Fishing… What can I say about fishing…
My Father loved to fish! I thought he had lots of fishing poles and gear and I thought he fished A LOT… That was before I met Dan… Dan could top Daddy about 50 times.
When we were little Daddy, Mother, Jerri and I went to Lake McConaughay fishing. I think we were actually fishing down below the dam… or maybe it was at one of the check points on the canal system before we got there. Anyway it was a long way down an embankment to the water. Daddy rigged us girls up with a pole and put a minnow on it. He told us that when we felt a little tug we should just run up the bank behind us because we’d have a fish on. We did a lot of running that day and Daddy spent a lot of time baiting our hooks. We were catching crappie. They are fun to catch and good to eat. Here I am with my catch…
Now Mother didn’t like to fish, never fished… She’d be glad to go along, provide the picnic lunch and just enjoy the outdoors reading a book or sunning herself… but no fishing for her.
I believe it was this same day at McConaughay that Mother decided to get a little sun… She had taken her blouse off and was just in her bra. She told us to be sure to tell her if anyone was coming so she could quick put her blouse back on. A little later Daddy asked her to hold his pole while he baited our hooks again… or maybe we had gotten snagged up and he was untangling us. I don’t remember exactly anymore. At any rate, Mother held Daddy’s pole while he helped us… but she wans’t “fishing”… just “holding” the pole. A few minutes later here came the game warden and of course he asked to see their fishing licenses. Well, Mother didn’t have one. She told the game warden that she didn’t have a license because she didn’t fish, she hated fishing. Well… he said that he had been standing up on the dam with his binoculars and had SEEN her fishing. Daddy argued, saying that she wasn’t fishing, she was just holding the pole while he helped the girls with their poles. The game warden said that she had been holding a fishing pole and the line was in the water and that was called fishing. She countered with, “if you saw me holding the pole, then you must have saw me in only my bra.” In the end for whatever reason, he didn’t give her a ticket.
I can remember when a little older going to the Platte River when it was quite low, taking a picnic lunch and having a fun, fun day. The men would chase the carp with pitch forks. It was quite comical to watch… especially as they (or Daddy anyway) didn’t don a swim suit but was wearing his overalls rolled up and no shirt. The carp would then be smoked and were quite delicious on a piece of fresh bread with lots of butter.
Sardines were also good this way… although only Daddy and I liked them. They came in a little square can with a key that wound the top off. The sardines in the can looked just like a lot of little minnows lined up in the can. They have lots of little bones but Daddy would pick the meat off for us both and we’d eat sandwiches together.
Daddy is on the right... and I believe this is my Uncle Alfred Buettner on the left in the cap, and Dora’s husband Guido’s brother in law Earl Burrows in the center.
Usually Daddy would just go walk the sand pits near Grand Island. He had his favorites and they weren’t available to the public. He had permission from the owner to fish them. He caught white bass in them. Later in life he had a little paddle boat and he would take it and paddle around the pits.
This is a picture of Matt and Wade enjoying that paddle boat. When the 1980 tornados hit Grand Island he thought he had lost his little paddle boat. When he and Mother came up out of the basement the covered porch roof was gone as was some patio furniture and his little boat. He was quite upset… that is until the next morning when the sun came up and he discovered that everything was gone starting just one house north and across the street from them… all the houses were leveled, everything was gone, nothing was left for blocks. Then he felt pretty lucky that they had had hardly any damage… and luckier still when he found his little paddle boat in the field across the street.
I think the last time Daddy got to go fishing was in June of 1996 when a friend and I took him and Mother to Johnson’s Lake. We fished the inlet where they have a handicap area built over the edge. We caught lots of walleye that spring day but it seemed most were only 17” long. We had checked the fishing book and thought it said they had to be 18” so had been throwing all of them back. Later… after we had thrown about 10 back… the game warden came along and asked how the fishing was… We sadly told him that we were catching a lot but they were an inch too short. He said, “You know they only have to be 15” at Johnson’s don’t you??” Daddy was so sad… but it had been he that had looked in the book… and I guess he thought that Elwood and Johnson’s would be the same length or that Johnson’s Lake was at Elwood, NE… I’m not sure. Whatever, we had caught enough for several nice fish fries despite our error.
Two years later, when I met Dan, sadly, Daddy was too old to go fishing with us. He could hardly get up out of his chair alone and Dan always takes the boat to fish out of. As much as we wanted to take Daddy along, we didn’t know how we’d get him out of the boat. I do wish we had at least tried. When Dan and I took our first Lake Erie fishing trip together, we came home with lots and lots of big 10 lb walleye and lots of pictures.
We showed them to Mother and Daddy and the picture above brought tears to Daddy’s eyes as he said, “Oh God… all those fish.” I knew he was just green with envy and sad thinking he’d probably never get to go fishing again.
I think about Daddy when Dan and I go fishing… and wonder if he’s looking down from heaven or sitting in the boat along side of us. We’ve had awfully good luck fishing… maybe he’s in the lake putting the fish on our hooks. If so, he sure did a good job this year… as evidenced by the picture below taken just a couple weeks ago…