In memory of Ray Edward Parscal (father) and Roy Lee Parscal (brother).
Our annual fishing trips to Norton Lake in northern Kansas have left me with many memories of my dad and brother, both of whom are gone now. The one that really stands out sounds incredible, but it’s the honest to God truth.
We were fishing from the bank in a cove off the main lake. Dad always arrived at the lake before my brother, Roy, and me to get the latest gossip from the park ranger. That year, it was Northern Pike that had everyone excited. Stocked as part of a trial project, Norton was the only lake in Kansas where they thrived and spawned naturally. Dad was convinced we could catch one.
So early in the morning, the three of us headed to the cove. Dad was on the west bank, and my brother and I were on the other side. We were all using large spoons of different colors.
All at once, dad’s pole shot up in the air with both hands on it. Then his hands relaxed and dropped.
“I had him!” he yelled across the water. We laughed and told him he had a tree bass. Dad retied after losing the first spoon and continued to fish the same area. In no time at all, his pole went up again. Roy and I looked at each other.
“Do you suppose?” I asked.
We weren’t laughing anymore when we ran to dad’s side and discovered that he had a huge Northern. We were dumbfounded. And never having caught anything that big before, we didn’t know how to land him. The water was six to eight feet below us, and the bank was steep. After what seemed an eternity, we decided I was going to slide down to water with a pitifully small dip net. As I slid down the bank, the fish swam by me. We looked at each other, and I noticed he was hooked with a red and white spoon but had a black and white spoon dangling from the other corner of his mouth. It was dad’s first spoon.
Now the question was which way to dip a large fish – head first or tail first. I knew I had to do something quick, so I made a swipe from behind with the net. The moment the net touched his tail, he was gone. We were heartbroken.
We fished for another hour, but our heart was not in it. How could this happen? Back at the trailer, we went over it again and again. We decided we would try again early the next morning. I didn’t get much sleep that night as I thought about the cold eyes of the Northern as he swam by me.
Dad headed to bank first, and we followed a little later. He fished for a good 30 minutes and motioned to us to join him. It didn’t look like he was in the cove. Roy went to other side again.
I fished next to dad for awhile, but then decided that if I did hook him, I couldn’t land him. So I went to neck of cove where it was shallower with a sloping bank. There were cattails and grass, and I had to fish between it all.
When he hit, I thought I was hung-up, but when I set the hook, he took off. It was nip and tuck. The weeds were his ally, and he headed straight for them. Northerns don’t have much staying power after the first run, and I landed him easily. He weighed 14 lbs. – not a state record but the memory sure puts him in my book.