Sunday, February 18, 2007

Takes A Lickin' And Keeps On Tickin'

You guessed it, another Clyde story from my memory bank! (Who's Clyde?)

Yeah, I done a lot of fishin' in my day. Don't matter what's bitin' I like to catch 'em. Even Carp. Most folks think Carp's a junk fish and ain't no good to eat. That ain't so. Gotta know how to clean 'em, gotta know how to cook 'em. And the bigger the fish the better. My favorite way is to smoke them Carp. Used to have a smoker, and when we'd get a mess of big Carp, that's what we'd do. Nothin' better than to eat smoked Carp on a hot summer evening and drink beer.

Do most of my fishin' these days with a pole, but I used to run outlines and jug fish a lot. Jug fishin's a real good time. Back in them days we'd buy a couple cases of cheap beer in bottles, drink one case of it, stopper up the end of the bottle so it'd float. Then we'd tie a hunk of fishin' line on the bottle neck and a hook on 'ta other end. Bait them up, set them driftin' on the water, lay back in the boat and drink beer until you see the bottles a bobbin' in the water. You get a case or two of 'jugs' out there, and it could keep you mighty busy!

But my favorite fishin' is for big ol' lunker catfish. I'm talkin' flatheads bigger than 20 pound. In my younger days I used to go catfish hoggin'. Ya'll get in the water, look for an undercut place along the bank. That's where them big catfish like to roost. You find a likely place, and start feelin' around under the water until you find one. Gotta be gentle, not move too fast. Them fish can be skittish. You tickle that big ol' cat's belly, and it calms them down. Give 'em a good belly rub, and it kind a puts them to sleep. Do that for a spell, then grab 'em! Inside the gills is a good place, but man them gill slits are sharp and cut your arms up fierce. But you pretty much have to grab 'em where you can. If you're lucky and got a big one, hang on brother! A thirty pounder will give ya'll a tussle and a half! Plum tucker you out to get him back to shore too.

Reminds me of the time me and a couple buddies went out on the river years back. You got to know where to look for them lunkers, and there's some mighty deep holes we knowed about that them cats liked to be. When you fish for the big ones, don't never set your pole down when the bait's in the water. Them cats will play around with the bait a spell, but when they take it, they take it fast, and you ain't gonna grab that pole quick enough. You could lose your pole, reel and all in a flash.

Now you talk to ten different catfish men, and you'll get ten different favorite baits. Some guys swear by night crawlers, some by dead minners, some by stink bait. A catfish will eat 'bout anything, truth be told. I done caught cats on all those kind of baits, but my favorite is chicken guts. Fresh chicken guts. That's what gets the big 'uns. We knowed a guy what butchered chickens, and we could get all the fresh guts we wanted.

We cut the motor when we got close to the hole, and drifted the rest of the way in. Last thing ya'll want to do is make noise. No clangin' and bangin' in the goddam boat, whisper when you talk. Them fish pick that noise up through the water and they're gone! We quietly baited up, and cast into the hole. Weren't about 2 minutes when I felt somethin' a nibblin' at my bait. You got to pay attention, 'cause even a big fish can be gentle like when they start. You got to be patient too. Got to know the right time to set the hook, or you just gave a catfish a free dinner.

That fish toyed with the bait for quite a spell, then I felt him take it. I pulled up on my pole with ever thing I had, and 'bout pulled my arms out of the sockets. That fish didn't move! Lord have mercy, he was a big 'un! He started to run, and I held the pressure on the pole. Felt like he was hooked real good, and he was playin' out a lot of line.

There's one thing 'bout them big cats, they fight like hell. So I held my rod high, and he started to tucker out. I started pumpin' my rod up and down, takin' in line, and finally got his big ass up to the boat. Son of a bitch, he was a monster! I hollered to my buddy, "Get the net, get the net!" But there 'twern't no net. We remembered the beer, but forgot the net.

I got the biggest cat I ever seen on my line, and no net to get him in the boat! I kept playin' him to tucker him out even more while a buddy got on each side of me. I was gonna get him as close to the boat as I could, and they was gonna grab him. He finally quit shakin' and was just a-floatin' on the water, so I held his head high and they took a grab. Each buddy had a hold of a fin. They got the head on the side of the boat but his tail was still in the water. I reached down to grab the fish by the mouth and drag him in, when that fish shook his head one last time, shook the hook, and my buddies lost their grip!

Without even thinkin' I dropped my pole,went to grab the bottom lip of the fish, but the cat swung his head and my hand went into its mouth. Then the bastard swallered my arm up to the elbow, and clamped down tight! Man, it hurt like hell! The more I yanked tryin' to get my arm out, the tighter that cat clamped down. What was worse, he was a-thrashin' around tryin' to get back in the water, and he was gonna take my ass with him! One of my buddies grabbed me around the waist to keep me in the boat, and the other started whackin' the fish on the head with his fists. Now why this punkin head didn't grab the damn fish and drag him in the boat is a mystery to me. But it happened so fast, and I was bellerin' and cussin' at the top of my voice, reckon he just wanted the fish to let go.

And the cat did let go. In one second, the cat unclamped his mouth and slipped back into the water. I looked at my arm, and it was all cut up and bleedin'. And I not only lost the biggest fish I ever seen, my wrist watch was gone too! Goddam fish ate it and took it with him! Damn fine watch it were. One of them Timex waterproof, shockproof, magnetproof watches that was a self-winder too.

A few years after that, we was out lunker fishin' again. I finally caught a cat what looked like he was bigger than the one that got away, out of the same river. We took him home, gonna steak him out and have us a big fish fry. He weighed forty-two and three quarter pound! Now there's only one way to skin a cat that big. I had my buddies hold him up whilst I nailed him to a tree at my place. Couple big ol' nails right in the head. Them big cats got a hide on 'em like leather, so it took some doin' to skin him out.

We put a bucket under him when we went to gut him. I slit the belly, and all the guts fell into the bucket, and I heard a 'clunk' noise. What the hell, I started siftin' through the guts to see what that cat done ate. What do you think I found? My watch! If I'm lyin' I'm dyin', the same damn watch I lost a couple years ago was still in the belly of the same damn fish what tried to drag my ass out of the boat! The damn thing was still runnin', and had the right time to boot!

I still got that watch, still got the scars on my arm from when I first met Mr. Big Ol' Catfish. And the watch still works perfect. When they tell you them Timex watches take a lickin' and keep on tickin', it be a fact!

No comments:

Site Meter