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Gone fishin’

Time to take up one of my favorite pastimes, one I haven’t had time to indulge in lately, fishing.

 

You would think I could find time to go fishing considering I have access to a pair of ponds and a lake, but things just haven’t worked out for me in that regard lately.

There’s a bucolic sense of relaxation when it comes to fishing, one of life’s simple pleasures documented so often in literature and real life.

I grew up a tad up the road from my dad’s farm, which included a secluded pond, and I remember the lazy summer days where he would take me fishing.

Back then fishing wasn’t so complicated.  I wasn’t shooting for a state record fish, rather I was content to grab my trusty bamboo pole and dig for worms around my house to use as bait.

A short time later I was set to go, ultimately finding my favorite spot down by the pond and dipping my pole into the water.

It usually took just a few minutes for the red and white fishing bobber to bounce up and down, a sure sign a fish was on the line, and then suddenly disappear.

You had to be quick on the draw, and more often than not I was, being rewarded with a sunfish or crappie and sometimes a bass on the other end of the line.

Sometimes a carp or maybe a catfish turned up, and you had to be careful with catfish and those barbs, but in that case daddy or my Aunt Ednes was nearby to help take the fish off the hook.

In those days, we didn’t necessarily prepare and eat the fish we caught at the pond but rather took a mess of them home to my waiting cat, not Whiskers, but the first cat I owned, White Paws.

White Paws would make short work of those fish, much like a Piranha would, cleaning them off down to the bone with a satisfied licking of her chops as a way of thanking her master for the unexpected treat.

It took me awhile to figure out the salmon cakes my mom would make for dinner during my childhood weren’t in fact made of the fish we caught, but that didn’t make them any less tasty.

I’ve been fishing at a number of different places during my lifetime, once in the Chesapeake Bay where my party hauled in almost 100 croaker and spot of different sizes.

I’ve also been fishing for salmon in Hope, Alaska during a trip I took in 1998 to visit my brother, and I actually hooked a salmon at that time.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing like cleaning fresh salmon, cutting them into square patties and putting salt, pepper and butter on them before wrapping them up in tin foil.

Punch a few small holes in the foil and put the fish over a fire, and soon the telltale sign of steam coming from the foil meant they were ready to go. 

Top things off with s’mores instead of a lemon phosphate, and much like Andy Griffith said in the episode, “The Bank Job,” “you’re right back in business.”  

But, nothing beats the down home relaxation and simplicity of putting a worm on a hook and dipping a bamboo pole into a pond, giving oneself a chance to pause and take in the natural surroundings without noise and disruption.

I mentioned in one of my earlier columns a sonnet from the English romantic poet, William Wordsworth, “The World Is Too Much With Us,” where he says, “The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; little we see in Nature that is ours…”

Don’t say you got the idea from me, but next time the world seems to be catching up to you, find an excuse to hang a sign on the door, Gone Fishin’ and beat a hasty retreat to the nearest pond for just a smidgen of homespun and down home relaxation as the Man upstairs intended it to be.