Monday, June 13, 2011

Brown Bullhead, Hornpout, or Catfish?

                                                 Picture from
        As a kid, my father used to take me out to a small pond where we would go bait fishing, an action condemned by Norman Maclean in his book, "A River Runs Through It and other stories". If he had it his way, we would've spent long hours learning how to fly fish before even going out to the water. He did not have it his way though. We went to the small pond for fast and easy fishing. We caught a Hornpout every cast without fail. According to Norman Maclean, you cannot really fish without fly fishing. Bait or hardware fishers were frowned upon throughout the entire book, but on that day I can tell you that I was not frowning. I was fishing. I was having fun. I would throw my bait into the water. You could almost see ripples in the water headed straight for where I had just cast.
     My rod, the word that was emphasized by Maclean instead of the word pole, would begin to shake a little in my hand. I saw the bobber that I was using, another action Maclean would've been disappointed in, start to wiggle. I knew the fish was nibbling on the worm on the end of the hook. He was smart enough not to bite the hook. The water had ripples surrounding the bobber. Suddenly, the bobber would go under, causing an immediate reaction to yank the rod. The hook had been set. I would reel the fish in as fast as I could. The fish was never big enough to break my line, so this action was OK. When I had the fish within my vision, I would pull my pole high into the air, and put the fish onto the ground.
     My dad would then grasp the fish with his work glove, as he did not want the barb to touch him. He would take the fish off the hook and throw it back into the water. The fish would quickly swim away, with the ripples of the water following him. The fish itself was no pretty sight. I had heard someone call it a Catfish, so that is what I called it. He looked like a regular fish from the neck down. His head, however, was extremely grotesque. He had small eye balls that were far apart. Sticking from the corners of his mouth were whisker-like spikes. These were what I was taught to beware of. He also had some of these whiskers coming out from underneath his mouth, forming what looked to be a small beard. This fish was definitely the most weird of them all, but the fishing was fun. I do not care what Norman Maclean claims you must do to have fun while fishing, I know that as a kid, I had fun that day. For me, it was not all about technique, it was about catching the fish and landing it. The moral of the story is that you do not have to be an expert to fish. It is fun for anyone of any ages. The time spent with family members or friends doesn't hurt either.

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