The Green Frog Blog!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


this is an excerpt from my new book The Chicken Whisperer to be published in February

“Either we do not know what part of ourselves to give, or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. So it is those who we live with and love and should know that elude us. But we can still reach out to them, we can love completely without complete understanding.”
                         …..from the movie A River Runs Through It


here are three paths to manhood- chest hair, a bloody nose, and a big fish.  Sometimes they happen in reverse order, and if you’re really lucky they all happen at the same time.

Me & Nessy!
    Learning to fish was a sacred event in my life.  It has almost changed me as much as my baptism.   Every kid in the world should learn to do something their ancestors had to do to survive.  They need to have an experience in their life that says, “I man.  Man strong.”  Fishing was my invitation into the human race.

     I began my fishing career with a rustic, but efficient, eight-foot cane pole and a three-inch red and white bobber.  With no money I had to use a poor man’s bait---a can of worms I dug up around the calf barn.   Just like anything sacred, fishing requires a sacrifice, and for the most part the worms cooperated, or at least they kept their mouths shut.   I liked this primitive form of bait because it made me feel like Huckleberry Finn, who reminded me of Mark Twain, who reminded me of Colonel Sanders, who reminded me of fried chicken.  I like fried chicken.  When I caught a fish with a worm it made me feel like Captain Ahab harpooning Moby Dick, which made me feel like Rambo spearing a squirrel, which made me feel like a caveman spearing a pterodactyl (a giant flying bird).  I like fried chicken.  When I caught my first fish I knew I was hooked.

     After yanking fish out of the water with a cane pole for a couple of years, I graduated to a Zebco 404, which is barely one step above a Snoopy reel.  (If you’re serious about catching fish never use a Snoopy reel, or a Little Mermaid reel.)  Fishing with a Snoopy reel is like handing a banana to a hungry gorilla and then trying to take it back. 

     Eventually I perfected the art of casting and got bold enough to throw off the training wheels and go after bottom dwelling catfish.   To fish for catfish you have to be prepared to put &*#! on a hook, stare at a pole for thirty minutes, and withstand a heartbeat of 200.   Nothing compares to catching catfish, except eating them with vinegar slaw and hush puppies.  Don’t forget the ketchup.

      Everybody should buy at least one bag of stink bait even if you don’t fish.   The smell of stink bait will make you pray to be sprayed by a skunk.  It will make you appreciate a bath in sewage.  You will do anything to get the stench of stink bait out of your nostrils and off your hands.   Why anything would want to eat stink bait is a tougher question than where do dead pets go.  I think they might use them to make stink bait.

      However, the best way to catch catfish doesn’t even involve a pole, it involves a milk jug.   There is no greater thrill, no greater risk, and no greater reward than jug fishing.  The giant that would snap the typical line on a fishing pole can be caught with the properly rigged jug.  Just have a plan to handle him when you get him in the boat.  A small revolver will usually do the trick.  Just don’t shoot a hole in your boat. 

      You jug fish by taking your household empty milk jugs and attaching short pieces of nylon string and strong hooks.  You then wait until dark; get in a boat and bait the hooks; place them randomly in the pond; and then row back to shore.  You then set on the pond bank by a fire with a high-powered flashlight, and when you see a jug take off across the water like Jaws, you jump in and chase it down in the boat.   If you ever see the jug go completely under, prepare yourself for a fish the size of a hot water heater.

     I used to escape to the lake as often as possible with my Zebco 33 and my dad’s tackle box. Sometimes I took my bike and sometimes I just walked the two miles.    The day I hooked Nessy I rode my bike.

    Believe it or not, I caught Nessy in January during a winter thaw.   Nessy was nine pounds of large mouth bass (I have the picture to prove it).  I named her Nessy after her smaller cousin the Loch Ness Monster. 

     It was about 60 degrees and I was dressed in high- water Jeans and a thin camo T-shirt.  My hair was so thick it was sometimes referred to as “Eagle’s Nest.” I looked weird, but it was to my advantage.

     After about fifty casts I realized I was wasting my time so I decided to call it quits and started reeling in my lure to head to the house. I was about to yank it out of the water when it was ten feet from the shore but suddenly I saw a huge swirl erupt close to the bank.   A second later I felt the strike.  It was as if I had just hooked an underwater nuclear submarine.   Luckily, I had my drag set for Crappie and my reel responded with whining while releasing string rather than my line snapping in two.  

       I wish I could tell you my reel started smoking and I battled the behemoth for two hours but the truth is, she gave up.   I think she got a glimpse of me from the water and thought, “Dang, this kid looks funny.  He needs a little boost.  I’ll be his trophy.”   I simply pulled her to shore in about ten seconds, reached down, grabbed her by her mouth, and, in the excitement, threw her over my head to ensure she would not flop back into the water.    I turned around and she was gone, nowhere to be found.  At first I thought it was all a hallucination from eating too much left over fermented fruit cake, but then I spotted my beautiful Nessy hanging in the tree like a Christmas ornament.

      I got her out of the tree, tied her to my bike, and rode home like Paul Revere warning the settlers the British were coming.  It was a wonderful celebration, and a decent supper.  I couldn’t afford to get her mounted.  My memory and proof of Nessy is a simple three by five photograph of the girl who made me feel like a man.  She changed my life.

     Fishing was and still is a powerful metaphor in my life when it comes to relationships. 

  • Relationships and fishing both depend on tying a knot, and you’re wasting your time if you don’t do it right.
  • Relationships and fishing both involve getting your hands dirty.  The sacrifice works both ways.
  • Relationships and fishing connect two different species and all good fishermen know a lot about swimming.
  • Relationships and fishing both lead to a kiss when you get a really nice one.  Don’t be afraid to celebrate, even when nobody’s watching.

this is an excerpt from my new book The Chicken Whisperer to be published in February


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