Fishing Partners

My dad started fishing as a young boy partly out of necessity to provide food for the family. These were the Depression years. He loved to tell the story about the time when he was a young boy. He and his friends were fishing Middle Creek west of Lincoln. They spent the entire night fishing without catching a thing except a turtle. Since they were roughing it, the fish they caught would be the food they ate. They skinned and cooked the turtle. Dad told me the turtle tasted good, Yuk! I did try it when a neighbor caught a turtle, skinned it, and cooked it. She offered me a taste of the leg, telling me it tasted just like chicken. I obliged and cannot remember what it tasted like. I do know I had nightmares all night about that turtle limping around on three legs. No more turtle for me!

My mom had never fished in her life when she married my dad. He convinced her to learn to fish. This popular family story was told over and over about Daddy teaching her to cast out. "Bring the rod back over your shoulder, thumb on the spool. Begin your throw, when the rod reaches 10 o'clock, release your thumb and continue the throw. Mom bit her lower lip, checked the bait and the line, placed her thumb on the reel, brought the rod back and began the throw. As the rod reached 12 o'clock high, she released not only her thumb but let go of the entire rod and it sailed into the river. Crying about her mistake, she saw Daddy jump in the river to retrieve the rod. He was laughing so hard, it made Mom cry harder and threaten never to go fishing again, But she did.

Bob started fishing as a young boy. He and his friends would go to the Blue River by the dam. His brother would drive them to the spot and pick them up in the morning. Bob's memory of those times includes the story of the night they were caught in the rain. They had no tent and had to take cover under the trees. There was the possibility that Leonard would not be able to get them the next day as the roads may be impassable. A group of very tired, wet, and hungry young boys greeted him when he arrived. Another time Bob headed down to Salt Creek near where he lived with some bait shrimp. He planned to catch some fish and cook them for his lunch. After hours without a bite, he headed home. Still hungry, he cooked the bait shrimp and ate it.

The Bait

Worms were a popular bait especially night crawlers. Catching the worms was almost as much fun as catching fish. The best time was night. When we lived on South 18th, a good place to go night crawler hunting was down by the Irving swimming pool. How? Night crawlers come out at night. Using a flash light, you could spot them out of their hole and try to grab them, Cheaper than buying the bait. Another popular bait for catfish was chicken livers. Fresh chicken livers come off the hook too easily so they must be treated. We would arrange them on a piece of cardboard and set them out in the sun to "cook". Note, beef liver did not work the same as chicken livers.

Around the Salt Valley lakes in Lincoln and the Blue River, we used chicken liver. The preferred bait by the catfish in Alma was crawdad tails. You had to remove the claws and peal off the shell so only the "meat" portion was available; dead minnows were also good bait.