fishing trip, an episode of “Cops”, and an episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
It all started innocently enough. I had booked the Tahoe Queen excursion specifically to appeal to my mom and thought I should do something that would specifically appeal to the kid as well. He’d been mentioning going fishing and while I was on-line Googling “things to do in Lake Tahoe”, I came across a listing for the Tahoe Trout Farm.
It sounded like a great option for our group considering we didn’t have any fishing equipment of our own and the kid was a novice fisherman. He’d only been once before on a Cub Scout fishing excursion during which not a single fish was caught. Plus, this place offers to clean the fish for you (not a part of fishing that I am very fond of) – SOLD!
So, off we went to the trout farm. Now, from the website, it looks totally normal, right? And when we got there, it still appeared relatively normal…if somewhat smaller than I was expecting from my own previous experiences at fish farms. We parked and walked up to the office to check the prices and get set up. The first person we see is an older man who, except for the camouflage clothing and long beard, could be a twin for Phil Robertson from “Duck Dynasty.” . Instead, this guy has a short beard and is wearing a stained undershirt (which shoulda been my first clue to the “Cops”-like drama that was about to unfold) and had some kind of mixture of motor oil, fish guts and bait all over his hands. Then again, he is working in a fishing shack so I made allowances at the time.
And really, he turned out to be very nice. He came out and showed Ryan exactly how to bait his hook, where to stand, how to set the hook once the fish bit and everything. He then gave me a net and told me to stand by to scoop up the fish once Ryan reeled it in. I was okay with that having done a lot of fishing as a child – I can bait a hook with a worm and everything.
But I did catch and release fishing (so I’m even okay with holding a squirmy fish while unhooking it so I can throw it back) so I was NOT prepared for what my next job would be. I was to take the fish over to a nearby stump and use a piece of metal pipe (provided by undershirt guy) to whack the fish between the eyes and kill it.
Umm…yeah…no…not gonna happen. Undershirt guy rolled his eyes at me, but agreed he would be the designated fish-whacker.
Ryan dropped his baited hook in the water and I’m not kidding he had a fish hooked about 5 seconds later. I swooped in with the net, undershirt guy did his pipe whack thing and we had our first fish.
Now, all during this process, an older lady kept coming out from a nearby house and was kind of fussing at undershirt guy. You know how old married couples will kind of bicker at each other? Except something seemed a little off about her (besides her missing teeth) but I was initially paying so much attention to helping Ryan with his fish and managing the net and trying not to fall in the pond that I didn’t really grasp until later that she was drunk.
So Ryan keeps dropping his baited hook in and hauling out fish after fish until we had four in our bucket. He wanted one more, but I decided it was coming way too easily so we should move to a different spot on the pond where he might have to work a little more for it. While we were moving, the old lady finally fussed at undershirt guy enough that he went off to do whatever she was bitching about and left a younger guy (presumably his son?) to help us. I never did find out who this guy was because although he was wearing a matching stained undershirt (making me think he was part of the family), he didn’t speak. Like, at all.
Eventually, Ryan catches his last fish and the young guy took up the fish-whacking duties on that one and when I indicated we were done, he took the pole and the bucket of fish to the shed to clean them for us.
Meanwhile, we all headed to the outdoor hand washing station to get all the fish gook off our hands. The station was at the far end of the pond putting the shed between us and the only escape route back to the parking lot.
While we are washing our hands, old undershirt guy comes back and heads for the shed. He’s closely followed by old, toothless (and I now realized) drunk-off-her-ass lady who has ratcheted her bitching up to a whole new level. She’s reached the ranting and raving level and is screaming that the two guys need to give her the cordless phone in the shed so she can call the cops.
The two guys (who have obviously been through this before) CLOSE THEMSELVES UP IN THE SHED and we’re now stuck outside with crazy drunk lady blocking our only path of escape. I mean we’d have to walk within inches of her to get out so I decide we’re probably safer to stay where we are and hope she eventually gets tired of beating on the shed and goes away.
I was okay with that plan until her yelling reached a certain point and started to include profanity. And then it started to include the F word at the top of her lungs…and after about the second or third F-bomb got dropped I…don’t know what got into me, but I had had ENOUGH.
Now, I’m not above dropping some choice words myself in the privacy of my own room with the door shut or when I’m with a group of all adults, but I’ve gone to great lengths to keep profanity out of my household and not teach it to my son and there is no freakin’ way I’m gonna let some backwoods hillbilly crazy alcoholic teach my kid the F-word. So next thing I know, I’m yelling “HEY! YOU WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE, THERE’S A KID HERE!”
I’m normally so mild-mannered and avoid confrontation like the plague, but my mom told me afterwards that even she was afraid of me in that moment. Apparently, I’ve got some Mama Bear in me somewhere and this bitch was messin’ with my cub!
From the moment I first yelled “HEY!", she just stopped completely, muttered something about how of course she knew how to behave around kids and disappeared back toward the house. Once she was gone, the two undershirt guys opened the shed back up (big, brave men that they were) and the older guy started apologizing all over the place.
By then, I just wanted to get out of there because I was afraid the crazy lady was gonna come back. They told us our fish were free and they’d even clean ‘em for free, too, and they gave us business card for a local restaurant where we could take the fish and they’d cook them for us for dinner. I said find and that we’d wait in the parking lot by our car for them to bring the fish to us.
I did end up giving them $20 because of how nice the guy was to help Ryan at the beginning and, frankly, if he had to put up with that lady’s crap every day, I kinda felt sorry for him.
Then I had to have the whole talk with Ryan about what had happened to make sure he was okay and that he understood what was going on and all he said was “Mom, you sure knew how to make that lady shut up and go away and you didn’t even have to fight her or anything. I’m glad you never got that mad at ME!”
We finally got our fish all cleaned and in a bag with ice and went off to the restaurant where we had delicious fresh trout prepared two different ways: half of them were battered and fried and the other half were sautéed in a sherry cream sauce. We could have had a third preparation but it was Cajun seasoning and mom can’t tolerate spicy stuff so we didn’t do that one.
What about you? Did you ever find yourself in a situation where you were forced to stand up for yourself (against your better judgment)? How did it turn out?