Friday, March 23, 2007

I Fish, Therefore I Lie!

It's raining. It's pouring. I don't hear anyone snoring... I'm waiting for the ark to come floating past, though. We've had nothing but rain and snow since November and the place is soaking wet. I know some folks are dealing with drought, and trust me, if I thought I could send you a gallon of rain I would. Or a barrel. A rain barrel full of rain. Except that they've made it illegal to collect rain here in Washington without a permit. Why, I don't know. It's not like we've got a shortage of the stuff!

Not that the rain doesn't play a role in our growing seasons. A couple of years ago we had very little spring rain, so our intuitive governor declared a state of emergency. She also said that farmers shouldn't water their crops. I suppose it's because someone else needed the water more than we needed food.

Like the cemeteries. As you know, I'm rather drawn to cemeteries, and one of the things I noticed during our drought was that there were an awful lot of sprinklers keeping lawns green while our farmers weren't growing food for us to eat. Many of those sprinklers were in cemeteries, and they splashed a good amount of water all over the paved roads. Now, I'm no expert, but it really didn't seem right that the farmer's were needing to ration their water while dead people were allowed to have beautiful lawns.

Dead People's lawns can be watered, but we cannot water crops or collect rain water without a permit.

Then again, politicians tend to favor those who vote for them, and since our governor had a large contingency of dead folks vote for her, I suppose she was just doing what she felt was right. But enough talk of dead people and droughts. It's raining now, and the ground is so wet I can't plant my peas, which should have been in last month.

I wouldn't mind the rain so much if it were fishing season. Everyone knows that fishing is good after a rain. I come from a long line of fishermen. Well, at least the previous generation fished. A little. There's this kid's fishing derby held here each spring, and my Uncle Warthog and Dad were there at the first one ever held. Uncle Warthog paddled around the pond in his little row boat. He was the first kid to catch his limit, and he still has the bamboo fishing pole he won that year.
Sunset down at the bay where Dad and Uncle Warthog used to fish.

My dad and his brother the warthog were great fishermen. They'd go down to the docks at the bay and fish during their lunch breaks 'back in the day', eating their sandwiches and tossing their hooks out into the water. Dog fish were what they were after. A bucket of white paint sat on the dock with them. They were the sons of a painter; painting was their summer job. When they caught a dog fish, they'd pull it up and slap a white stripe down it's back, then set it free. And that's how there came to be skunkfish in the bay.

I've never fished for skunkfish or dogfish. I do recall a fishing trip with my dad and Little Hitler (my bossy little sister) when we were young. He brought us, along with the neighbor girl and her dad, down to the falls to fish. We climbed down the steep hill and over slippery rocks. Little Hitler and her friend stayed down on a small rock while Dad pulled me up onto the big rock that was right beneath the falls. That's where the fishing was best, he said.

Do you see the rock? Neither can I.
But I swear it's there, under all that water.

Now, this particular creek was for kids 14 and under only, so no adults were allowed to fish. Which is why there were grown ups all over town grabbing the neighbor's kids and dragging them out on fishing trips. None of them, however, was as brave as my father. We were the only ones who dared to go right under the waterfall. The others were up above us, or down below. Kids and their adult partners, all with their poles in hand and hooks in the water.

Another view of the falls.
Naturally, there was less water when we were fishing that day.

My dad had me by the waist as I tossed my line down behind the rock we were on. We were being sprayed with water from the falls, but that was okay. The dad of Little Hitler's friend stayed down on the low rock with them, where they were catching bull heads and crawdads, getting an occasional trout in the process. I, on the other hand, stood cold and wet and fishless on the rock with my father telling me to just be patient.

And then it happened...a strike! And a bite! It was huge; I'd never felt a pull like that on my rod before. Dad helped me set the hook and I began fighting to pull that fish up out of the water. There's about a ten foot drop behind that rock, and of course standing on top of it you can't see what you're pulling up. It was so heavy that I thought perhaps it was just a log or something, but Dad insisted it was a fish.

Soon a small crowd gathered above us, looking over the falls. People were lining the bridge. I had a huge fan club! Wow...too cool. I was ready to sign autographs. The neighbor dad left the smaller girls down on their little rock to come and look. A teen aged boy got brave enough to jump over the big rocks to stand alongside of us. He layed down on his belly and reached over the edge of the rock.

The bridge that crosses the creek; the falls are there to the left.

I heard shouts and gasps coming from the people around me. It was a big one! But I couldn't see it. I could only hold onto that reel with my cold little fingers and try to pull him in. Then the line lightened. "I got him!" shouted the boy. Another cheer!

My eight year old mind raced. What did he think he was doing? That was my fish he'd got! And I gave a huge yank on my pole, lifting the fish off his fingertips...and of course once it was off the fingertips it fell back down to the end of my fishing line...which snapped...and my fish was gone.

The cheering turned to groans. Heads were shaking as people walked away, disappointed. The teenager, who'd only been trying to help, was still cheerful, saying he'd never seen a fish that big come out of the creek, must have been three, four pounds! Friend's dad had gotten a peek at it, saying it was at least 18 inches, if not more.

Walking back to the car, Little Hitler wrinkled her nose at me, stating that she'd caught trout for dinner, but I hadn't. I sneered back. "You may have caught trout, but we'll eat it and they'll be gone. My fish story will live on forever!"

And so far, it has!


Beemoosie said...

Great story! Really...Uncle Warthog?

Marion said...

I love the name Little Hitler for your youngest sister. It really describes my youngest sister, too!

I have enjoyed this blog since I found you on Blog tell great stories!

PEA said...

Yup, that's a fish story if I've ever heard one!! hehe Oh Tracey, I so enjoy your writing, your stories make me laugh and keep me enthralled:-) I am the only girl with 4 brothers and yet it was only me that would get up early with dad to go fishing when we were camping...those are some of my fondest memories of my dad:-) xox

Leann said...

I love your storys.put them in a book.they would bless children.those pictures are awesome.lovely places.have a great weekend,God bless.

Connie Peterson said...

Are you sure it wasn't 10 pounds?

Lovely story ... thank you for sharing (or lying, whatever the case may be!!) .......

Tracey said...

It may have been ten pounds, Connie. It very likely was. And I'm sure it was more than 18 inches, come to think of it. Yes, I think Friend's Dad said it was more like 28, or even 38!

Marion, so happy you've joined me in my insanity here! The more insanity, the better.

Moosie, I suppose someday I'll need to explain the whole warthog thing, eh?

Tammy said...

I loved your trout story! And what a beautiful place to go fishin!!
Had a chuckle at the dead voters!

Karen said...

Way cool bridge! I love the pictures!

Jean said...

Great story and pictures. You sure know how to tell a story! Thanks!

Betzie said...

Hi Tracey!
Wow, what a moment that was with your dad and your 3 foot fish, or was it 4 foot?? :)
Great story and it made me laugh about your sweet little sis too!

Tracey said...

It could have been four foot, surely could have been. I didn't see it, you know, so had to rely on eye witnesses. But with all that water splashing around, they likely didn't get a good look. I'm certain you're right, though...probably five feet.

But...sweet little sis? Um, no. Little Hitler. And not sweet. Not in the least! =)

Sandy said...

You are quite a good story teller and I could see every thing very clear in my mind. Loved the pictures too. The waterfalls are great. I've read several of your posts and you should publish your stories in a book. You are one of the most interesting writers I've come across in a long time.

Your descriptions of your family are hilarious...especially the names you give them and I agree that many dead people do get to vote. I can't believe that you have to get a permit to collect rainwater.

It looks like you guys are drowning over much rain. No wonder your state is so green and lush.