Sounds a Bit Fishy to Me: Let’s Take Turns

Sounds a Bit Fishy to Me: Let’s Take Turns

 “You Go First!” – John

James R. Aist

My good friend, John, introduced me to stream fishing when we were both students at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, in the mid-1960s. Stream fishing is where you walk and wade yourself up a stream and fish the relatively still and deep pools as you get to them, hoping to find an unsuspecting bass lurking within, just waiting for his next meal to appear. The best lure for this kind of fishing was a plastic worm with hooks attached by hand, as John had taught me. After I had tried stream fishing by myself, with just enough success to get “hooked” on it, John invited me to drive up into the Ouachita Mountains with him to try our luck up there. That sounded to me like a fun adventure, so one bright, sunny day we headed for the mountains.

John drove us up to one of his favorite mountain streams, and we soon discovered that this stream was nearly dried up. It was running underground between the “fishing pools”, coursing through the creek stones (gravel) from one pool to the next. John assured me that this wouldn’t be a problem, as we could just walk on the dry creek bed from pool to pool. And so we did.

When we arrived at the first pool, it was obvious that it was too small and narrow to be fished by two fishermen at the same time, so John came up with a brilliant idea. “I know”, he said, “Let’s take turns, and whoever catches the biggest fish for the day gets a “large coke”, compliments of the loser.” That sounded fair enough to me, so I agreed. After quickly surmising that the only suitable spot to land a plastic worm was right under an overhanging branch at the end of the pool, and assuming that it would be impossible to do so without getting the worm caught on the branch, John, with a sly grin on his face and confident that there was no way this pool was going to produce a catch for either of us, said, “You go first!” Realizing I had been outsmarted, I had no choice but to go ahead and give it a try.

So, stepping forward and taking careful aim, I anxiously cast the worm toward the calm, open water, just under the overhanging limb, at the far end of the pool, thinking “There’s got to be a good one lurking under there in the shade, and I can catch him if I don’t get my line tangled up on the limb.” The worm sailed swiftly through the clear mountain air and was heading straight for the intended landing site, when – alas and alack – it just barely flew over the limb, hung up there, and left my worm dangling helplessly about a foot above the water. Needless to say, John and I had different reactions to this development. John was elated that he had talked me into going first and was trying to suppress his laughter, while I was clearly bemoaning the fact that I had just barely missed my opportunity to catch the first fish, against all odds as it were.

So, admitting defeat on this first pool, I began to try and free the worm from the branch by making quick, small jerks on the fishing rod to get the worm to hit the branch on its way up and clear the limb without getting hooked on it. This maneuver caused the wiggling worm to dance up and down vigorously, with its tail splashing in the water on each downward motion. Well, as it turned out, there was a good-sized bass waiting under the branch, and this splashing action of the worm was more than he could resist. Just when I had raised the worm up about a foot above the surface of the water to make another quick jerk on the fishing rod to free it, the bass suddenly jumped straight up out of the water, grabbed the worm in its mouth, and fell back into the water, freeing the worm from the limb in the process! Really.

Now, I was as surprised as John was, and it was all I could do to keep my composure. But, in order to maximize the impression I wanted to make on him, I had to pretend that this remarkable turn of events was just commonplace for me and had nothing to do with dumb luck (i.e., “I meant to do that”). So, I just matter-of-factly reeled in my trophy and proudly held it aloft in John’s face as if to say, “Who’s laughing now, John?”

Well, we remained friends and fished on from pool to pool for a couple more hours that afternoon, and we both caught fish on the way. At the end of the day, I owed John a large coke for the biggest fish (He was, after all, the better fisherman), but I took solace in the fact that I had caught the first fish, against all odds. So, as it turned out, we both had “bragging rights” at the end of this fun-filled fishing foray into the Ouachita Mountains. And John enjoyed his large coke.

(To enjoy more of my TRUE TALES, click HERE)

Vermont and Back

Vermont and Back

By Angie Brown, Guest Author

One of the places I wanted most to visit some day was the State of Vermont. The opportunity came when my daughter, Janet, and her family moved there. I traveled with her to Bennington to spend a few days. My daughter’s home was near a ski area in the mountains. From there we drove to a high peak, and there we were shown a breathtaking panoramic view which included three contiguous states.

Vermont is pleasing to the eye with its neatness. Streams and numerous small waterfalls flow over a base of white rock wherever you look. White homes and churches nestled in the green-clad mountains present a serene beauty. Life appeared to be slower there, a pace not driven by the fast mania of many other places. In the autumn, the tree colors are vivid, but different from our own in western New York State. The tourists who travel to observe this beauty are called “leaf peekers.” Any people who have retired to Vermont have found successful small businesses there, after wondering how they would stay occupied.

Janet took me to various parts of the state. Vermont is famous for its large homes, some built when the country was first being settled. They were amazingly well kept and in good repair. We saw large farms, endless green fields, and hills with cattle grazing. Some of the larger homes seemed like two homes built together, or a house with a large barn attached. I understand that this was done because of the severe winter weather. In this way, they could go through from one building into the other to stay more comfortable without going outside.

In Manchester, we stopped at a shop that carried only dolls and doll houses of every kind imaginable. Then we drove across an odd-appearing country bridge with artfully designed rails, to the community library. There a small corner nook caught my eye. It contained a large window with a view overlooking a small waterfall and comfortable chairs to sit in and read while listening to the cheerful sounds of the babbling brook. Next was a stop at a clock store. Upon entering, we were bombarded with the ticking of clocks that lined the walls of the store. What an amazing scene – so interesting. The attendant told us that every morning he went through the store winding each one, an all-morning duty.

All too soon the visit came to an end. Janet drove me to the bus terminal where I boarded the bus for home. After a 10-hour trip, I was still exhilarated, but so glad to set my luggage down inside the front door of my own home.

(For more short stories by ANGIE, click HERE)