Biography – Lloyd Tackitt
My Grandmother was the world’s greatest fisherman. She knew the secret. Fish talked to her. She caught fish after fish while everyone around her skunked. When I was six she was into her seventies. She was a patient woman to put up with me at that age – I bounced from spot to spot, thought to thought, never staying in one place or on one thought for more than a few seconds. I loved fishing with her, I would roam the area catching insects, inspecting cow patties, fighting Indians and sometimes fishing for a whole minute.
Grandma loved to fish, she went fishing every chance she could. Living way out in the boonies on a ranch - within walking distance of several fishing holes - she had a lot of chances too. Fishing was primarily a relaxation for her, an opportunity to not weed the garden or work over a hot stove canning hard won food from her orchard and garden. It was mostly a late afternoon experience, lasting until dark. Fish went on a stringer and then into the frying pan that night. The idea of catch and release would have tickled her. She would have laughed all the way home and still been grinning while cleaning her fish.
I live on the edge of the Brazos River. I walk out my front door and into the river and - boom I am fishing just like that. The river is fascinating. The mile long stretch I fish is a microcosm of the river, I have it all in that one mile. Trying to figure out where the fish are, what they are doing, why they are doing it, what they are biting, if they are biting - this is what keeps me in the river.
I fly fish almost exclusively. It isn’t that I am a fly fishing snob, it’s that fly fishing works – it’s effective. It has added benefits. I carry all my tackle in a vest, no tackle box needs to be dragged along. The casting itself is fun, even when I don’t catch fish I’ve enjoyed the experience of casting. Fly rods enhance the experience of bringing fish in. Fish fight better and feel better on a fly rod. Fly fishing suits me better than other methods. I will, however, put almost anything on the end of the fly line if I think it will get a bite. I am not a purist by any stretch of the imagination.
I asked Grandma a thousand times what was her secret, what did she know that she could catch more fish than anyone. She always answered the same way. “Pay attention. There’s a hundred things to pay attention to.” Unfortunately those two words – pay attention – were said to me so often by so many that I immediately tuned out whenever I heard them. At six years of age I was highly skilled at tuning out adults. She watched nature, the whole of it, every day. She was almost always outside, in the weather, working at something. She was an untrained but highly skilled naturalist.
She said that you could tell when the fish were biting - by watching. If cows were up and feeding, if squirrels were busy burying nuts, if the wind was out of the west, if the sky was cloudy, if… if you paid attention to a hundred things you would know.
She went blind at the age of 82 and kept fishing. When she was 86 she fell out of the boat, sank to the bottom of the lake, and walked out of the water, laughing. She passed on at 88.
I know she’s found a great fishing hole up there and is catching fish while everyone is getting skunked. I can hear her laughing. When my final day eventually arrives and I shuffle off this old mortal coil – I’ll be smiling all the way because I’m going fishing with Grandma again.
This time I bet I can get her to tell me the secret, the real secret, not that “pay attention” thing.
For humorouse short stories, many about fishing, check out lloydtackitt.com - it's all free, nothing for sale. I hope they make you smile.