[After reading this post, be sure to go to . . .echoes of the past. . . and read the poem
papa, mr. catfish and me!
Oh, I can just hear you now! WORMS! UGH! You shiver and squimishly shy away! But, WAIT! Don’t be in such a rush; there is actually a good reflection going on here. I do believe the reason this hit me last night is because throughout the entire day yesterday, my dad was heavy on my mind.
What a great man! He loved the out of doors and was his happiest either fishing on Lake Seminole or playing golf. He was also an avid hunter but that seemed to be put aside as he approached his senior senior years. How I loved the times he would take me fishing! The day before we would go digging for worms and set out early the next morning for the lake with his fishing boat in tow. No fancy rods and reels, just simple cane poles and the red wigglers for bait. He let me know right away he would not be baiting the hook for me. No, sir! He said he would have enough to do to keep his own pole baited and in the water.
There are no pictures of us in the family album but this is a very good replica of Daddy’s fishing boat. Could not find a photo of Daddy/daughter fishing!
Once on the water we road around and in a short while stopped at one of Daddy’s favorite fishing ‘holes’. With poles in hand, the first task at hand was baiting the hooks. I would shut my eyes and hesitantly dip my hand in the bucket coming out with a handful of squishy, wiggly worms. I would just look at them twisting and turning trying to crawl out of my hand in search of good ol’ Mother Earth. I would look over at Daddy silently hoping he would say, “OK, little girl, let me take care of that for you.” But, silence prevailed as he carefully tended to his own hook. I knew he was watching me out of the corner of his eye. Even his pipe could not hide the sly grin.
I carefully selected the prize worm and put the others back in the bucket to await their fate at a later time. Mother had already taught me how to sew so I decided I would just pretend I was threading a needle. [Not a very good analogy, I know.] Anyway, with the wiggly, swiggly worm between my fingers, I held my breath and voila managed to get it hooked without losing my breakfast. Whew!
Alas, with that done, I took a deep breath, sighed, smiled at my dad, and said, “At least the worst is over.” Oh, was I in for a surprise! With a flip of the line, the little worm hit the water, “Splash!” Dad and I sat in his fishing boat what seemed like forever but was probably no more than ten, maybe fifteen minutes. He glanced my way, asked if I was hungry and I said I would pass for the time being. After handling the worms, thoughts of eating just did not seem very appealing. Another ten, maybe fifteen minutes passed.
I squirmed, shifted in my seat, yawned (we hit the lake at dawn) and tried not to seem too bored or impatient. After all, I was nine years old and a girl for heaven’s sake. I should be home with Mother in the kitchen or playing with my baby dolls. Right? No way! I was like my dad and absolutely loved the outdoors. We both had looked forward to this day.
Of course, you know mine was no where near this big but to me it was the biggest catfish in the lake!
Then, it happened! It started with a slight tug on the end of the line. The tiny cork began to bobble up and down in the water, disappear and reappear within a matter of seconds. Daddy laid his pole aside and gently put his arm across my shoulder. The pole began to bend and I just knew it was going to break as it curved into a half moon. With a quick jerk, Daddy set the hook and helped me bring in the grandest catfish I had ever seen! I squealed with smiles and giggles as most girls do and wanted to jump up and down but remembered we were in the boat. That would have to wait until we were ashore. I was so excited but all I could do was simply stare at this huge fish with a half-eaten worm dangling from its mouth who appeared to be staring right back at me.
Oh, do you remember a little while ago my mentioning I was in for a surprise when I thought the worse was over? Have you figured that out yet? Yep, the next step was getting the fish OFF the hook. Of course, Daddy would not let me do that by myself since I was a novice and he did not want me to get finned. But I was required to watch diligently so I could learn the perfect technique for later fishing trips. With that task out of the way, we continued fishing for awhile, catching a few more catfish, and decided to end the trip with a ride around the lake.
After a few hours, we returned to shore, Daddy loaded the boat on the trailer and we headed for home. We talked about the fishing trip and how there would be more times like this one. I could not wait to get home and tell Mama about MY fish. That would come later, much later, for little did I know at the time that first the fish had to be CLEANED!
My daddy, Chester C. Lee, on the left and my uncle Carroll on the right