About this time of year the mind of a 6-year-old tended to turn to things more involved with outdoors rather than snow and ice. I would start to think about buying my yearly bamboo pole from Williams Hardware and the bobber and hooks from Western Auto and then fishing. From about 6 to 12 fishing was my main stay during the summer months. Did I ever love to fish and get ready to fish! Things were much more relaxed during this period of my life and I was not old enough to require a fishing license so all was well with me.
As the weather would warm up and the sun shown longer each day my desire for fishing grew. I would start out rather early on and work up to the final time when I could actually go fishing. I was pretty well handicapped when I was really young in that I could not go fishing without adult supervision. That just tended to slow me down a tad, but it also tended to wear dad thin with requests to go. Dad was a workaholic and liked fishing, but not when he could work and make money. At this stage of my life I had my allowance, all of 50 cents a week, and that pretty well took care of me. My pole cost a quarter, the hooks a dime and lines a dime. I then would have a nickel left over for bait.
As I grew older Dad did too and actually did eventually take some time off to take me fishing (at times) with other adults. Of course, our two weeks at Lake Douglas Dad and I fished a lot and he also fished a lot with other adults. At Douglas he would go out and troll for the big ones. He would get a good catch of Pike and Muskies and I would do well with blue gills and sun fish. If I managed to snag a crappie I was in hog heaven. I loved swimming and fishing and just boating on Douglas so I really looked forward to that each August.
It seemed to me as the time to go to Douglas was approaching Dad’s desire to go fishing would increase. We could go out and seine small creeks for minnows for bait and then keep them alive for a day or two. My first adventure with minnow seining came when I was about 7 years old. Dad and some of his friends took me along on one of their minnow safaris and it did open my eyes to some new things. We went out to a buddy’s farm and got into his creek and took the net along the stream until we got to a bridge then we took the net out and checked out our minnow harvest. We got a lot and had several bucketfuls. I also found I had black leeches all over my legs. As it turned out all of us had leeches on us.
Now this leech thing was something no one had taken time to explain to me and something I did not care for at all. Dad, as most everyone else, smoked. So he and his buddies lit up and would take the glowing end of the cigarette and put it on the leech. This would make the leech very interested in letting go and getting away from that burning thing. We took turns burning leeches off each other then went home with our live bait for the next day. Dad told me on the way home that I could use salt and rub in into the leech and they would again give away and drop off. I did not care to get leeched again or try that out either.
My dad’s attitude was if I caught it I cleaned it. I learned early on how to clean fish and in my later years how to filet them. Of course, one had to catch fish large enough to filet, but at the time I saw no problem with that. I loved to fish when I was younger and my youngsters did too as I grew older and had two boys and one young lady. In fact, Eric (my oldest son) and I had a rather interesting time once when he was about my age when I started fishing.
We live on a small lake and could go fishing in our back yard then. I worked in Rushville at my factory but came home for lunch. One summer day I came home for lunch and Eric asked if he caught some fish that afternoon would I clean then and mom cook them? Erroneously I figured he could not get too many fish in a few hours time. I had forgotten we had been feeding the fish with fish food for the summer. Eric didn’t. He took his pole and hook and baited it with the fish food. Then he did so well he just chummed the fish with the fish food and tossed his hook into the feeding frenzy and pulled fish after fish out that way. It ended up he had 85 fish of various sizes by the time I got home. What a surprise that was. I did clean those large enough to clean and quietly tossed the smaller ones out for the turtles. The next day we had a fresh fish dinner and a very pleased son to boot.