Due to Daddy’s love of it – fishing was a big part of my growing up years. His enjoyment of the sport wasn’t the only motivation to fish. Putting food on the table for his family of six was a good incentive too. After my mother’s passing, sorting through thousands of photos was one of the tasks that fell to her daughters. Among her collection of pictures I found so many family fishing moments, I realized it was a more significant activity than I’d even remembered.
My earliest memories of fishing involved pre-dawn wake ups with the reward of sunrises on the water. I was such an active child, I can’t imagine myself sitting still for very long, but since we fished from Daddy’s boat, I’m sure I must have managed it. We usually arrived home with sun-kissed skin and a string of fish (catfish was most often the catch of the day). It was Mommy’s job to clean them and serve them up for supper. Deep fried fillets with hand cut fries, homemade slaw, and hushpuppies made-from-scratch was one delicious meal! But if the fish you caught was part of that meal, well, it made it all the better.
From a young age I had a fascination of bugs and lizards and nature in general. Fish were no exception. On one occasion my mother was in our bedroom when she smelled a foul odor. Upon investigation, she discovered a jar lid of fish eyeballs I’d collected from our last fishing trip tucked in among my pajamas and underwear! I guess that’s one fishing story I’ll never live down.
Over the past number of years I’ve become increasingly interested in providing more of the food we consume - thus the chicken raising for eggs, the growing of a vegetable garden and fruit bearing plants and all that canning. But I’ve also been wanting to go fishing again. This activity does not appeal to Judy and Barbara (sisters), but Annetta (a willing sister) has picked up her fishing pole once again and agreed to take me along. Without a boat, we had to settle for the closest dock. I’d forgotten how unpleasant baiting the hook is, but soon the line was cast and the waiting began. To my dismay, the only thing I successfully caught were two large turtles. While I’ve lived in Louisiana and eaten my share of crawfish etouffee, scrimp gumbo, and tasted Cajun sauce piquante turtle soup, I had no idea how to get this creature from lake to plate, so with much hissing, I released him back to his home of water.
How I wish my daddy had been sitting there with us once again – giving us pointers, whistling, laughing his infectious laugh, and eating Vienna sausages and crackers like he always did on fishing trips. While I returned home empty handed, I left that lake with a head full of sweet memories and plans to carry on this long-standing family tradition (minus the fish eyeballs).