Thursday, March 24, 2011

Grandpa, the Barehanded Fisherman

One of my favorite things to do when we visited my grandparents in Scottsboro, Alabama was to go fishing.  The Tennessee River winds its way all around Scottsboro, and there are plenty of places to drop a line in the water.

Grandpa always seemed to be up on where the fish were biting.  Sometimes we’d go to Mud Creek if he heard the fishing was good.  At times, we would just pull over on the side of the highway and hike down the rocks of the riverbank, keeping our eyes out for snakes as we made our way down to the water.  But my favorite place to go was my Uncle Harry’s house on the lake.  We could fish from the shore, or from the pier, inside or outside the boathouse. If we asked Uncle Harry, he would take us out on his fishing boat and we could fish around the lake or out on the river. 

One summer day, it seemed the whole family was at Uncle Harry’s place, fishing off the pier.  There were benches outside of the boathouse, and Granny (my great grandmother) liked to sit and fish with a cane pole.  She had many talents, such as baking fresh coconut cakes, playing the banjo, and catching fish with a cane pole.  Grandpa was quite a fisherman too.  He was great at tying and baiting hooks, even though he only had one eye.  He taught me how to tie a hook so it would never slip off the line. 

A few of us had gone out on the boat with Uncle Harry, and were returning to the boathouse.  Before we pulled into the boathouse, we sat in the boat fishing near the end of the pier.  Grandpa was standing on the pier, probably baiting someone’s hook.  All of a sudden, all hell broke loose, and Grandpa was pouncing around on the dock on his hands and knees.  At first I thought he had fallen, but then I saw he was corralling a bass on the pier.  While he had been baiting someone’s hook, he had left his shiny, bare hook dangling in the water, and a bass had taken it.  Not one to lose an opportunity to catch a fish, Grandpa had snatched his pole and flipped the bass onto the dock.  It had come off the hook and was flopping its way back to freedom.  Grandpa was determined not to let that happen, and had pounced on it, catching it with his bare hands.

Aunt Naomi, cooked up a big fish dinner that night, and we talked about our fishing experiences of the day.  But nobody could top my Grandpa’s story.  He was such a good fisherman he could catch them with his bare hands!

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