Saturday, February 10, 2007


"The pleasantist' thing in Angling
is to see the fish on Golden Oar
shoot through the silver stream
and greedily devour
the treacherous bait"

"Out of the blue and into the black..."
Neil Young

Dad absolutely loved to fish. My first memory that I can put a date to was after my sister Lisa was born; I would have been 27 months or 2 and 1/4 years old. Mom had been home from the hospital for a week or two and was laying in bed nursing Lisa. Dad had asked if she were OK and if he and I could go out to Grapevine Lake for the afternoon. I assume permission had been granted and as he and I walked out the garage Door. I remember asking very soberly if "Mother" was going to be okay with us gone.

We climbed into a big ol' Oldsmobile, a 1958 punked out with Jet Fighter Wings and a motherlode of Chrome, and within 10 minutes we were hopelessly stuck in a muddy field. It was a short cut Dad had been using to get onto the Blacktop from the house. To think that moments before I had been concerned about "Mothers" welfare.
"Ahab, beware of Ahab."
This is my first memory. We spent the whole afternoon trying to get unstuck. We did not make it to the lake that day.
I think it explains a lot about why Mom was always a little concerned for us, outside of just being a Mom. I'm sure that she was relieved that day, with us close by in the field.

One evening in Detroit, Dad shakes me out from in front of the TV.
"Come along here boy, I need some help."
He is grinnin' like a Butchers dog, has an empty Coffee can, and also his Headlight-Flashlight on. Its the business end of a flashlight attached to a headband that you wear on your head, a separate battery pack that clipped to the hip; it was manufactured in the 1940's and would be worth a lot of money now. No, probably it wouldn't be worth much to anyone but me. Dad kept it with all his Camping and Fishing gear in his Sea Chest.

Down the street we go in the dark, Dad looking like some kind of spelunker that has lost his cave. I have no idea what this one is about, but Dad always had some kind of project/adventure going. We get to Mr. Bowles house. Dads illuminating gaze is directed down, down into Mr. Bowles flower bed and laying on top of the ground are the Biggest worms that I have ever seen. They are almost a foot long, as big around as a pencil, and you can see the big blue vein though the Opaque reddish and tan wormskin. There must be hundreds of em'!

"Wow, thats cool Dad... what are they?"
"Night Crawlers"
"Night Crawlers?"
"Yes, and we are going to use them to fish with"
'Now that one there, where the light is shining, get him."
I take a step towards the bed and drop to my knees. As soon as I hit the ground, all the Night Crawlers, quick as lightning, zip into their holes. I had no idea that a worm could move that fast.
"Out of the Blue..."
"You have to creep up on em' nice and easy" Dad explained. "They feel the vibratiions."
"...and into the Black"

We move down the bed to where there are more laying undisturbed. Stealthily, I go to my knees and crawl up to where I can reach one.
"You're going to have be fast..."
Yeah, Dad I get it!" and I try to grab the first one.

Not only do you have to be fast, you have to choose the right end of the worm to grab; you have to grab the end that goes back into the hole. Otherwise, all you get is mud. The worm is no dummy, and never comes all the way out of the hole, and stands ready to go below to safety.
You have to be smarter than the worm.

I got pretty good at it. The Coffee can would be full of worms. A fishing trip would follow the next day, and what fish we caught with our worms!!! We did not sit on a dock, catching Dad rigged the live worms to where we could troll them from the boat, and we caught Walleye, Pike and I even took a 4 foot Musky one day my, hey hey...

But the time spent simply gathering bait, being outwitted and outrun by a worm that was faster and smarter than us... I would laugh, and Dad would chuckle... and... during the 4 tears we spent there...
Mr Bowles never seemed to miss his worms!

I didn't know then that one day I would be in charge of gathering the bait, planning the trip, packing the tackle and gear and even setting up and baiting Dads rod on what would be his last Fishing trip.

Theres more to the picture
Than meets the eye
Hey hey, my my


Mother of Invention said...

Aw, and that is such a sweet "Bonding" memory. Nothing like being in a boat or canoe and bonding to the person in it.
My dad wanted boys but he got 3 girls...still we went to his hunting and fishing camp and caught frogs and sat still in a boat all day while we fished for pickerel and small-mouth bass. He also had Williams Wobblers and a neat collection of various colours in the cool tacklebox! I used to love looking at it and asking what they were all used for....they still fascinate me! My dad has an old wicker fishing basket that his dad had. Now my husband belongs to the club and I go up every summer. It is quite the legacy!

My dad would envy you that musky! He has always wanted to catch one!

Old Lady said...

I didn't get to go fishing until I was an adult. That was reserved only for the "boys". I really enjoy fishing, but have never fished fresh water, only salt water!

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhhh cowboy you just gave me the shivers..........i've recently completed a poem called Fish Camp which the Shakespeare piece describes (in fewer words and better) perfectly........and the worms........are you looking over my know I've been thinking of writing about working in my mom's worm farm one was yucky!!!

GrizzBabe said...

Worms! Blech! That's why I never went fishig.

Barbara said...

I guess now I understand why you took your fishing gear on your honeymoon. I love reading about your dad. I could just picture that big old car stuck in the field with its whitewall tires getting black with mud. It sounds like your dad lived a pretty good life before he got sick.

Anonymous said...

Mom;an old tacklebox is such a curiosity, full of Romance and possibility. The fishing pole that I caught that Musky on was a Zebco77...the smallest pole and reel combination offered,almost a toy. for those of you unfamiliar with the muskelunge, it is the Freshwater equivalent of a Barracuda and catching one is the equivalent of winning the Super Bowl.
old Lady- I guess you be a Salty old lady and very well seasoned...
RDG-A worm farm? That is really cute.
Griz you are all girl arent you?
barbara- thanks for hanging in there with me...I didn't think this post quite fit,or would be any fun to read, so its good to know that you like it. I just write em and hope that there is something there for the greater context, and I am really having a blast doing it.

Mother Hen said...

Brawk! You should hang out on the interstate, some good bait out there if you wait long enough!

steve said...

Been there, done that, can do!
You better stay off that hiway, ol bird...

Annelisa said...

:-) reminded me of fishing in the local fishpond (there's a picture of it frozen on the poem Hand of Ice you read earlier) when I was a kid - we only used mushed up bread though. Later, when I visited my uncle in Denmark, I went sea-fishing, and caught bucket-loads of plaice - they were delicious... the best fish I've ever eaten!! :-D

Your dad sounds lovely - I truly love the way he left you to catch your first worms! :-D

Mother of Invention said...

We all loved going fishing just to share my dad's passion and in-so-doing, we got to be a part of him. I used to kneel down and ask him what each one was called, what it caught, and whether it was a lucky one! A tackle box is a very wonderfully personal thing! A box of pride and a box full of stories! Teeming with memories! My dad would have liked your dad.
He was just telling us last night that his 4 best friends at Centralia, where he learned to fly, were from the States. Many Americans got trained in Canada since they weren't officially in the war yet and it was the only place. One guy they called Tex. Everyone, once they got their wings,had to fly a plane under this bridge as a sort of right of passage. He said the Americans were crazy and started this tradition. That would be wild if my dad knew yours. My dad's 86 now.

Anonymous said...

picking up Red Wigglers and stuffing them in bait boxes was NOT was SLIMY WORK, I'll have you know......