I said sure!
See, I've only been fishing twice that I can remember. Both times were at someone's lake house, just fishing off the pier, and both times I caught a catfish. At least one of those times, I was the only one who caught anything, so I had secretly come to think of myself as something of a fishing prodigy. No training or practice. I was just a natural fish whisperer.
|Imma end you, fish!|
Also, Brian's friend assured us that this place had so many fish that we would catch our limit in an hour, and have fish just basically jumping into our little foam ice chest.
So we loaded up early on Saturday and drove about an hour to the super-top-secret fishing location. We had to park and then walk about half a mile along the river, so, you know, that was fun. I did wear hiking boots for that part, which I'm glad about. At one point, the mud was so deep that when I stepped into it, it came up to the top of my hiking boot, completely covering the top of my foot! All I could think at that moment was ARTAX, NO!
It was absolutely beautiful by the way. This was the Sipsey River, which is the most awesome river in Alabama, and our favorite trails are along that river, although not in the area we were in. But this is what it looked like when we got there.
Well, after hiking for a little ways along the river, we found the place we were supposed to go. It was very obvious that this "super-secret location" was super secret to a lot of people, because we passed several fly fishers, and soon after we got there, a huge family came down with like, three kids, two parents, and at least two grandparents. And apparently no one told the kids that yelling and splashing through the water would scare the fish because they thought this was just a long, skinny version of their backyard pool. Oh well.
We then prepared to be awesome at fishing. I was told that if someone asked, "What are you fishing?" the correct answer was "rainbow power bait on a Carolina rig," and not, "I'm fishing for fish, what are you fishing for?"
The power bait was pretty cool though. Instead of having to put worms or chicken livers or voodoo or whatever on the hooks, you just got this stuff in a little can that looked and felt like play dough, and smelled like a fish threw up.
Yeah, by the way, fishing is a really gross sport. The bait smells, the fish smell, you get seaweed all over your hook and then all over your hands, and of course, the fish are slimy and usually bleeding when you try to pick them up. Gross.
But back to the story, so we put the play dough bait on the hook, and got ready to cast it. My first fishing lesson was, "No, you're holding it upside down. Turn it over." My bad.
I quickly figured out how to cast it, and I could barely suppress a "watch how it's done" as I cast it into the water and waited. And waited. And waited.
I reeled it in. Cast it back out. And waited. And waited.
*Repeat approximately five hundred times*
Meanwhile, it's getting pretty hot. The mist made it very humid, and the sun was right overhead, so we were sweltering. The water, on the other hand, was like, three degrees above freezing, and when Brian had to wade in and get my hook unstuck from some flotsam, he said his feet went numb.
So it's been like, an hour, in the heat, with no bites at all. Occasionally I lose my bait on a rock or something, but that's about the most exciting thing that happened. I think the fish were all still asleep because the water was so cold. After about an hour, we start to see movement in the water, but still no bites.
Here's the thing. Fish are sneaky. They are camouflaged and fast and they are also ninjas. They can eat the bait off your hook, tie a piece of seaweed onto it, and then jump out of the water and flip you the bird before you even feel a tug. I know because this happened to me multiple times. I swear this one fish was a fin-flop away from pulling out the top hat and cane as he showed me in no uncertain terms that he was out there and yet not falling for my rainbow power bait trap.
So another 30 minutes go by with us getting our bait eaten, seeing fish in the water, and not catching anything. At this point, I'm about to swear off fishing forever, or at least start swearing, when out of no where, Brian's like, "I got one!" And sure enough, he did!
He reeled it in and put it in the ice chest, which was kind of traumatic for me. I mean, I eat meat, but I'm not used to seeing it in its live form first. I know that's a 21st century thing to be so removed from our food source, and I think it's good to remember that food doesn't grow on grocery shelves. But still, kinda sad.
So we go back to fishing and in like, five minutes, he's got another one!
At this point, I'm like, "Move over, I'm fishing in that spot now!" (In my defense, I was in that spot first, but the tap dancing fish frustrated me so much that I moved.) And no kidding, like, five minutes after I started fishing there, I caught one! Yay!
|Please ignore the zip-off shorts and hiking boots. I told you it was hot.|
Then, and I am not exaggerating, I baited my hook, threw it in, and caught another one, just like that!
We had to leave at that point, because I had to be somewhere later that afternoon, but I know if we had stayed, we would have caught enough fish to start a Captain D's.
Later that evening, Brian taught me how to clean the fish, and I did two of them. It did not, as I at first assumed, involve soap and water and possibly a toothbrush. But I was marginally ok the first time he said, "OK, stick your knife in here and cut all the way up to here." And when he said, "Cut the head almost all the way off," I was hanging in there. But when he said, "Ok, now stick your finger inside the fish where you just cut the head off, pull the head off the rest of the way, and the guts will come with it." I just laughed.
I thought he was messing with me.
He was not.
After several failed attempts at putting my fingers in there, I finally did it. It actually wasn't so bad once I did it, and I didn't have any trouble with the second one. (I did not take pictures because it's kinda gross, but Brian said he wished he had a picture of my face when he gave me those instructions.)
So we wrapped the clean fish in foil with some butter, salt, and pepper, and baked it in the oven. When they came out, I learned how to carefully get the meat off the teeny tiny bones, and there was actually a good amount of meat on just one fish.
And we had fish for dinner.