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After Dark

I stayed up way too late last night. Chase called on his way home from work and told me that we were going catfishing. That's usually how things like this begin.

My brand new son- in- law Bryan was going too, although my daughter wasn't crazy about the idea. No worries though, she would stay at our house and await his return. She ended up asleep on my side of the bed until we got back. Apparently, their agreed upon curfew was 11:30, and he did his best to keep it despite Chase's nudging him to stay longer. My son has no concept of time when it comes to fish, whether they are biting or not.

So there we stood in the dark, on a bridge that crosses the Tyger  River. Every creature that flies or creepeth upon the ground was out. The noise from insects and frogs in the surrounding swamp was deafening. Chase was our catfish guide. He'd brought all the rods, bait and any tackle we might need. Chase's bait of choice was chunks of chicken breast marinated in his secret formula. It smelled good to me-- would've been good on the grill, probably. He said it would bring in the big boys, plus it would stay on the hook better than a gob of chicken liver wrapped in a piece of pantyhose. He even volunteered to bait the hooks for us, or at least he got tired of waiting for me and Bryan to do it. We didn't try to stop him.

Soon, the action began. The alarm of a bait clicker got us off the guard rail, and Chase set the hook on the first one-- a nice channel cat. The three of us worked together to land the fish. Chase handed me the rod and he climbed down off the bridge to the sandbar to keep the fish out of the weeds, while Bryan shined the light for him. Then Bryan assisted me pulling the heavy fish up and over the rail of the bridge.

By the time we removed the circle hook and re- baited and threw it back out, another fish was on. Bryan and I took turns with the next two fish, both of which were fine channel catfish as well, and we all worked together to land them. Each of us was credited with catching a fish, with Bryan's being the biggest. I even managed to hook up with the biggest snapping turtle that I had seen in a long time. Chase went down to pull the turtle to the bank so that he could remove the hook and release it, but as he applied the pressure, the leader broke, sending the sinker back at him like a bullet, popping him on the cheekbone. He could've lost an eye or some teeth, but he got lucky.

Catching fish is always nice, but it's not the point I want to make. It was what went on between fish that I enjoyed the most. Watching those two young men enjoying themselves, despite the coarse language and ribbing that goes along with a good fishing trip, was the good part. This is not some mushy crap, but I'm proud of these two. They could've been doing any number of things last night, but they chose to fish instead. We stood on that bridge in the dark, smelling of fish slime, and did what fishermen do. We didn't talk about our feelings, or politics, or relationships. Instead, we talked about fishing, a little about work, and about the boogers that were probably hiding out there in the dark, just beyond the reach of our lights. We were taking part in an ancient rite of manhood, handed down by our forefathers and hunter- gatherer ancestors. We were enjoying each other's company, telling stories and sharing ideas as we worked together to find and capture something that would always sustain us.

Comments

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Joe! That means a lot to me.

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    2. Just being outdoors and doing what connects you to nature, and the nature of living life as it is meant to be, a grand thing never to be ignored.

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    3. So true, my friend. Thanks, Tom.

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