Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Gone Fishing [CCR]

The carbide light is a true miracle. Most record books credit it for its contribution to mining and spelunking. But few people give the carbide light credit for its contribution to coon hunting and fishing trips. Dad’s carbide light accompanied us on many fishing trips to the various fishing holes located around Colbert County. That light gave off a low but constant glow that provided all the light one needed while hiding under a bridge in a light rainfall. Most people know catfish bite best when a light rain sets in after a long hot day.

After Dad got home from work we went to the green house to get our cane poles and a shovel to dig bait. Now you may be wondering why we would keep fishing items in our green house. Note that I wrote “green house” and not “greenhouse”. After Mom and Dad built our house they built a rather large shed behind the house. They painted the shed green and thus it inherited the infamous logo. Today it is painted barn red, but it is still the green house.

We took the shovel down to the lower pasture to find the perfect place to dig. Cool and damp dirt meant finding the perfect worms for the trip. We could run around the pasture to catch grasshoppers or turn over logs for grub worms, but our earth worms were best. And if we didn’t have enough cane poles Dad always knew a spot along the creek or along our way to the fishing hole where we could find the best cane.

After catching our bait Dad would grab his tackle box and we climbed into the old 1951 Chevy that took us on many adventures in my childhood. Mom would bring some sandwiches out with a jug of tea for our supper. If were lucky we had Vienna sausages or potted meat and crackers. And we might even find a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

By the time we reached the fishing hole it might be just around dusk. We often parked near a bridge. It might be Rock Creek, Mulberry Creek, Bear Creek, or Buzzard Roost, but Dad always had a hole spied for our evening’s adventure. After parking Dad would pull out the carbide light, start the water drip, and strike the flame so we could see our way down to the creek. We made our way around the side of the bridge and down to the bank where Dad would often warn us of getting too close. I don’t ever remember the bank caving in on us, but Dad told us stories that made us know to keep our distance.

Down at the bank of the creek we anxiously waited for Dad to help us get our hooks ready. While Dad unraveled the line on our poles we dug through the bucket to find the choice worm for our catch. Once the hooks were baited we sat holding the pole waiting for the float to jiggle. Dad knew our short patience so he always put a float on our line. Eventually we pried the pole in the mud to hold it. Some time after the sun set the rain would start.

We hid under the bridge and watched our floats dance in the light of the carbide lantern while traffic intermittently clattered across the bridge above. Once the rain started the poles would begin dancing. And as we admired our catch, Dad would place the fish on the stringer. Sometimes as a young child our attention span grew short and we might not be alert to the job. That didn’t stop Dad. He would run from pole to pole as he gathered our catch.

As the night’s adventure came to a close we gathered the poles and rolled up the lines. Dad gave me the stringer of fish and we trotted up the hill to the truck. Along the trip home we reminisced of the fun we had and anticipated the fish dinner to come. After getting home Dad headed out to the green house and patiently cleaned the fish while I either helped or, most often, watched. The cats found a feast from where Dad threw the leftovers into the pasture and we headed into the house, readied for bed, and dreamed of the tomorrow’s anticipated fish fry.