I was born and raised on a farm that had little time for hunting and fishing. From time to time, especially if my cousins from Louisville came down, he would load us all up in the back of his truck and drive us back to one of the ponds in the field to do a little fishing.
I didn’t think anything of it back then, but kids today would be mind blown, especially those that do a lot of fishing. We would go out by the cattle lot or some similar spot where the ground was over fertile and dig up ‘fishing worms.’ There were no fancy lures or jigs. Then, dad would go back in the back of the shop where the machinery was kept, and pull out some old dust covered treasures that none of us even knew were hiding in plain sight. Tucked in between the wood framework of the building and the outer metal siding were fishing poles.
Now, these weren’t any fancy Ugly Stick fiberglass rods with a nice Abu Garcia, Zebco or Shimano reel on them. These were cane poles. For those of you too young to understand the concept, it is a bamboo pole with a set length of line on the end. There is no reeling; you just run backwards until you drag whatever you caught to the shore.
This also brings me to the next point of distinction. There also wasn’t any fancy stealth braided, fluorocarbon or even run of the mill monofilament lines. Well, I guess it was braided in a sense, as it most closely resembled the small rope that was once used to wrap packages together. A piece of triangular shaped wood served as the bobber. On the end, there was an old rusty hook that was the demise of many a good worm but few fish.
The beauty of it all, however, was, that even though we usually caught nothing but small sunfish, we were kings of the world, dragging Moby Dick to the shore. It was the time with family; it was the laughter; it was the taking a break from the farm with dad; it was truly the best of times.
All of this young fishing bliss would soon end one fateful Sunday afternoon at my maternal grandparents’ farm. Unlike the Hobbs side, the Sturgeon side of my family viewed hunting and fishing quite differently. Uncle Jack still to this day is an avid hunter and fisher. Papaw loved fishing more than anything.
Uncle Jack was someone I always looked up to. He was the guy who always made everyone laugh. When he would come down from Louisville on the weekends to visit Mamaw and Papaw, I would be waiting and tag along behind him like his shadow. He would take me back in the fields and shoot groundhogs most every time he came down. He would also make a trip down to papaw’s giant stock pond to go fishing before he left. I was always amazed by this giant tackle box he had. Fake frogs, crawdads, minnows and worms filled the multi-tiered shelves inside that box. If there was something a fish might like to bite at, he surely had it.
The unfortunate side of fishing for a young boy is that, no matter how great it is, you will get bored hanging out with avid adult fishermen. So, on this particular day, I decided to go hunting while he continued to fish. By the time I had got way around the other side of the pond from him, my interest had floundered. Just before I was ready to give up and go back to the house, I stumbled upon a treasure. There, just below the surface of the murky water of that cattle pond, was a white beacon shining through. I wrangled it up out of the water and found it to be the biggest egg I had ever seen in my young life. It was a miracle—how could such a large egg be waiting for me under the water of all places.
I marched it to the house with great pride, yelling for Mamaw to come out and behold this great treasure. Oh, I just knew she was going to be so proud. When she came out, however, she inquired where I had got the egg, and I told her the whole story. Bewildered, I watched as Mamaw’s face failed to light up with joy at my great discovery. She said, “Chad, that is a rotten goose egg. Get that thing away from this house and whatever you do, DO NOT DROP IT!”
Defeated, I turned and took two steps down her walkway towards the pasture where she had told me to toss it when the unthinkable occurred. The giant goose egg slipped from my hands and splattered on her brick walkway just feet from the porch. It was at that moment I realized what all the stink she had raised over getting rid of that egg was all about. I have never been sprayed by a skunk, but I can’t believe it could be worse than the foulness my folly unleashed that fateful day. I’ve heard some whoppers when it comes to fish stories, but boy, I sure wish this one wasn’t true.