Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fishing with Sam

Sam, Josh and I often went fishing during the summer. In fact we went fishing in the spring, summer and fall. There were even occasional fishing trips in the winter when the weather was nice. It wasn't that we were great fishermen or that we were even particularly fond of fishing. It was simply the fact that fishing was something to do and it was as good a reason as any to get out and go somewhere. Whenever possible we combined a bit of adventure into our fishing trips. We would often sneak out onto Mr. Folk's property and fish down by the spill way out in his woods. The fishing was good and it was our own little private fishing hole.

We used whatever tackle we could lay our hands on. Sometimes we used bamboo poles with worms we had dug up ourselves. At other times we each had a rod and reel with a number of lures. We were never very good about putting our tackle up when we were done with it, so what we had to fish with changed with every trip. Coupled with that was the fact that our fishing trips were always a little spontaneous. They were just something we used to fill up our free time. When the mood struck us we grabbed whatever gear we could find and headed out.

Many of our trips ended at Williston Pond. That is to say the pond that is in Williston park, I'm not sure what it's name is even today. A number of memorable things happened on the shore of that little body of water. With all the fishing that we did there I myself only caught one memorable fish and that was on a day when I wasn't fishing. The Tuttle family (my Mom's side) was having a get together at the park. I was wondering around on the edge of the pond and picked a soda can up out of the water. I poured all the water out of it and noticed that something alive was in it. My cousin Louis ripped the can open and found a catfish inside. It had swum in and eaten until it was too big to get out again. We saved it and set it free. That catfish was the best catch I ever had at that pond...

Still, that didn't stop us from fishing there all the time. Sam would often get frustrated by our lack of “bites”. There were a number of huge carp that would swim around the pond constantly just below the surface. I think they loved to mock all the fisherman that wasted time by coming down to the pond. I don't know how many times I've watched Sam dangling something right in front of one and screaming at them to bite it. I have actually watched him bounce bait off of their mouths for minutes at the time. No matter what we tried they never would bite. Over the years we had tried every bait we could think of.

Finally Sam got an idea. We were heading down to the pond and he had an old rod and reel in his hand. As we walked he explained:

“You see what I've got on the line?” He asked, holding the end of the line up for me to see.

“A weight.” I answered.

“Yep! You know why?”

“No... They aren't going to bite that....”

“No, they won't. They won't bite anything!”


“Now you understand?”


“I am going to bash one's brains out!”


“I am going to sling the rod like a whip and then let the reel go so it will throw the weight.”

“I don't think that will work...”

“Well, you'll see when we get there!”

As soon as we arrived at the pond Sam put his idea into practice. I have to admit that it did much better than I thought it would. He would swing the rod and let the reel go and the weight would shoot down into the pond. I still wasn't convinced that it would do enough damage to hurt the fish, but I have to admit that it looked impressive.

Sam was getting better and better with his aim, but had run into a problem. The reel started to stick. This was very frustrating because a perfectly good cast would get stopped short and cause the weight to fly in some unwanted direction. Now, Sam should have taken some time to consider the fact that a heavy fishing weight flying in an unwanted direction was a bad thing. However, one of Sam's personality traits at that age was never to consider any facts at any time for any reason. He simply yelled at the reel for sticking and got ready to try again.

This is why he didn't think about the fact that it would be dangerous to cast standing right behind someone. Josh was crouched down on the shore looking at this and that. Sam had been trailing this carp trying to hit it with cast after cast. Finally he had gotten into a position where he was going to cast right over Josh's head. He pulled the rod back and cracked it like a whip. The weight shot away like a bullet!

Sadly this was one of the times the reel decided to stick. The result was that the weight flew low and shot right across the top of Josh's head. It made a trail trough his hair and the scalp it was attached to. That weight had cut him almost to the skull. Josh slapped his hand on his head and blood began pouring between his fingers.

We three were all alone at the pond and weren't sure what to do. Fortunately there was a dentist's office right in the park, so we made strait for it. They were actually able to both anesthetize and stitch the wound. My parents were thankful for their help and satisfied with the result. Needless to say that was the end of “fish striking” or whatever you want to call that method.

However, Sam was never a man to give up easily. It was only a short while before he came up with another plan. Once again we were down at the Williston pond and Sam was watching the carp swim around laughing ay him. After a few minutes he got an idea. He picked up a long stick and headed down to the edge of the pond.

“I'm going to spear one!” He said on his way to the shore.

“I don't think that's going to work.” I replied.

“It will. I've seen people do it.”

“You haven't seen them do it with an old pine tree limb.”

“No, but that doesn't matter. The point is that you can spear them.”

“Not with that you can't.”

“You'll see!”

Needless to say, I didn't expect to see anything of the kind. I didn't imagine for a moment that he would actually be able to drive an old pine stick into a swimming carp. In fact I thought that it was so ludicrous that I didn't even bother to stand there and watch. I began to wonder around the circumference of the pond watching the fish swim by. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Sam jamming the stick down into the water again and again. I thought he was insane, but I admired his resolve.

I had wandered over to the opposite side of the shore when Sam suddenly had a change in luck. I heard him scream my name at the top of his lungs and looked up to see something I never could have anticipated. There was Sam kneeling down with his stick jammed down in the water. He had chosen a section of the shore where there was a two foot drop separating earth from water. Squeezed between Sam's stick and the shore was a giant carp.

It seems that Sam had tried to spear the poor thing, but that he had missed. He jammed the stick down into the mud instead. In a flash he realized that the carp was between the stick and the shore, so he jerked the stick back in order to throw the fish out of the water. I believe it would have worked if it hadn't been for that two foot drop. In stead what Sam did was get the fish caught between his stick and the ground. I gathered all this in a moment while looking at him across the pond.

“Jeremy!” He creamed again.

“I'm coming!” I replied as I began to run full speed around the shore.

“I need your knife!”

“I'm coming!!”

“Hurry! It's going to get away!”

“I'm coming!!!”

“I need your knife to kill it!”

“I'm coming!!!!”

I was running as fast as I could, but the carp was making a steady break for it. I suppose the valiant fish had a love for life, because it certainly fought for it. It had been squirming back and forth with all it's strength from the moment it realized it was caught. Very slowly it was getting away. Finally Sam decided that he couldn't wait any longer for me. The fish was too close to freedom. I had gotten within twenty feet of Sam and I saw him reach down to the carp with his bear hand.

“Ahhhh!!!!” He screamed as he jerked back and let the carp fall in the water.

“It bit me!”

In deed it had. In a last ditch effort to save his fish Sam had reached valiantly into the carps mouth. In a last ditch effort to save it's own life it had bitten Sam as hard as it could. In this particular contest between man and beast the brave little fish was the winner. Sam stared at the pond in disbelief for a minute and then looked at his injured hand. After a moment he decided where the fault for all this calamity lay.

“Where were you!” He yelled at me.

“I was on the other side of the pond! I ran as fast as I could!”

“Why didn't you stay close? I told you I was going to get one!”

“I didn't think you could!”

“Well I did!”

“I know that now!”

“Why didn't you leave your knife with me!”

“You didn't ask for it!”

After this yelling match was over we decided that it wasn't anybody's fault. It was just a lack of planning. Sam spent a good part of the rest of the day trying to do what he had done again. However, he never met with any success. That was the closest he ever got to catching one of those carp. There were many other fishing trips on many other beautiful days, but no other carp ever got pulled out of the water by our little group. It almost makes me want to head back down to the Williston pond and see if the carp are still there slowly swimming around and mocking whoever comes to try his luck.

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