A BIT OF NOSTALGIA—Fishin’ For Chubs—A preview of Stories to Come
Today begins the preview series I spoke of in the post that precedes this one; a series of short stories circa the 1940s decade. This is another Buddy story, but this one is told in first person point of view instead of third, because it’s being told by a grown up Buddy. I wanted, also, to test my skill at writing in first person. I’ve always heard that first person narrative is more difficult. So we’ll see how I do. Following is a preliminary unedited preview of things to come.
“FISHIN’ FOR CHUBS”
“You ready, Buddy?” my dad asked.
“Yep, just gotta go get my pole.”
Dad went to the kitchen and asked my mom, “Are our lunches ready, Tillie?”
“All ready,” she said.
I came back into the kitchen, pole in hand. “I’m ready, Daddy,” I said.
“Okay, son, let’s be on our way. We’ll go to Pa Pa Bert’s house and pick up the four boys, and then go get Mont and Lionel and head out for the river.”
Dad and I climbed into his 1941 Black Ford pickup and headed for my grandparents’ house. Four of my cousins from different parts of California were here in Idaho visiting, and Dad promised he’d take us all fishing for chubs today. We lived in a small community in the Southeastern corner of the state known as Grace, Idaho. Twenty-four miles to the north was the Blackfoot River ambling its way to the Snake. Sections of the river had an abundance chubs and these spots were the favorite places for kids to fish. They could be guaranteed that they’d go home with all the fish they could carry. Chubs were non-game fish and there was no limit on how many anyone could take.
If you know nothing about chubs, let me tell you they are dumber than turkeys, and are probably the easiest fish on earth to catch. They will even snap at an empty hook. On more than one occasion I caught one of these mental retards when it swam a bit too close to my hook and snagged itself in the back.
After picking up the California cousins, we swung around and picked up cousin Mont and his brother Lionel. We all wanted to ride in the back of the pickup, and since it was way too crowded for eight of us in the cab, Dad agreed to our plea.
“Okay, boys,” Dad said. “If I let you ride in the back I don’t want any fooling around. I want you to all sit on the floor of the pickup bed up next to the cab, okay? No moving around or standing up, understand?”
“Yes,” we said—all except Jack, that is.
So the seven of us boys piled in the back and we headed for the Blackfoot. Can you imagine Dad getting away with that today in this world of asinine insane political correctness we live in? He’d have been pulled over in a heartbeat, and put away for life on child endangerment charges; especially in light of what happened on the way to the river. Jack, one of the California cousins decided he wanted to see what was going on up ahead of us. He stood up behind the cab looking out over the front of the pickup. Dad spotted him through the back window and immediately stopped the pickup.
“I thought I told you boys to stay seated,” he said. He looked directly at Jack and said to him. “You’d better come and get in the cab with me. You’re the oldest of these boys and should know better. You’re a bad influence on them, and besides that you showed lack of respect for me at disobeying my order.”
He looked at the rest of us. Dad was usually quite cool in nature, but from the look on his face that that day, I immediately knew that this situation had put him out of sorts. “Now, I’m only gonna tell you this once” he said. “One more trick like this last one, and we’ll turn around and head back home, you hear me?”
We all nodded to the affirmative.
“Okay”, he said. He looked straight at Jack “C’mon,” he said. “Up front in the cab with me.”
Although the Blackfoot River was rife with Chubs in those days, there was one particular spot Dad knew about that was especially plentiful with these little fishes. The fishing hole he had picked was more like a pond than a regular fishing hole. The river flow had ebbed to a near standstill. The river bank sloped gently to the water’s edge, and it consisted of a grassy meadow reaching back to the willows that grew along the river bank. Dad checked everybody’s gear. The three boys from California, Jack, John, and David, each had a pole, as well as the two local cousins, Mont and Lionel. The youngest boy, Jimmy, had no pole.
