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)

Smells: Like Windows to a Wonderful World

English: Ocean Isle Beach, North CarolinaSmells:  Like Windows to a Wonderful World

by Angie Brown, Guest Author

We look ahead as we walk forward.  We look to the right and to the left when we cross the street.  We gaze at store windows and shelves to shop for merchandise.  We notice people rushing here and there, always looking.  Whether we’re bathing, playing or working, we use our eyes to recognize familiar things and faces.  Truly, our eyes are very important and necessary to our everyday lives.

But the sense of smell is also important and necessary; it can give us the feeling of both the past and the present. Oceans and sandy beaches, with their fishy smells, bring back memories of visiting Myrtle Beach or North Carolina Beaches with our southern relatives.  My granddaughter once commented, “It’s the smell of the south.” The musty moss and evergreen smells take me back to when, as children, we walked through the woods picking ground pine.  On our way to class, we often noticed the tantalizing smell of fresh bread coming from a nearby bakery.  The smell of chlorine greeted us when entered the YMCA pool area. And every classroom and locker room in school had their own distinctive smell.  You wouldn’t need to see it, because the smell would give it away!

The smells of the present are just as characteristic. A barnyard can be either pleasant or not so pleasant, but, either way, it’s a mighty homey smell to the farmer!  City streets have a different smell.  It’s a combination of several odors all mingled together: car exhaust pipes, trucks loaded with building supplies and dump trucks filled with debris all produce odors that are compounded into one strange mixture. Then there’s the smell of oil or gas as you pass a refinery or fill your car’s gas tank.  Stopping suddenly brings a smell of burning rubber. When lawns are mowed, there’s a sweet smell of clover blossoms and grasses in the air. Tightly closed houses in the winter may develop a stuffy smell, until Fido or your pussycat lingers at the open door before venturing out. After a heavy rain, the outdoors has a damp fungus smell for a day or so, but, eventually, the sunshine dries things out and removes it.

We all have our favorite smells, of course. One of the most pleasant smells I can think of is that of a home-cooked family meal on the stove, when everyone looks forward to dinner at the end of the day. But the best smell — one that can only be described as heavenly — is the soft, cuddly, precious newborn baby smell.

We need smells, along with our seeing eyes, to fully experience and appreciate the wonderful world around us!  What are you smelling right now?

(For more articles by Angie Brown, click HERE)