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Old School Fishing Trips

by: Lloyd Tackitt 11/9/2012

Life changes and we look back and think how much better it was way back then.  Whether it's true or not doesn't matter, our memories are golden hued.  I grew up fishing with old school fishermen (this includes both genders) that fished entirely differently.  Not just the mechanics of how they fished but their attitudes and reasons were different.

Hardworking men and women.  Subsistence farmers and ranchers.  Down to earth, slow moving and slow talking and sometimes slow thinking.  They were sunburned from their hat band down to their collar, and snow white above and below.  Hands that were gnarled and calloused but still adept at detail work.  Overalls and boots and straw hats.  The ladies wore loose print full length dresses and bonnets.

Fishing was both a relaxation and a source of food.  Fishing trips tended to be day long affairs, generally on a Saturday.  It was a day off from work.  These people worked hard, very hard.  They worked from well before sunup to well after sundown.  They slept in unheated/uncooled bedrooms with board floors and tall beds and chamber pots.  Alarm clocks weren't necessary, they knew when to wake up.  Roosters helped some.

Cane poles and minnows.  Picnic lunches that included cool tea in mason jars, buttermilk and sweet potato pie, cold biscuit/cured ham sandwiches.  Slow quiet conversation and long comfortable silences.  Stories told and news shared.  Gossip and giggles.   Naps in the shade during the heat of the day.  Fish on a stringer or in a mesh basket.  A slow pace to everything, including the drive to and from, which never exceeded 30mph on the paved roads.  Pickups with knuckle buster knobs on the steering wheel, the bed half full of loose straw and twisted up pieces of baling wire.  Kids always rode in the back.

Come home and everyone joined in cleaning the fish.  No fillets mind you, catfish were skinned and everything else was scaled.  Heads cut off and guts removed, top fin cut out also.  Fish were rolled in cornmeal and fried in lard.  The tail fin would be as crispy as a potato chip, everyone's favorite part.  Always fresh fish for dinner that night.  The rest frozen, but never as good as the fresh fish.  Fried potatos and corn and a loaf of bread with the iced tea.  Dinner over and the men went outside to smoke while the ladies cleaned up.  Maybe an hour of television, Sing Along with Mitch, Father Knows Best. 

Then off to bed.  Deep under layers of home made quilts in the winter, on top of the sun dried and fresh smelling sheets in the summer.  Listening to the distant coyotes singing and the dogs sometimes moving around under the house.  Deep relaxed sleep, earned sleep.  Untroubled sleep of the just and innocent.  Rooster crowing and rubbing the sleep out of eyes then to the kitchen for a big breakfast.

Fishing isn't what it was, never can be again I guess.  Back then it didn't seem that we were doing anything extraordinary, we were just fishing.  Now what I wouldn't give to relive one of those days, knowing what I do now.  Was it really as good as I remember?

It was better, and gets better every year.

Blog content © Lloyd Tackitt
Member comments
Flyrodn, CO   11/9/2012 4:47:29 PM
Funny how memory always improves with age, rather like a good whiskey. Times will never be the same, but they ain't all bad now either.
IceFishingFool, CO   11/9/2012 11:04:33 PM
Oh yeah Lloyd, those were the days, first one up started the fire in the wood/coal cook stove, broke the layer of ice in the water pail to get a quick drink and laddle water into the hand pump to get it primed, then more water, for the coffee pot. Yup those were the days.
JKaboom, CO   11/11/2012 1:08:54 AM
Great imagery as always :)
skiman, CO   11/13/2012 10:00:25 AM
Lloyd... You di it again! We lived in a small company-owned cottage on a Tobacco Farm in Northern Connecticut. We had a coal furnace, and an old wood stove that mom would cook our meals on. What I remember most is the "bullhead board" on the tree in our yard. It was a rough-cut 2" X 6"X24" slab of oak. We would catch a mess of bullheads from a near-by pond, and when it came time to clean them, dad would take a ten-penny nail and pound it through just the right spot on the fish's head, take a pair of pliers, and skin that rascal. The rest was like you said...bacon grease or lard, corn meal and fried taters in a cast-iron skillet. Thanks again for another trip down memory lane! Good Fishing! Ski
Lloyd Tackitt
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