“Geez, Daddy,” I said, “Jimmy doesn’t have a pole. How’s he gonna fish?”
“Don’t worry, Buddy,” Dad said. “I’ll fix him up with a nice willow pole.”
He turned to Jimmy. “C’mon, Jimmy, let’s go see what we can find to make you a pole.”
The two of them walked back to the willows and Dad soon found just the right willow for Jimmy, and outfitted it with line and a hook. It was long, about four times as long as Jimmy was tall, but Dad said it would give the little guy more leverage for landing a fish. We were later to learn the truth of that statement.
Dad walked him down to the water’s edge and proceeded to give Jimmy a few instructions. “Now, son,” he said. “Cast your hook out toward the middle of the pond where you can catch a little of the river current. When you feel a little jerk on your line, give it just a little nudge to set the hook.”
Jimmy was the youngest of the bunch, and was not quite up to our skill level of fishing. On his first few attempts he jerked the hook right out the fishes’ mouths. With a little more coaching from Dad he began to get the hang of setting the hook. It wasn’t long until he was having the time of his life.
“I’ve got one, I’ve got one,” he yelled.
Dad told him to rare back on the pole and gently lift the fish out of the water. Jimmy immediately rared back on the pole with all his might. The pole was somewhat long for his stature, but Dad was right; it gave him plenty of leverage. He yanked back on that pole, brought the fish out of the water sailing over his head to an altitude of about twenty-five feet. It landed on the bank behind him with a thud.
“Holy Cow!,” I said. “No need to worry about that fish suffering any pain. Prob’ly broke every bone in its body when it hit the ground, and the thump from hittin’ the ground prob’ly killed ‘im, too,” I said.
If there are any members of PETA reading this little tale, today, they should take comfort. The fish didn’t suffer.
Dad helped him remove the hook from the fish’s mouth and he baited up and cast in for another round.
“Wow, I got another one,” yelled Jimmy, and this one received the same fate as his first catch, as did all his remaining catches. A flight through the air, a loud thump, and death.
Then we heard John shout, “I got one. too”.
“Me to,” shouted David.
So it went for the rest of the afternoon. Dad had brought along an insulated wood box about the size of a five gallon bucket, and we filled that thing up with fish. After we tired of fishing Dad had us clean the whole batch so Mom wouldn’t be saddled with that chore. Chubs have scales that need to be scraped off in addition to removing their entrails. It was enough that she had to cook the whole mess of fish for us to eat. After all we couldn’t let a catch like that go to waste—now could we.
Although they’re classified as non-game fish, Chubs aren’t all that bad eating. The meat is white, similar to trout, and though not quite as mild as trout, still tolerable. They are very bony, however, so a lot of time was spent picking around the bones. All in all, it was a fun and pleasant day.
End of story.
Another species for which we kids liked to fish, was Perch. Anyone remember those? The little orange colored fish with the razor like dorsal fin. If you didn’t get your hand around this fin just right and hold it down flat against the fish’s back while you removed the hook, you might end up with a nasty gash in your hand. Like Chubs, they were also a non-game fish with no limit on the number a person could take, and they were readily easy to catch as well. They weren’t all that bad eating, either. Took a lot of ’em to make a meal, though.
P.S. If you’re a Western Fan, perhaps you might enjoy another of my novels, LouIsa—Iron Dove of the Frontier. It’s a story about LouIsa Houston-Earp, the wife of Morgan Earp. She was a colorful lady. She entertained the rowdy cowboys in frontier saloons with classical piano music and actually won them over into liking it. She was also a crack shot with her .38 revolver, so you didn’t mess with LouIsa. You can read more about her at amazon.com. The book is available on all five e-reader devices and in print version.
My latest novel, SHADOW REVOLUTION is also available at www.amazon.com in print version and all five e-reader devices. A preview of that novel is provided on he flyer below. You can also obtain a free copy of the preface, prologue, and chapter one, by clicking on the free download button at upper right of this page.