Retirement Hobbies: A Fishing Memory
by Jane Curtis aka Texasjane
MY LAST FISHING TRIP
Ray and I had been married for about three years. Every Friday evening when he closed his clinic in North Dallas he would say, "I forgot the "Gone Fishin" sign." I was ready for him. I had created one and surprised him with it.
"You have been promising to take me fishing for 3 years now. Don't you think it is time you did it." Yes, that is what I said. How did I know that my next fishing trip would be my last?
Ray, grinned from ear to ear and his eyes twinkled. He agreed immediately. "We will go tomorrow. We will put this sign up on the lake house door and go fishing. You are such a clever girl. I gotta get all my gear out."
Our weekends at the lake house were always busy with people dropping by to see the local "preacher". Ray was a psychologist during the week and a preacher on the weekends.
Saturday would be perfect. Now you must understand I had been my father's fishing buddy when I was growing up. That meant being very quiet and making sure to bring the fried chicken. Daddy would always fall asleep while holding the pole. Mom and I would just sit quietly and eat the fried chicken and know in our hearts how much Daddy was enjoying this fishing trip.
"I need to stop at the store and pick up some chicken for tomorrow." I said. I thought I would fry the chicken and store it in plastic that evening.
"We are going to eat fish tomorrow. Love, why do you take chicken on a fishing trip?" He said, with a peck on my cheek. I knew somehow our Gone Fishing Sign was a sign of surprises to come. We might need to pick up some corn meal. I knew about rolling fish in corn meal so that made sense. Grandmother had a boy friend who was always bring her fish after one of his trips. She had taught me about how to cook it.
"Ray, you are going to clean the fish... right?" Then I heard the magic words, "Yes, Dear." I smiled to myself. I knew everything was going to be just fine.
Did I mention that one of my hobbies had been raising tropical fish? We had a 200 gallon aquarium in the lake house office waiting room. When Ray counseled on the weekend his patrons would wait there. It was a freshwater aquarium. We had several more smaller ones scattered throughout the house. Now once you have raised fish, going fishing takes on a whole new light.
I did not think about that when I agreed to all this. I was prepared for eating chicken while he fell asleep holding the pole. How did I know that this man, whom I loved dearly, wanted to catch fish. We had everything loaded and stopped to get the bait. The bait turned out to be small fish he called minnows (I thought you used bits of chicken or worms)and he was going to put them on the hook to catch the bigger fish. It was clear I knew nothing about fishing.
We found a wonderful spot. An inlet with big rocks to sit on while we fished off the bank of the lake. I watched my dear sweet husband. The tender, soft spoken preacher I had learned to love, honor, and obey (when I could not talk him out of any other way); take a hook and put a minnow on it and throw it into the lake. I was horrified. That poor minnow. I could not do that. I told him I would bait my own hook. I then put the hook through the gill of the minnow so he could still swim and it would not hurt him. I gently tossed the line into the water. Low and behold I caught a fish almost immediately. I felt the tug on the line. Ray was very excited for me.
I dreaded the idea of pulling in the line. I did it anyway. There was a tiny, 2 inch, cat fish on the end of the line with the minnow stuck in its mouth. It was way too small to eat. I asked if I could not just leave him on the line and use him for bait? Ray thought I was so smart. I tossed the line back out with minnow and catfish attached. I suddenly caught another fish. A baby bass about 3 inches, was on the end of the line.
Thank goodness Ray was busy casting and not paying any attention to me. I did not say a word. I pulled in the line and carefully took the baby catfish out of the mouth of the baby bass and discovered the minnow was still alive. I unhooked him and let him go in the lake. I figured he had worked hard enough.
We had a small bucket that I filled partly with lake water. I put my two babies into the bucket. I realized when I saw the bass try to swim he must have bruised his swim bladder when I brought him in. I decided I would put him in my hospital tank at home until it healed. Then I would release him back in the lake. The little catfish had torn a fin so I would doctor him too. Ray had been doing extremely well catching fish. He put a string through their gills and let it dangle in the lake while he went to bait another hook.
Ray had caught several fish, all very nice size bass. He went to get another minnow and discovered the minnow bucket was empty. He announced we probably had our limit and it was time to head to the house. I picked up the bucket I had hidden behind a rock as the last thing before we got back in the car. "What do you have there?"
"You caught your fish and I caught mine. You just wait till you see." Thank goodness he shrugged his shoulders and decided to let me have my way.
When we got home Ray headed to the kitchen to clean his fish and I headed to the hospital tank. Ray was a good cook too. He cleaned and cooked the fish while I made the hush puppies, sliced the lemons, and made the tarter sauce and mashed a few potatoes and threw together a small salad.
We sat and enjoyed our meal and watched the aquarium that now had a baby bass, a baby catfish and six minnows in it. That was my last fishing trip. Ray never took me again. We did raise the fish until the minnows grew into full grown carp and the baby bass grew up to about ten inches (Ray had nick named him eating size) and the catfish had a tank all his own. He developed a fondness for dog food.
About a year later one of Ray's friends asked, "Why don't you and Jane join my wife and I tomorrow. We are going fishing."
Ray, instantly waved his hands, "We just don't have enough room for another aquarium." The look on the man's face brought a grin to Ray's face. He waved the man over and motioned for him to sit down. "Have I got a fish story for you my friend." He then told him his favorite story about going fishing with Jane.