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Shannon Bardwell: Fishing on the edge of fall

 

Shannon Bardwell

 

Temperatures cooled down, so after chores Sam and I went fishing in the Prairie pond. I don''t think we had been fishing since spring.  

 

Fishing in 100-degree temperatures was not inviting at any hour. Our free time was spent trying to keep the garden and the grass going. After that, we collapsed in front of the AC. It was too hot to sit on the porch, even with ceiling fans. It was too hot to breathe. 

 

Once, we went to the river. When the boat stopped I thought I was going to die. The boat at full throttle wasn''t much better. Finally we got wet and went fast. It was tolerable.  

 

But nowadays, standing still, you can feel the edge of fall. I always look forward to fall and good hair days. Oh yes, and football. 

 

When we start fishing I have to get the hang of it all over again. One rod had my favorite purple and yellow glitter lizard; the other had a silver fish that looks like a large minnow, called a Slugo. Sam said the Slugo was best for fall. I started casting. 

 

At first I caught nothing; then I got a backlash. It''s OK. I''ve learned how to get them out. I used to have to ask Sam to help me untangle my line, or get me unhooked or take the hook out of the fish. I don''t have to do that anymore, so I''ve learned something.  

 

Sam was catching hand-sized bass and tossing them on the dam. He says there are too many and they will starve the big bass. I''m wondering why he''s catching fish and I''m catching nothing, and we are using the same bait. I observe him closer. 

 

I remember he said, "You can''t fish a worm too slow." Then he says, "Keep your bait just under the surface." I watch how he reels slow and pops the rod a little making the minnow dance. I imitate him ... reel slow ... pop ...  

 

pop ... 

 

Then I feel the tug, and I yank hard. "Set the hook," he hollers. He always knows I have a strike a split second before I do. My fish was pulling, and I started to back up the bank when I heard, "Don''t you do it. Don''t you do it. Don''t you back up like a beginner. Hold him." 

 

I froze and held tight; drawing the fish to me. When he got close, I yanked hard and flipped him on the bank. He was only a hand-sized bass, but he gave a nice little fight. 

 

"Do I grab the top lip or the bottom?"  

 

"Bottom," Sam says. Another thing I forgot in the interim.  

 

While fishing, I watched the water, smooth and still as glass, the birds overhead and the trees; the sunset left its Midas touch on the leaves, the edge of fall.

 

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

 

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