My beautiful child bride Suzanne reminded me of a story from many years back. Well, actually several stories. They all involve fishing.
The blog post she read asked, “Do you have a fishing story from your childhood?” I have a few.
When I was about five years old, my father and I went camping. Just us men. My brother was not yet born but was on the way. My father put a mattress in the back of his station wagon and loaded up some supplies and off to the lake we went.
We got there and Daddy (pronounce Dead-E in the South) set up camp. Then, we went fishing at the lake. I caught a beautiful rainbow trout. It was about five foot in length and weighed about 500 pounds. Isn’t that the way fishing stories are supposed to go?
Regardless of the size, this was my first fish. My father was going to have it mounted. Daddy went back up to our camp to start supper and I stayed at the lake. The fishing spot was within sight of the camp.
Shortly, I caught a second fish. I pulled it in, we were using cane poles, and Daddy came running to help. He put that fish on the stringer with my other fish and one he had caught and we ate supper.
That night we slept in the back of the station wagon and it began to rain. Rain? It poured buckets. Daddy decided to go back home so he went down to the lake to get our fish. A turtle had beaten him to it. The first, second, and ONLY fish I ever caught in my life were eaten by Leonardo that night.
Daddy and I would go fishing several times over the years. We went camping with the family sometimes and usually fished when we did. But I never caught another fish.
In high school, I had a good friend, Roger. Roger would fish in a mud hole if that was all he could find and ALWAYS catch a fish. Sometimes it was a guppy or two. Most of the time he would have a pretty good stringer of fish and I would always have a nice clean stringer in my pocket, just in case I caught something.
One day Roger loaded his john boat in the back of Granny’s pickup truck and drove to school. He planned to fish after school. He had a bucket of minnows in the truck under the john boat.
During lunch he asked me if I would go with him to check on his minnows out in the parking lot. I agreed to do so.
Back then at Crescent High School in Starr-Iva, South Carolina, it was against the rules to be in the parking lot during the school day. The school was worried that people would steal things from other students’ cars.
If a student was caught in the parking lot during the school day without permission, there was a “no questions asked policy” that said you would get ten demerits and that would get you suspended from school for three days.
Roger and I were looking in the back of Granny’s pickup when Mr. Green, the assistant principal and head disciplinarian, walked into the parking lot. He headed straight for us. As he approached, he said, “What are you boys doing out here?”
Roger told him he was going fishing after school and he wanted to make sure his minnows were okay. Mr. Green loved to fish and he started asking Roger about where he was going fishing and what he was fishing for. As they spoke, the bell rang to end lunch period. The two continued to speak as I listened.
Mr. Green turned to me and said, “Well, Bird, are you going fishing with him?” I told him, no, I had to work that afternoon, but we would probably meet up on the weekend to fish.
Mr. Green reached in his pocket and pulled out a pad. He carried two pads, one for issuing demerits and one for passes. He said, “The bell has already rung, so I guess you will need a pass to get back in class.” He was looking only at Roger at the time. Roger took his pass and headed for the building.
Mr. Green looked at me and smiled and said, “Yes, I will give you one, too.” Thanks, Mr. Green.
Like I said, Roger would fish in a mud puddle and usually catch something. I would go with him and catch nothing. Once he and I were at one of his favorite fishing holes and he was pulling them in as fast as he could reel. The only thing I was getting was a sunburn.
I finally said, “Roger, maybe the fish don’t like my smell. How ‘bout baiting my hook?” He baited my hook using his bait bucket. I threw my hook in the water and proceeded to start catching…
Nothing. Not even a nibble.
Okay, I rebaited my hook after a while and noticed he was still catching. He had already caught his limit. I asked him to swap rods with me. He agreed to do so and I sat back. We left his hook in the water where he had been fishing and he came and picked up my rod and started fishing with it where I had left it.
I sat down on the bank and proceeded to catch…
Nothing. But Roger was pulling his second fish using my rod. He left his stringer where it had been and I gave him my fresh, never used stringer. We fished until Roger had caught both our limits and we left and went back to Granny’s.
Roger cleaned them and Granny fried them. I got to eat some, but to this day I have never eaten a fish I have caught. I have never cleaned a fish and probably never will.
I am sad to say this is a true story.
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