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Fine Fishing on Frazier's Creek

by N. Ray Maxie
N. Ray Maxie

"Boy, that makes me mad. You just caused me to lose a whole stringer full of nice fish", papa quipped as I squirmed around near the end of a large log. That log was a big, dead tree trunk that had fallen into the creek several years earlier. It reached way out into the middle of the creek where fishing was usually fine. The log had some large limbs on it we had to step over and around. Some of the limbs were positioned just right for us to sit on while fishing.

It was a late autumn evening after I had ridden the school bus home and papa had gotten off work in the Rodessa Oil Field. We were sitting there on Frazier's Creek in one of his favorite fishing spots. We were about twenty yards below the FM 125 Highway Bridge half a mile west of the Rambo crossroads, in Cass County.

Only a few minutes earlier, papa and I had stopped his old 1939 Chevrolet pickup alongside the road from McLeod, Texas. We walked out into a low lying, fertile area to dig some fishing worms. With each turn of a shovelfull of moist, fertile soil, we found some large and wiggly earthworms. Filling our bait can nearly full of dirt and many worms, we had just what we needed for fish bait. Then papa said, "That's it, we are about ready to go fishing." I was excited! I really loved to catch those little sun-perch, brim and goggle-eye fish; having them bob my cork, pulling on my line, flopping and threshing in the water. It was lots of fun to go fishing with papa.

I was only an 8 to 10 year old towhead, shirttail, barefoot country kid and our fishing excursions were most always pleasant. Papa had cut us some cane poles from the old canebrake a while back in the summer. A canebrake is a bamboo patch where a bunch of small to medium size canes grow. Stripping the branches and leaves off the canes, he let them dry in the barn during the summer heat. After drying, those green poles turn a beige color and become much, much lighter. The larger and longer cane poles are the heaviest ones. Papa usually chose a shorter, lighter one for me, the kid, to hold out over the water, because a heavier pole will make your arm get mighty tired after fishing for a while.

Papa had taken some fishing line, small fish hooks, sinkers and red corks and rigged our poles just right for light fishing. He also had a larger nylon cord about three or four feet long with a short wire twisted on the end to use as a fish stringer. Each time we caught a fish, we would run the cord through the fish's gills and mouth to hold it on the stringer. The stringer of live fish would then be allowed to dangle in the water, keeping them alive and fresh.

On this occasion, papa was as far out on the end of the log as he could get, fishing in the deeper water; his favorite spot. I was right behind him, sitting on a limb and fishing off the sides of the log in the "not so deep" water. Soon papa began catching fish right and left. As fast as he could pull them in, put them on the stringer and rebait his hook, he would catch another. None of the fish were very large; no bigger than your hand. But they were lots of fun to catch and the right size papa liked to clean and fry whole.

Since he was using the stringer so frequently, papa never bothered to tie it to a limb. He only placed the cord conveniently under his foot. That way he kept his foot on it until he soon caught another fish to string. Doing that was easier and much faster for him. After awhile, we had a good stringer full of fish, most of which papa had caught. He was having lots of fun and I know he must have had visions of a big skillet full of fresh, crispy fried fish.

Meanwhile, back at my spot on the log, I was catching very few fish. My only action was real "slow" and I could see papa was having all the fun. So I began to scoot out on the log, closer to him and begged, "Let me out there. I want to catch some fish. I haven't caught any. Please."

Of course he didn't immediately respond and really kind of ignored me for a long while. He kept right on fishing. I continued squirming and begging, "Oh, let me fish out there some. I can catch'em." So after a long wait, which seemed like forever, he began to get tired from pulling in so many fish. Then papa said to me, "OK. Come on!"

As I shuffled around, he and I tried to pass by each other on the log. Then papa unthinkingly took his foot off that long stringer cord of fish. It began to drift away. Quickly realizing what he had done during all the distraction, he desperately grabbed in the water a time or two for the stringer but he couldn't reach it. The water current was swift and carried it quickly away. He then took the end of his long fishing pole and tried to snag the stringer with it. That too, missed and our nice, long stringer of fish quickly sunk and was gone down stream, never to be seen again.

Papa, being mighty angry and sadly disappointed, said, "Boy, that makes me mad. You just caused me to lose a whole stringer full of nice fish. I ought to take you out there and thrash your behind good." I was seriously afraid he would, so I quickly got off the log and put a little distance between us.

Of course I was extremely sad too, and mighty fearful that papa's anger might cause me to get that whipping. Maybe I deserved it, but all I had wanted was to catch some of those fish, as any kid my age would want. The result had caused us to lose all that we had caught.

It was after sundown and very near dark as we left the creek and headed home. This wasn't a pleasant ending to our fishing trip. But there would be others. We went home sad, disappointed, and empty-handed.

Soon papa's anger subsided and I later heard him tell momma he wouldn't whip his only son over a stringer full of fish. Said, he felt it was partly his own fault for holding the cord under his foot and not being careful enough. Said, we could just catch more fish later and he was real thankful one of us hadn't fallen in the creek.

N. Ray Maxie
"Ramblin' Ray" >
September 14, 2006 Column
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