Sunday, February 20, 2011

Think Summer! A Story ~ On Fishing and Eating Fish

By Rich Smith

I finally got around to reading “How To Avoid Catching Fish” by Charlie Lasiter. Until recently, it remained buried underneath my other bathroom reading material, including Wayne Allred’s “Disgusted Drivers Handbook” and his infamous “Outhouse” book.

Actually, I don’t need a book telling me how to avoid catching fish. I consider myself expert on the subject. Charlie Lasiter must be an undiscovered twin brother, for I related to his warped logic and weird sense of humor.

As some of you know, I enjoy fishing but am not fond of eating fish. Raised in the San Francisco Bay area by a Catholic mother, who served overcooked filet of sole every Friday, I grew up with a justified hatred of fish for dinner. As a teen I prayed for a moratorium from the Vatican on meatless Fridays, but this penitential rite lasted well into my adulthood. I once considered joining the Baptists to avoid meatless Fridays. Occasionally, and this was rare, after work some Fridays my Father would stop by the fish market and bring home crab or prawns or a freshly caught slab of salmon, and the frozen sole went back into the freezer.
As an adult, I am more broad-minded about eating fish. I tolerate crab, prawns, salmon and trout, yet there are limits. Filet of sole remains off my menu, no matter how well cooked or covered with sauce. After watching a “Hooked” National Geographic episode, in which a smelly Tilapia hauled out of Thailand’s stagnant waters became that night’s dinner, I’m no longer sure that species belongs on my dinner plate.

Some wags claim fishing is a sport, but I fail to see the sport in it. Considering their small brain cavity and unpredictable appetite for worms and grubs, fish are at a distinct disadvantage. If fishing is a skill, then anyone over the age of 5 who can skewer a worm on a hook and sit back in a comfortable chair until a tug on the line wakes them from slumber, is an expert.
Since I don’t like eating what I catch, my strategy is to avoid catching a fish in the first place, and this is where Mr. Allred’s rules come in handy. Through trial and error, I have discovered that using bait unlikely to tempt any fish, making pathetic casts to empty pools, or using a dull, rusty hook works to my advantage. Another tactic is to spend most of the time replacing lost hooks and sinkers, unraveling bird-nested spools, or disentangling my line from that of another angler.

Despite my ineptitude, occasionally a brain-challenged fish will grab my bait. I gently remove the hook embedded in its greedy mouth and practice the rule of “catch and release”. If a fish does not survive my surgery and revival efforts, I pawn it off on someone who enjoys eating fish.
Such generosity is normally a good solution, but only if the recipient does not insist on a gutted and cleaned donation. Next to eating fish, my greatest loathing is cleaning them. All that blood and guts with a pathetic big eye staring at me is a total turn off, not to mention the smell that clings to one's hands for hours after scraping guts and eviscerating other organs and finally beheading the unfortunate victim.

So, why then do I go fishing? Well, there is the beautiful lake or stream, the wildlife, the occasional good companionship of a partner willing to spin lies in a one-upsmanship contest, and most of all the cigars and beer. Oh, did I forget to mention the poor-boy sandwiches and Hostess ding-dongs? And then there is the beer. ..oh, I already mentioned beer. Well, anyway this is what makes fishing a worthwhile venture. .

After a day on the lake or stream, my catch and release tactics ,or gifting, means I will return home empty-handed, with beer breath and faintly smelling of cigar smoke. With nothing to show for my efforts, apparently it’s too much to expect a welcome kiss from a wife unimpressed by the empty creel and beer cooler.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Rich, for a great story & my laugh of the day!