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Feeling crappie

Watching more than 500 people fish at the State Ponds is not my normal Saturday. But two weekends ago, I was sent to photograph the kids fishing day sponsored by the Thomson Housing Authority.

The event brought back memories of times I spent fishing. Every guy has stories about how their father or grandfather took them to the lake and taught them how to fish -- not me.

I've never seen a fishing pole within 10 yards of my Dad. My Mom taught me how to fish. After all, her nickname used to be Catfish Claude. She was famous all over Dearing and in her hometown of Winfield for her fishing ability.

She has a story she tells about catching a record catfish that broke her line, watching the cork get pulled about the pond, wrapping the line around a nearby stick and yanking the fish out only to have the line re-break, sending the fish flopping into the water.

Sounds like a fish story, right? According to her, there were witnesses. Unfortunately, they have all taken that story to the grave.

But with such tutelage, how could I not learn the art of fishing? I even furthered my knowledge studying under an old friend named Josh. After my grandfather told us to stop throwing rocks into his small pond, we decided to try pulling fish out instead.

Josh had no fear of baiting a hook. I, on the other hand, had a weak stomach. Chicken livers grossed me out, and I had nothing against the worms. So as long as Josh loaded my hook, I could catch fish with the best of them.

One time we hiked back in the woods at his house near Harlem to fish a creek, which is a tad different from pond or lake fishing. Namely, the fish are -- how should I put it -- not quite ready for the taxidermist.

I am happy to report that I caught the biggest fish of the trip -- a tiny warmouth. Because it was my birthday, I decided not to cook and eat my prize fish. I wanted to keep it.

So, we filled up an ice chest with creek water and dropped in the catch of the day. We fed him a couple of worms so he wouldn't go hungry, and we hooked up Josh's old aquarium bubbler to make sure he could breathe.

Then we did the unthinkable. We named my fish. We were both reading The Once and Future King at the time, so we named him after the king of the moat: Old Jack.

After that, we did what most kids would do; we hid him from Josh's parents so that they wouldn't know we had a new pet. Josh kept him for a while, but he didn't last long.

I know; it's not the best fishing record you've ever seen. But at least I didn't stick with it long enough to earn a nickname. The only alliterative one I can think of I sure don't want to be saddled with: Crappie Kristopher.



Web posted on Thursday, April 8, 2004


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