Fishin’ For Chubs
He jerked back on the pole with all the strength he had. The fish came up out of the water, sailed twenty feet above his head and landed on the bank with a thud. Fishin’ for Chubs. Another memory that found its way out of the deep dark crevices of my childhood memory banks. My mom had two sisters who lived in California during the World War II years, and they and their families would come back to their hometown of Grace, Idaho, during the summers to visit my grandparents. One of our activities during their summer visits was to go fishin’ for Chubs.
Remember Chubs; those silver colored fish about eight to ten inches long? Even though they are a non-game fish, I don’t know of a species that will give a kid more delight than Chubs; simply because they are so easy to catch. It’s practically impossible to not catch ‘em. It seems they’ll snap at anything that passes by them, even a bare hook. If you find a spot where they are readily abundant, you’re guaranteed you’ll go home with a creel full of fish. I remember one pool where all we had to do was throw our hook into the water and we’d catch a fish. In fact, one of my cousins actually snagged one in the back.
And of course, following all that fun, we must take ‘em home. After all, we caught ‘em, so Mom is obligated to cook ‘em, right? And the family is expected to eat and enjoy ‘em in spite of the bones–of which there are many, right? I haven’t eaten Chubs since I was a kid, because I never raised any boys; and regrettably for my girls, and for me, I never got around to taking them Chub fishing. Actually, as I remember, Chubs weren’t all that bad eating, either. The meat was white and the flavor was quite mild.
Dad would load us cousins, along with all our fishin’ gear, in the back of his 1941 black Ford pickup and we’d head out for the Blackfoot River north of Soda Springs; a stunt for which he would likely be arrested today because of the highly regulated and politically correct world in which we now live. According to today’s standards, hauling kids in the back of an open pickup is unconscionable. Why…it’s a wonder we ever lived to see adulthood, some today, would say.
The Blackfoot River was rife with Chubs in those days, but there was one particular spot Dad knew about that was especially plentiful with these little fishes. There was a patch of willows near-by from which he would cut some good specimens, and fix us all up with a willow fishin’ pole. One of the cousins was somewhat younger than the rest of us, and was not quite up to our skill level of fishing. But in spite of this, he did okay. I remember one trip in particular. This cousin was having the time of his life. He had a pole that was somewhat long for his stature which gave him plenty of leverage. He’d hook those little silver buggers, yank back on that pole, bring them out of the water where they would sail over his head to an altitude of about twenty-five feet, and land onto the bank behind him with a thud. If there are any members of PETA reading this blog post, don’t despair. The fish this youngster caught didn’t suffer. The thump from when they hit the ground killed ‘em.
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, too, weren’t all that bad eating.
Ah, but alas, the carefree days of youth ultimately pass into the night. It was fun while it lasted, though.