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Shannon Bardwell: To catch an angler


Shannon Bardwell



Cleaning out some boxes I ran across a yearbook Mississippi College had compiled for incoming freshman. Each student submitted a photograph and a bio. For a hobby I listed "fishing." The only reason I can fathom I would list fishing would be to attract "dates," because I never ever remember fishing. I may have been in a fishing boat a few times but a boat ride would be about as close as I had ever come to fishing. 


Often in marriage compromises are necessary. In one such marital compromise, I agreed to learn to fish with my fisherman husband and perhaps he could learn to like the ballet. 


Sam is a patient teacher and says he doesn''t mind getting my line unhung, even when I got hung up about six times in six minutes. To that he simply said, "It just means you are fishing in the right places." I found it discouraging.  


I watched and listened and tried to emulate his behavior. "You see that? A fish is playing with me. He''s bumping the jig with his lips," he''d say. 


"You cannot possibly know if a fish is bumping your jig with his lips! That is ridiculous; good grief," I snipped. I wasn''t catching anything but twigs. 


He was right; the fish took the bait, Sam set the hook and the fish was now resting comfortably in the cooler along with two dozen or so other crappie. 




Mysteries of the deep 


More often than not, if I did catch a fish, it was because I got exasperated and yanked my jig out of the water only to find a fish on the end. Then Sam would ask, "How''d you get it? What did he do?"  


"I dunno. He was just there." 


"But what did he feel like? Did he hit it hard?" 


Well, jeepers creepers, I not only have to catch the fish but I have to tell the story; he wants a fish tale, for Pete''s sake! There''s gotta be an easier way to get dates. 


I put the pole down, got out my camera and started taking pictures. I took photos of scraggly trees, stumps rotting, and birds in flight, water birds stalking, dragonflies hovering, turtles sunning, logs floating, the sun setting. It was really beautiful. I enjoyed my "thinking time." I pulled out mental folders with all those things I had saved to ponder when I had some quiet pondering time. This was it. Then I turned the camera on myself and started taking pictures. 


Sam looked quizzical, "What are you doing?"  


"I''m taking glamour shots."  




Study course 


Back home, I found some fishing books and started to study. "New Techniques that Catch More Crappie," by Steve L Wunderle. I learned that crappie are more color-conscious than other fish and quickly catch on to a certain color. When they see their friends swallow that suspicious little blue-silver-white thing and suddenly disappear, perhaps they think twice about doing the same. 


I asked Sam if he thought fish believed the "rapture" had occurred since fish were vanishing into thin air. He gave me that quizzical look again and said that he never once thought about it. 


I bought the book, "Fishing for Dummies," but I stopped reading it when I got to the chapter on "dehooking yourself." It said you should practice hook removal on a piece of raw meat so that you learn how to get the barb free of the flesh. That was a real turn-off, and something I preferred not to think about. 


We continued our fishing dates, and one day I started catching fish. Sam asked, "So what happened? What''d he do?"  


"Well, I felt the fish bumping my jig with his lips and then ..." 



Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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Reader Comments

Article Comment Barbara commented at 2/15/2010 10:11:00 AM:

I really like this one, Shannon. This article really made me laugh!


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