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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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63

#63. I have angled for catfish in the Louisiana bayou.

Actually, ‘angled’ is probably the wrong word for it. More accurately, I dangled for catfish in the bayou that day. But, um, that doesn’t sound so good, so perhaps I should explain.

I was pretty young — maybe six or eight years old, though I could be way off. (Hey, I can’t picture it that well in my mind, and who can tell how old little kids are by looking, anyway? Lay off, would you?)

Anyway, several members of our family (Heh. He said, ‘members’.) took a vacation to Plaquemine, Louisiana, to visit my great-aunt and uncle. Or ‘Aunt June and Uncle Junior’, as our party referred to them.

(How a man could be an ‘uncle’ and a ‘junior’ at the same time was beyond my limited capacity at the time. I suspect it was just a nickname, of course. On the other hand, much of my family has only relatively recently crawled out from the woods and ‘hollers’ of some rather scary territory, so it’s entirely possible that he was simultaneously someone’s son and uncle. Sometimes I wonder whether it’s just that sort of family.)

All right, enough of that. My aunt and uncle were nice people. I’ll save the muckraking for folks who are more deserving. So, anyway, we packed two or three cars full of crap and my parents and I, along with my grandparents (mother’s side) and an aunt and cousin (ditto), drove down to the bayou for a little Cajun adventure.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember too many details from the week. I think I had a lot of fun; it’s just that with all of the other memories around it that I’m likely repressing, that week may have gotten accidentally lumped in and locked away in the vault, too. A victim of indiscriminate mental editing, if you will.

The one thing I do remember, though, is the eight or ten or so of us paddling out into the croc-infested delta river in these army-green, half-assed aluminum rowboats. Or maybe it was gator-infested. I really can’t remember. I just know that I wouldn’t so much as dip a pinky toe into the drink for fear of pulling back a bloody, ragged stub. So we were all a little on edge throughout our little swamp-fari.

But we perservered, and finally made it to a good ‘catfish-huntin’ spot’. Which is where the dangling commenced, and from what I’ve just told you, you can be damned sure that the dangling didn’t involve any part of my tender young body. So if you got this far thinking that we’re taking little Willie for a dip in the pool, you’re going to be disappointed. Sadly.

Rather, the dangling in question was done by the fishing poles that we’d brought along for the occasion. And the reason I call it ‘dangling’ rather than ‘angling’ is that there wasn’t a hell of a lot of technique being displayed by our band of fisherfolk that day. Which was okay, as it turned out, because the fish just leapt onto our hooks. I don’t know whether these were domesticated catfish, or they weren’t used to humans, or maybe there were alligators on the bottom threatening to eat them if they didn’t jump into our boats. I honestly don’t know.

What I do know is that a slightly impatient and fidgety eight-year-old-or-so kid was able to yank in more than one Fish of Considerable Size™. If you could physically hold your damned pole still for thirty seconds — that’s fishing pole, friends, fishing — then you’d get a nibble. You wouldn’t always hook the sucker, but you’d get action almost as soon as the hook hit the water. And we weren’t using any high-tech, fancy-ass equipment, either. None of that. No sonar, or radar, or gadgetry of any kind. The rods were from K-Mart, I suspect, and the bait was dough balls and bits of cheese. And still, the fish came. And came, and came, and came.

It’s what fishing should be like, if you ask me. No long waits for a bite. No tossing fish back in, because they’re no good to eat. Oh, we threw a few small ones back, but many of the fish snagged that day were sixteen inches or longer. Plenty big to add to the catch for future tasty frying. Oh, and if you’re a small child — or, I suspect, a pretty girl — there’s even someone to slip the fish off your hook for you. Which was quite nice, I have to say. My grandfather took on that particular role, and earned more than one *slice* of his thumbs for the trouble. I love ya, Grandpa, but better you than me, at least at that point.

So that’s pretty much my story, or as much as I can remember. I do have vague recollections of eating those catfish — for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — over the next couple of days, and taking quite a bit of fish back home with us. Tasty little buggers, those catfish. And I suppose I’ve never really enjoyed fishing as much as I did that day, with everyone having fun, and in a new and exciting place, with danger potentially lurking behind every rock and at the end of each hook. Very exciting, I can tell you. Boy, if only I’d have been old enough to drink beer at the time, then it would have been the perfect fishing trip!

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