The Day Grandma Caught Herself
By Steven H. McGarthwaite
Grandma Mil (Short for Mildred, and "God Help" the person who called her
that), was a fisherwoman, and a great one too. She could put the best
fisherman to shame. If there was only one fish left in the lake, Grandma
Mil would catch it. If nobody was even getting a nibble, Grandma Mil would
come in with her limit, in all species (at the same time). Many tried to
find out her secret, many would try sneaking-a-peek in her tackle box. They
would buy the same line that she used and the same rod and reel.
Grandma Mil was a looker in her day, I saw pictures of her in her
flapper clothes she wore during the Roaring 20's. She was the "Cats Meow"
as they would say back then. But I only knew her as Grandma Mil, in her
housedress and straw hat, fishing in the boat. If she was using a 'Lazy
Ike,' there would be a run on the tackle shop for 'Lazy Ike's!'
When Rapala's became the new hot lure she would nail those fish hard,
having the time of her life. She would be catching fish, and others
where not. Men in town would take off their hats as they were passing by on
the street. There were none better than her at catching fish. All that
changed the day Grandma caught herself! I know, 'cause I was there when it
happened. It was the start of her downfall, and it was all my fault.
My dad was at the stern of the boat (running the outboard), Grandma Mil
was on the middle bench of the boat fishing, and I was fishing from the bow.
When Grandma Mil fished, it was trolling (unless she had her cane pole and a
hunger for some sunfish or crappies). I would mimic Grandma Mil, if she had
on her gold 6-inch Rapala (which she did that fateful day), so did I.
Dad always fished out of the stern, Grandma Mil fished to port, and I had
the starboard side of the boat. As usual, Grandma had a strike and her line
was singing off of the reel. It was a "Big One," no matter how much she
tighten the brake the line would not stop. Dad and I quickly reeled in our
lines (that was the rule, fish on, all other lines in the boat). Dad put the
engine into neutral, but the line kept singing off the Grandma's old baitcast
reel. Final dad put the engine into reverse so Grandma could get some of
her line back (she was starting to see the core of the reel). Slowly the
fished tired and Grandma started to bring this "Monster of the Deep" to
the surface. Finally it could be seen, it was the largest Carp I have ever
Grandma got it up close to the boat and Dad was trying to maneuver
the boat to bring it along side. Grandma yelled, "Oh, (censored word), it a
(two censored words) no good Carp!" My Grandma never used profanity before
in my presence and to her dying day, I never heard such language from her
again. Grandma yelled she would be needing the net.
I grabbed the net off the middle seat, normally my dad did this but he
was busy controlling the boat. I stuck the net into the water, just as I had
seen my dad do on many occasions. I swept the net under the back of the
Carp enveloping it's body in the net. When it was fully in the net, I lifted
with all my might. Grandma reached in to unhook the Carp, and just then
I dropped the net. The Rapala popped out of the Carps mouth, arced thru the
air, and behind Grandma. I lost my balance and fell into Grandma, who was
knocked down to her bench, sitting on her lure.
The ride back in the boat to the cabin was the longest trip I can
remember (except for one other episode later in my youth). Grandma Mil had
not one of the treble hooks imbedded into her rear regions. She had all
three hooks full sunk in deep. When we got to shore, dad had to drive her
into town to the community hospital. The doctor had to be called from
home. As all small towns go, by noon the next day, Grandma Mils plight was
the talk of the town.
Grandma Mil, continued to catch fish, and catch more than anyone else.
She had lost something that she would never catch again.
If someone brought it up, she would laugh, for she was that kind of person.
But after that to everyone she knew, she was the woman who caught herself fishing.
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