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Possumhaw: Bass fishing reveries


Shannon Bardwell



I pointed my fishing pole toward Sam. "Look!"  


As we faced each other in the fishing boat, he quickly looked behind him. "What?" 


"My pole!" There between us was my new fishing pole with a good two feet dangling off the end. 


"You scared me," he said, "I thought you saw a snake or an alligator. We'll go back and get your old one." 


"No," I pouted. "I'll fish like this."  


Sam said he'd be fuming if his pole broke. I just flung my line out with the broken end on it. 


Eventually the end shimmied its way down to the bait and I decided it'd have to be a pretty dumb fish to strike bait with a pole attached to it. Sam removed the end and re-threaded the line and, believe it or not, I continued to catch fish. 


"You know it's not the pole that catches the fish," I said. "It's the fisherman, but don't tell all those companies selling that fancy equipment that I said so." 


We sat in the boat looking at the lake and I thought what a beautiful world it was. The clouds were broken up and would pass in front of the sun, causing each cloud to have not a silver lining but a golden glow. The sunrays streamed to the earth, translucent yet solid looking. 


"One day I'm going to walk on those clouds, Sam." 


"Maybe so, maybe you'll be in charge of clouds." 


We continued to pull in the bass. The little ones we threw into the bucket. I call them "bucket o' bass." The bigger ones we put back so they can get bigger. I suggest to Sam that he take the bucket to work and every 100th customer could get a "bucket o' bass." Instead he puts them in the freezer. 


Although Sam taught me everything I know about fishing there's the one thing you can't teach a person -- you learn it by yourself or you come by it naturally. 


I fish with a purple and yellow sparkly lizard. I make the cast then I just sit there. I don't reel. I just sit there and wonder at the clouds, and think about the sunrays and how the edges of the clouds look, and if the two birds swooping around us have a nest somewhere, and how amazing it is that three white ducks can "duck" down so low in the reeds that I can't see them. Then I may reel a little or let Sam's paddling the john boat pull me along.  


Just about then the big one hit. Sam watched, "How big is it? Play 'em in. That's right. Your pole isn't bending," he laughed. "You don't have anything to bend. Don't let him jump, keep the line tight." 


I played the fish to the side of the boat like he taught me. Sam lifted the five-pounder into the boat. 


We whooped and hollered and I said, "It's not the pole ... " 


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie. Her email is [email protected]


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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