Tuesday, June 26, 2007
I caught my first fish today.
Actually, it was the second time in my life that I went fishing. The first time I was seven, and my dad took me along in the row boat, but I don't remember having a pole. I remember he had a cane pole, and I remember it was hot on Lauderdale Lake. Dad had chores to do on the farm, so we brought the bluegills home in a pail, and he dumped the fish into a stock tank, thinking to clean them later. Unfortunately for us, the heifers, and for the bluegills, it was a hot day and the cows were thirsty. By the time Dad got around to collecting the fish after milking the stock tank was dry and the fish had expired.
Fast forward fifty years. I recently admitted to an outdoorsy friend that I had never gone fishing, or at least had never caught a fish. So over the weekend he called to ask if we had a joint husband/wife fishing license. A what? I asked. Anyway, the license was bought, and we got up at an ungodly hour to drive to his house. My first impression was that it takes a whole lot of equipment to go fishing. What happened to the cane pole and worms, the row boat at the lake, and the galvanized pail? This was a motor boat with comfortable seats hauled behind an air-conditioned truck, with tackle boxes, nets, rods and reels, a cooler, and I don't know what all. I am not complaining; I just did not realize all the stuff a fisherman has. It was beautiful on the lake, hazy, the air thick with humidty, birds and dragonflies everywhere. The view of the Monona Terrace and the state capitol building was stunning. The mood in the boat was congenial.
It's fortunate that I was enjoying the scenery and the company because it became clear that I was not winning any prizes as a fisherwoman. In fact I only caught one bluegill, though the three of us reeled in enough for supper.
The other part of my fishing experience is that I learned how to clean a fish. I had never approached a raw fish with a knife before, and this was an event about which I had uneasy dreams. I imagined the fish's resentful glare, and I feared an accident similar to the one in an art class involving wood carving, and resulting in four stitches in my left pointer finger. I have a nifty scar to this day. Instead I just took a deep breath and went to it. My more experienced fishing friend did me the favor of filleting the bluegills, to prevent me from mangling the few precious fish we did catch.
The end result was I had a great day, and an even greater supper. My husband, who decided not to learn to gut fish, did a marvelous job of pan frying them, with sides of homemade potato salad and grilled asparagus. We're looking forward to some fresh raspberries later on. This was a good day.