During one of last week’s nicer days – when the temperature wasn’t near 90 or 40 and the wind wasn’t blowing branches off the walnut and oak trees on our property – I had an urge to do some fishin’.
Not fishing, mind you, but fishin’.
Fishing is when you pay someone thousands of dollars to take you out in a boat off the coast of Oregon or Florida so you can try to hook a halibut or marlin without needing to down several doses of Dramamine.
Fishin’ is when you pack a lunch, sit in the shade next to river, try every lure you have in your tackle box and perhaps even pull a bass or some other species out of the water.
Fishing is when you spend hundreds of dollars on gear, clothing and permits, stand in a river in a catch-and-release zone and never get the chance to do any releasing.
Fishin’ is when you dig worms on your own property, take your folding chair to the big pond on a friend’s farm, watch your bobber move after every cast and reel in big, fat bluegill for as long as you wish.
Fishing is when you stand on a pier next to dozens of other people and try not to get your line tangled with theirs as you hope to be the only one around to pull up a small perch from the water 20 feet below, all the while keeping an eye on your bag of chips so a gull doesn’t steal it.
Fishin’ is when you go back to that same spot on the Army Corps lake that you’ve been going to for years, tie on your trusty crank-bait, find a hungry school of walleye and get your limit in time to fry up a few for dinner.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve done my share of fishing. And sometimes, it was quite memorable.
I remember catching a big pipefish while fishing from a dock near Port Angeles, Wash. (it looked like a big snake with fins).
And I can definitely tell you where you’ll have no problem catching lots of native rainbow and brook trout, as long as you’re willing to hike with your fly rod a few miles up a fairly steep trail in the Cascade Mountains.
But I always enjoyed fishin’, too, and I can vouch for the fact that it’s hard to beat catching a 12-inch yellow perch in a lake full of water direct from snowmelt, putting together a rotisserie unit with branches from nearby alders, filleting the perch and cooking it on the spot over an open fire.
Nowadays, I like going down to the Big Piney armed with a sour cream container full of moist dirt and native Texas County worms and seeing how many different species I can catch in a couple of hours. My record is five – it happened last spring on an outing with my nephew. We had a Department of Conservation “Missouri Fishes” brochure with us of that allowed us to identify all but one of them (kind of mysterious to land a 9-inch something-or-other, but at least we now know that something-or-others hit on worms).
And that big bluegill scenario comes from a true story that also took place last year – with the same nephew. You’ll just have to keep wondering where the pond is, but trust me, it’s exists (and I’m sure many of you know of similar places). I can’t think of too many better ways to pass some time than tossing a line into a piece of water that’s home to about a million one-pound bluegill that aren’t at all used to seeing hooks with worms dangled in front of them.
Half the fun was in waiting for overgrown red-ear or pumpkinseed sunfish to randomly appear at the end of the line in place of a bluegill. I’ve fished for sunfish in about a half-dozen states and I’ve never seen them as big as those things were.
As far as the walleye thing goes, I haven’t had the pleasure of catching one yet, although I have had the pleasure of eating the nice white meat they have to offer. But the catching part is definitely on my fishin’ to-do list.
I also intend to add black bass, white bass and two or three more species of catfish to my have-caught list. And rock bass – wait, make that goggle-eye (local vernacular is cool, no matter where you are). I haven’t caught one myself, but I’ve seen them caught and I’ve heard and read that they make some really good eatin’.
Got to do the fishin’ in order to enjoy the eatin’.
See you at the river.
Doug Davison is a writer, copy editor and advertising representative for the Houston Herald. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.