It began as just another fishing trip. I was up hours before dawn and within minutes
zooming down the back roads of Colorado for some challenging fishing. After an hour, I pulled
into an old cafe for some hot coffee. The gas pumps in front of the place were covered with rust
and surrounded by weeds. I guessed they hadn’t been operable for forty years.
The place was nearly empty. A few locals read the paper, and some farmers bitched about
the “fedral govmint” while waiting for the post office to open so they could collect their crop
subsidy payments. A waitress with neon pink fingernails approached me. “What’ll ya have?” she
“How do you like it?”
“Hot,” I said. She returned in a minute with some piping hot coffee in a white ceramic
mug. As I sipped my java, I scanned my crumpled map and said, “Hmmmm, I wonder which
one of these lakes has got the big fish.”
I guess I spoke too loud because one old-timer sauntered over to me and said, “If you’re
looking for a good place to fish, Williams Lake’s the spot. Why a man could pull trout out of
there as big as a football all day long!”
“Don’t listen to Earl,” warned another old codger, “the best spot ’round here is Dawson’s
Reservoir. There’s trout in there to beat the band. I mean big ole trout!”
“Gee fellas,” I said, “I’m not looking for some mamby pamby place where just anybody
can drop a line and catch monster trout. I’m looking for a challenge.”
“You mean you don’t get a charge out of showing all your friends the string of whoppers
you catch when you go fishing?”
“No,” I said, “I don’t let my ego get involved. I don’t care if I catch fish or not — as long
as it’s challenging.”
“Well,” said Earl as he scratched his chin, “if it’s a challenge you want, why not try
“I didn’t see any Anguish Lake on the map,” I said.
“That’s ‘cuz ain’t nobody fished it in years,” said the second old-timer. “Why it’s just hell
to fish. It’s filled with every form of snag known to mankind. I once heard tell of a fella who
hooked a weed and pulled so hard he sunk his whole boat and drowned!”
“Yeah, and they got trout in there so worldly they’ll nibble your hook clean to the metal
and leave you faster than a Kansas City hooker. There’s one old trout in there so big and fat and
ornery they call him the Incredible Hulk.”
“Gee,” I said, “Anguish Lake sounds like my kind of place.” After getting directions from
Earl, I eventually found the road to Anguish Lake, otherwise known as County Road 117-H, but
it became impassable about a half-mile from the water. At this point, the “road” was nothing more
than two barely noticeable tracks in the mud, but the real problem was a tree trunk — about four
feet in diameter — which had evidently been struck by lightning and now blocked my path.
A tree trunk would not deter me. I got my gear together and hoisted my aluminum
rowboat down off of the Jeep. Sure, it weighed eighty pounds, but that didn’t seem like too much
to carry on my back in return for a fun-filled day of challenging fishing.
Before I decided what type of lure to use, I opened a can of beer. It was only 7:00 a.m.,
but if you’re going to do macho things like fish at Anguish Lake, you really should drink beer.
Today’s beers are less filling and taste great.
When I finished my beer, it was time to get down to business. I tried all types of lures,
even worms, and salmon eggs until I was blue in the face, but I didn’t get so much as a nibble. I
was so tired I treated myself to another beer.
By noon I was getting discouraged and the weather was getting worse. Dark storm clouds
gathered. Then the rain came. The wind blew at nearly gale force, tossing my little boat to and
fro like a piece of welfare legislation. One of my beer cans fell into the lake. Being an
environmentalist, I didn’t want to leave it there — someone else might make it to Anguish Lake in
the next decade and I didn’t want my beer can to spoil it for them. I figured I could put a treble-
hook on my line, snag the can, and reel it in like a true sportsman.
I cast perfectly, but just as I snagged the can the biggest trout I’ve ever seen erupted out
of the water, devoured the beer can, and dove for the bottom like a Trident submarine. I knew
right away I had the monster trout known as the Incredible Hulk.
That fish pulled me and my little boat for hours. It was all I could do to hang on. Every
bone in my body screamed in agony. But I sure wanted to catch the Incredible Hulk. Not because
I wanted to brag about catching a fifty-pound trout — I didn’t care about that. I just enjoyed the
challenge of it.
By night the storm had reached hurricane proportions. Twenty-foot swells tossed my little
craft up and down. It was all I could do to hang on. Only my instincts kept me alive. Just when I
thought the Incredible Hulk was out of steam, he’d surge ahead with a sudden burst of energy
and me and my tiny boat would be off to the races again. All I could do was smile, open another
can of beer, and tell myself, “Mark, it doesn’t get any better than this.”
But there comes a time when a monster trout can’t keep up the fight. Fishing is really
a duel of wits, and there was no doubt in my mind that I was smarter than 97% of all trout!
Sure enough, I eventually landed the Incredible Hulk. You probably won’t believe this,
but what happened was I threw another beer can into the water. When the Hulkster jumped for it,
I smacked him upside the head with one of my oars. I had to drink six more beers to do it, but I
repeated this procedure a half-dozen times and that seemed to take most of the fight out of the
so-called Incredible Hulk.
I recall my trip to Anguish Lake with fond memories. For a while, I had the Incredible
Hulk mounted above my fireplace — not because I wanted to show off — but just so others would
know how much fun you can have from some challenging fishing. I was going to submit a
photograph of the Incredible Hulk with this story, but some thieves broke in last night and stole him.