Archived Story

Don’t mess with a mess of fish

Published 11:30pm Tuesday, March 19, 2013

In my younger days, fishing was a big part of my life, not to mention the lives of many of my family members.
I learned about surf fishing from my Granddaddy Sanders. I learned about mullet fishing from him and Uncle Bobby. I learned about running a trotline from my father. When it comes to catching fish, I was well versed.
I also learned that losing a stringer of fish was not healthful for me. I was taught — and I mean taught that lesson — by my mother, an avid angler in her younger days.
We were living in base housing at Camp Pendleton, which is next to Oceanside, Calif. It’s halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles. Camp Pendleton had Marines, small mountains and at least one lake. From time to time, the family would fish there.
Well, on one occasion, my mother, my two younger sisters and myself were fishing. OK, Mama was fishing. I was sort of fishing. My sisters were being annoying. Mama was fishing for our evening meal and possibly for lunch the next day. I may have caught a fish or two. I don’t recall. I do remember getting bored. I began to play with the stringer of fish. The stringer was a simple thing — a long, thin rope with a metal, needle-like thing on one end. That end was stuck in the ground, with the fish on the other end in the lake.
Mama claims I did not properly put the needle end into the ground, allowing the fish to drift or swim away. I have always maintained I properly returned the needle end of the stringer into the ground and that the combined power of so many fish on the other end of the stringer resulted in the fish being able to pull the needle end of the stringer out of the ground, allowing them to escape. To me, that explanation was a testimony to how my mother had a talent for catching lots of big fish.
You guessed it. As much as my mother loved to fish, I knew I was in trouble. I had not seen her that mad since I almost lost my sister Angie at a fall carnival at our school on the base.
When we arrived at home, Mama warmed my backside. Yeah, I deserved it, but I didn’t eat fish for a long time.
And when I see a stringer of fish these days, I walk the other way, usually to a seafood restaurant.
Mike Voss is the senior editor/reporter at the Washington Daily News.

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