Gone Fishing!

For my littlest one’s birthday, we went fishing. She really wanted to try it, and was growing tired of just fishing in her bathtub with plastic fish. So on our most recent vacation we set up a guided fishing trip to a pond on the hotel property in Virginia where we stayed (Primland…nice!!!) Why guided? My husband and I know just enough about fishing to be dangerous. And frankly, I wanted a third party present to settle any disputes.

When I was a kid my dad taught me to fish in the Little Lehigh Creek right near our home, so I knew a little bit about it. And once, when Eve was little and we were staying in the Adirondacks, I took her fishing. And after catching the same little 6-inch sunny over and over again, I finally cleaned it and we ate it. We cooked it in a bit of butter in a cast-iron pan over a campfire, and it was the most delicious two bites of fish I’ve ever eaten.

Apparently we looked like novices, because the hotel sent three guides with us. Yes, three: Carl, Carl, and Sammy. Eve and I already knew Sammy, since we had spent 3 hours with him the day before on a fabulous horse ride up Dove Mountain. But Carl and Carl were new to us. But let me tell you this: If the world ever starts coming to an end, I want guys like Carl, Carl, and Sammy around. They taught us how to fish and within an hour-and-a-half we caught five good-size catfish.

It takes Carl, Carl and Sammy to teach a girl to fish.

Lunch!

Scene of the crime: Carl washes up after cleaning the fish.

Carl also tried to teach me to fly fish. I asked him if he had ever gotten hit by a flying hook and he said “Only once.” Well, now it’s twice. I quickly realized fly fishing was not for me. It requires way too much arm relaxation with not enough payoff. I mean…catch and release?! Forget about it. If I want to enjoy being out on a river in nature without bringing home any fish, I’ll just go out there and sit.

The other Carl cleaned our fish for us and let me fry them up in the lodge’s industrial kitchen. So within an hour of catching the fish (the truth is Eve caught most of them), we were eating them up. It was total yumness. I mean, that is the closest to “farm to table” you can get, really, unless you are eating the fish raw right from the pond.

Frying up catfish in the pan.

Who is that lunch lady? Oh, it's me.

Fried catfish, hush puppies and fries...now that's country-fried living!

The other thing about fishing is that it makes you care about how clean the water is where your fish come from. While I doubt Carl, Carl, and Sammy consider themselves either liberal, environmentalists, or foodies, they probably do consider themselves conservationists—and understand the importance of protecting nature more than most.

What is that old saying? Something about teaching people to fish? It’s good.

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8 Responses to Gone Fishing!

  1. Donna in Delaware says:

    I miss fishing so much. My husband does not like to fish, he says it “hurts the fish” and he hates sports fisherman. I used to fish all of the time as a child. My great aunt, who was an excellent fisherwoman, started me fishing with a bamboo pole and floater. We worked on my casting until I got it right and started catching fish like they knew to just jump on the hook themselves!

    It has been many moons since that time, and I finally got to fish again for the first time in a long time from my best friend’s pier on the Wando River in SC last October. I did catch a small fish after many tries, plus being that it was nighttime, around 9pm, that too had something to do with my low catch. Nevertheless, it felt good to be out on a lake, river or stream again with a fishing “rod” in my hands, doing what I loved as a child. To catch fresh fish and have them cleaned, cooked and eaten in the same day is something not to be missed. The water was clean and the fishing and eating, great. I’ll never forget the fishing parties on the Rappahannock River in Virginia when the blues were running in large schools. What a time that was, they were fried up in the pan and everyone was full and happy and a bit tipsy from all of the beer. There’s nothing like it. I need to do it more often. So relaxing, but requires patience most times.

  2. Amanda says:

    The first time Rowan went fishing, his daddy held it up for them to get their pic taken and my poor little man ran away screaming when it started to wiggle! He’s a pro now, but, man, was it hard not to laugh that first time out. Makes you think about clean water is right. We don’t eat fresh-caught that often, but I can’t help but wonder what exactly we’re eating when we’re devouring the delicious fish and licking our plates afterward.

  3. Nancy says:

    Hilarious!

  4. Maya says:

    Great post!

  5. janet says:

    we went fishing with our grandpa. he had a boat and we went somewhere off long island. At 10 it didn’t seem important.
    all i know is we always had a good diet of flounder from all
    his fishing experience. i don’t remember how it fish. i remember how
    large his boat was and that we did catch fish. a little slippery for me.
    this 4th of july, my husband and i took my stepson on a fishing boat
    just for a nice sightseeing trip and to see the fireworks on the great south bay. Now all three of us want to go fishing. now i need to see
    about some equipment. after 40 years, we’ll see how it goes.

  6. Laura B. says:

    Way back when there were still many native trout, one summer my older brother had his eye on this 12″ brook trout that hung out just beneath a bridge in Trout Creek for 2 weeks. He was determined to get it.
    I tried to fish once or twice & was very good at it, but like Donna In Delaware’s husband, I knew I was hurting the fish(& the worms!), & gave it up.

    My brother was especially bossy one day as I accompanied him down to the bridge for his daily try @ this fish. I sat with him for what seemed like an eternity. The fish was visible, riding the current. Time & time again, he’d plop in his baited hook down right in front of the fish & the trout ignored it as it drifted by it.

    As I was eating red raspberries from a nearby bush, I bet him that I could catch that fish in a minute! I got the typical older brother chauvinist response. After much pesting, he gave me his rod & dared me. I removed his forlorn, injured worm from the hook & put in under leaves in the dirt & replaced it w/ a plump, ripe raspberry.
    I kid you not that that trout snapped up that berry & I was hauling that foot long trout out of the water in less than 90 seconds!
    My brother stood speechless, face pale, jaw hanging, in pure disbelief. What really topped it off was when I gently removed that beautiful fish from the hook & walked it down to the creek & released it. My brother never took me fishing w/ him again!

  7. Sue T says:

    Laura, what a great story! Reminds me of the poem “The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop (http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-fish/)

    Maria, that was a wonderful family story you shared. I enjoy all your posts. Thanks.

  8. Micah says:

    You and your readers may be interested to learn about my little company Green Tackle. We sell environmentally friendly fishing tackle like biodegradable fishing line and lead free sinkers. Our good friends and partners, Recycled Fish, are a non-profit organization who exemplify and promote a lifestyle of stewardship among anglers. If you are interested in fishing, and fishing responsibly, check us out.

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