You know, I can still remember the very first fish I caught. I was three, and we had gone camping with my Grandma and Grandpa up at Toledo Bend Reservoir. My parents, my older brother and I-- the younger ones not having been born yet.
Anyway, we were camping and fishing up at the lake, and my Grandpa and Grandma had taken my brother Russell and I out on the boat with them. I'm not sure what we were fishing for, but we were using minnows for bait. Grandpa put the minnow on my hook, and told me to put it into the water and let it grow up.
Well, I kept pulling it out to see if it was grown yet, until Grandma told me to leave it in the water, because it'll take a long time for it to grow up. I put it back into the water and stared at the line for what seemed like forever. Finally, Grandpa turned around and said, "Becky, your fish is grown up now. You can reel it in."
So, I reeled it in and lo and behold that fish was big! I was amazed that it had grown like that, and my first thought was to put it back into the water to see if it would get even bigger, but Grandma told me that it was as big as it was going to get. Hey, I was only three. It made sense to me at the time.
We fished on, but I don't remember any details after the excitement of that very first catch. A few weeks later, my Grandma had a massive stroke that left her partially paralyzed and unable to speak clearly. This is the only memory I have of her before that stroke, so it is extra special to me.
My dad and my grandpa were both avid fishermen, and usually took Russell and me with them. About a year later, we were fishing down along the seawall. I don't remember if it was at Sabine Pass, Sea Rim, or Rollover Pass, but that's not important anyway.
My dad had bought Russell and me these little green rod and reel combos. The rods were the kind that were in two pieces, for easier storage. That day, I was 4-ish and was doing more playing than fishing. I decided to fish for a minute, so I ran over and grabbed up my rod and cast it. To my horror, the top half of my rod came off and flew out into the water!
I stood there with my mouth open, trying to figure out how I was going to fish with that short, stubby rod. Off to my left, I could hear my Grandpa laughing at me- which kind of hurt my feelings just a little. But my dad calmly walked over and took my rod from my hands. He reeled it in, and there was the top half of my rod, caught on the hook. He put my rod back together, a little more firmly this time, and gave it back to me. I was so relieved. I'm not sure if I caught anything other than the top of my rod that day, but that wasn't the point. I was fishing. And I was loving it.
Fishing has always been a part of my life. Across the street from my house was a narrow, muddy waterway that went solely by the name of The Gully.
That's my childhood home, third from the right on the South side of the street.
Many happy childhood hours were spent fishing in The Gully. Mostly catfish and perch, but a few gar and grinnel, too. I used to catch minnows with an old butter tub. Seriously. I'd crouch by the edge of the water for hours, and when I saw a good minnow, I'd scoop it up with that butter tub. I was pretty good at it, too. One year, I started putting them in my sister's little swimming pool. My mother wouldn't let me have an aquarium, so I had to make do. My sister wasn't too happy about it, but in the pool the minnows stayed.
As I got older, my aunt and uncle would sometimes take me with them when when they went camping up at Toledo Bend or Lake Sam Rayburn. Behold a very much younger me with one of the fish I caught.
Or my uncle would take me out on day trips out on the bayous and such. Even when we weren't going anywhere, I would fish in his pond out in the cow pasture. There were some nice size fish in that pond, let me tell you. Bass, bream, gar...sometimes I stay so late that I had to make my way back home in the dark. One time, James had to come find me with a lantern, because I'd stayed out fishing for so long.
All that changed when I went to Navy boot camp. I gave all my fishing gear to my cousin John, and left Southeast Texas for my adventures in the wide world.
In the intervening 20 something years, I've often talked about taking up fishing again, but it was seldom more than a passing fancy. But in all that time, the hunger never left me, and a week or two ago, I decided it was time.
It was time to start fishing again.
I got my license, and bought a rod and reel. Not as fancy as the ones I'd had before, but it's purple.
Yes, it's purple. It's purple, y'all!
I bought some extra line, hooks, weights, and stuff.
And a nifty little tackle box to keep it all in.
I don't know what you're going to do this weekend, but as for me,
I'm going fishing.