The man was really just showing off his boat. He had a boat that doubtless cost more than his truck, probably more than his mobile home, his buddies were with him, and he hailed me a few yards from the fishing pier and asked, “What y’ fishing for?”
“Dinner,” I answered.
This evoked a chuckle from the fellow’s two good-natured companions. I was shore-bound, and, for Cedar Lake purposes, the others were on a luxury yacht. It seemed expedient to humor them. “What’re y’all fishing for?” I asked.
“Anything big. Trophy bass, trophy crappie, trophy catfish—big fish have come out of this lake, y’ know.”
“I know,” I said. Suddenly, my line tightened and I hauled in the catch.
My antagonizers looked on with interest. “Wha’d ya’ catch?” the dumb one asked.
“Bait,” I answered.
They laughed. But I did not have the heart to subject the little panfish to other fatal tortures; I let him go.
“Are y’all catching anything?” I asked
“Not yet,” one of the trio admitted.
“Are you fishin’ deep?”
“Yeah. Those bass want that cooler water.”
“That’s right,” I said; but I was lying. The fish want oxygenated water. Consequently, they would likely favor the shallow areas on hot August days like this one. This rule may not apply to larger bodies of water, but it does apply to ponds, and maybe to Cedar Lake.
I caught another fish, this one a “keeper.” As I dropped it into my “catch bucket” I was asked, “What you usin’ fer bait?”
“Vi-eenie sausage,” I answered, using the colloquial pronunciation favored by my ancestors. These fellows knew exactly what I was talking about. “You cut it lengthwise into slivers,” I explained. “I guess I would cut it into chunks, if I was fishing deep for bass. The bream think it’s worms. They ain’t far from the truth. Vi-eenie sausage has a lot of worm meat in it, you know, that ain’t listed in the ingredients. Actually, that’s probably the best quality of meat in it, unless you like chicken guts and stuff.”
The trio looked reproachfully at each other. “Man, we et all our Vi-eenie sausages an hour ago. We didn’t know they made good bait. I don’t reckon you have any you can spare, do you?”
I surrendered one link each to the three fishermen. “Fish deep,” I advised, and they rocketed off (in a “no wake” zone) to another area of the lake to try their luck.
I fished in peace for a few minutes before an assortment of children—nieces and nephews—came running up with two reels and a cane pole. They had been swimming and reminded me of wet puppies at bath time.
They examined my catch bucket and asked, “Uncle, can we fish with you?”
“I don’t know,” I said skeptically. “Is that professional equipment you have?”
“Yessir! This is a pole, and this is a Spiderman and a Barbie rod and reel!”
Well, I could not argue with that. We established some ground rules and began fishing.
I am not so old that I do not have fond recollections of Daddy taking me fishing when I was a child. I relived those experiences when these children excitedly hauled in their little catches. We were having fun, but when the six-year-old niece hollered, “Uncle! Help!” it was all business.
She had the cane pole, and at the end of it was a fighting bass that had to be at least three or four pounds!
With a little assistance, she hauled in her prize catch. Family members were summoned, pictures were taken. There was not enough for everybody, but the kids’ fish were on the dinner menu, and there was general good feeling and happiness all around. What’s more, it cost (probably) thousands of dollars less than it cost the fellows I’d met earlier.
And the kids learned valuable fishing lessons, too: First, listen to you uncle. Second, use a Barbie or Spiderman rod and reel or a cane pole. But most of all, have fun! After all, if you’re not having fun, you may as well be working.