Fishing with D. Redux

I didn't take a camera this time, so I'm going to have to rely on words for highlights of my two days at the lake with D.:

About forty-five minutes after we arrived I was still putting away groceries and getting the cabin situated. D., though, had my mom's wire cage staked to the slope leading down to the lake, and the cage was in the water, already filled with baby bluegill and sunfish. When I walked outside, he pulled the cage out of the water. "Look," he said.

Fifteen fish lay on their sides, glistening dully in the setting sun, not even bothering to writhe or flop.

"If the lake people catch you keeping babies," I lied, "they'll make us leave."

"But they're stupid," D. said. He put the cage back in the water and held up a piece of fishing line with a gold hook tied to it. "I'm not even using bait."

"Just because they're stupid baby fish doesn't mean they deserve to die," I said.

"But, Chad," D. said, pleading. "They're really stupid."

Ten minutes later I was lakeside, and I pulled the cage out of the water, to check on the fish. It was empty.
* * *

D. had actually wanted to use the baby bluegill and sunfish as bait for catfish. He wanted to cut up the fish into pieces and spear them on his hooks. I convinced him to use stink bait instead, and he set two catfish lines just before dark.

Then we played some PS2 and watched "The Benchwarmers." Before he fell asleep, D. asked, "Should we go check the catfish lines?"

I convinced him to wait it out till morning, that the longer the lines were in the water, the better chance we'd have of finding a fish on them. After D. fell asleep, I thought a stupid but heartfelt little prayer to myself, Let the kid catch a catfish. Please. Just one catfish.

"Chad," D said, shaking me awake at ten after six the next morning. "The catfish lines."

"All right," I said. "Let's go check 'em out."

While we walked down the hill to the lake, I was thinking the same little prayer again: Let there be a catfish on the line. Just one crummy catfish.

D., barefooted, wearing only a pair of shorts, beat me down to the water. "Get the net," he yelled. "Hurry!"

I brought the net over to the dock, and found a catfish rolling over in the water, showing us his white belly.

A few minutes later, we had the four-pound fish out of the water, and unhooked, and delivered to the wire cage D. still had staked to the slope in the hill.
* * *

D. set catfish lines for the rest of the day--four of them at a time--and managed to pull a one-pounder out of the water at about noon.

He had stink bait on his hands, in his hair, all over his shorts.

My truck's cab still smells like the stuff.

It is not, oddly, a totally unpleasant stink.


fringes said...

Better than pictures. Thanks for the narrative.

Writing Blind said...

Yes, this was wonderful. God, I envy how you can tell a story.

Flood said...

I never thought of using bait!