A young man becomes the family hero

bass caught in creek

One of my favorite stories contains a little something I’m in no way a proponent of this day and age, nor is my dad; that being catch and release in the grease. But you have to understand, it was a different day and age back then.

Kids didn’t get whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted it. They got one pair of shoes, maybe once a year. Hand-me-downs were the name of the game as you could just about bet on what your new wardrobe would look like by eyeing the outfits of your nearest relative in age.

Times were tough back then for the adults but the kids hardly knew it, only wising up in later years as they looked back on what their parents must have gone through to provide. Kids are resilient, though. Through their eager eyes, adversity is often viewed as opportunity if kids are allowed to face a little of it now and then. That’s how this story started.

My dad was a young boy at the time, maybe 7 or 8 years old. It was late in the day but he was wanting to go fishing. Though his mom wasn’t having it, his grandad was all for it; he wanted dad to go catch him some fish to eat. So dad did what kids do… he kept asking until he got a “yes”.

“If your mama says anything, I’ll tell her I sent you up there to get dinner,” dad recalled his grandfather saying. “I asked, ‘are you sure’? But by the time he said ‘sure’, I was already gone.”

Dad peddled his bike as fast as it would go down the quarter-mile of road that separated his granddaddy’s house from Mr. Hugh Webster’s old pond. The empty basket on the front of his his bike bounced along as he went, full of nothing but hopes and dreams at the moment. Dad, however, planned to soon change that.

“I fired that Hula Popper out there just before dark,” Dad said with memories flashing in his eyes as he made the sound of the old topwater chugging along the surface.

“Bloooop, bloop. Bloooop, bloop. Four-pounder. Biggest fish I’d ever caught at the time.”

Dad put the fish on a stringer and secured it to the bank. He made a few more fruitless casts, then another 4- to 5-pounder.

“They were two big ol’ jokers,” Dad said. “I caught two or three more and threw them back. Then put those first two in my basket and came wheeling back into the house.”

His grandad was surprised to see him back so soon and reminded dad that the plan was for him to bring back supper. Dad told him to come outside and look.

“Good God a-mighty!”, grandad said. “Susie! Come out here and see what this boy’s done caught!”

Dad was the hero that day as the family ate well that night. A young boy standing tall with his chest thrown out and an angler hooked forever on the pursuit of tricking a bass into biting a chunk of well-crafted wood, plastic and metal.