For a while now my good buddy Kenny B. has been trying to get me to fishing with him. I’ve been a little tepid about the whole scenario for two reasons. One, last time I hung out with him he took me to a honky tonk in the middle of the country and I got waaaaay too drunked up and just about got myself killed. And two, I suck at fishing. Seriously, I am not just inexperienced, I really suck at it. I love nature, and I think fishing is cool, but I have no skills whatsoever. And I kind of dislike looking like a total failure in the world of manly activities. So he’s been bugging me to go out fishing with him forever, and finally I gave in. I kind of thought it would go something like Old Gregg the scaly man fish with his beaming mangina.
So I went and got my fishing license, and some beer, and woke my happy ass up at three in the god forsaken morning, and drove on my little scooter all the way to the middle of the next county over so I could get on the river before dawn. After much sleepy eyed bitching and running about we finally managed to rustle up the boat, fishin rods, rifle, and various other necessities we would be needing for the day. We dropped the boat off up in Smithfield and I sat with it while Kenny went off to get the bait and park his truck where we would be getting out of the river. I drank me a Faygo (which are hard as shit to find down here, and are delicious) and ate some McDonalds biscuits we had picked up, and kind of absorbed the peaceful vibes of the Neuse river while I waited for his pops to bring him back and drop him off.
Now from the way everyone else had warned me about fishing with Kenny, I would probably be stung to death by highly poisonous catfish barbs, bit up by tree leaping water moccasin, and not catch a damned thing all day. But as the sky lightened up and I chilled there on the river bank, it actually seemed like paradise for a southern man like myself. It was beautiful. Minnows swam all around the reeds, and dragon flies flitted from spot to spot. A cool mist floated off the calm waters, reflecting the pink and blue sky. Some random redneck showed up and started teaching his little girl how to fish. It was great.
Despite our drought, the river was flowing alright, and the water was just as calm and beautiful as anyone could ever ask for. Now I haven’t been fishing since I was a little kid, minus one little excursion I took with Kenny after our honky tonk shindig, and that wasn’t real fishing, just a little trip to the lake to keep his boys busy. I chopped up some minnows on my paddle, then noticed we were floating sideways and immediately dumped them in the water as I went to paddle us straight. Friggin dumbass. Then I asked him what I should do if a fish found my bait. Well it’s a good thing I did cause no sooner did the words come out of my mouth than one started nibbling on one of his lines. He taught me how to tell when a fish was biting, and when to try and hook it, but his got away. Then sure enough faster than I could turn around my red line got a bite. So I picked it up there and sat spring loaded to hook that little bitch the next time he so much as nibbled.
With all my attention focused into a ninja like trance of impending defeat, I felt for any vibration in my pole, any movement in the line. Then with no warning my other pole just about shot out of the boat. I dropped the red line and franticly snatched up my yellow pole, trying not to flip the boat over as I gained control of whatever behemoth was struggling furiously to rip the line in half. After a few seconds of straining, it got away, but I had tasted my first sweet mouthful of the ambrosia that is man versus fish. I was bummed, but I reeled my line in to rebait it hoping I could get him again. Well it got about ten feet from the boat and I realized the damn fish had not got off the hook at all, it was just swimming straight at me. It began to thrash and fight harder than ever. I pulled back with all my might, then gave it some slack, reeled in a little, and kept inching it closer to the boat, wearing it out little by little.
Well pretty soon it tired out and I pulled the sucker over to the side of the boat. Kenny picked it up and dehooked it, and I got my victory picture with it before I threw it on the stringer. Maybe fifteen minutes on the water and I had got the first and biggest fish of the day. It was a mudcat, and I named him Earl, cause I caught him early. 😉 Just go ahead and ignore the closed eyes. I was intensely rocking out when this was taken.
As a matter of fact, I caught the first three of the day if I remember correctly. Due of course to no skill of my own, just random beginners luck I suppose. Either way I couldn’t resist catching a quick shot when Kenny pulled one in. I guess the student has become the master.
We headed on down the river, floating from hole to hole, trying out any spots we thought might have some decent catfish. From time to time we’d spot deer drinking on the banks. One of them kind of freaked out when she saw us and literally scaled a twelve foot bank that was damn near vertical, at a full run no less. I have no explanation for this clear defiance of gravity besides … spider deer. She does whatever a spider deer does. Kenny was the navigator and I was the master baiter. I pretty much master baited all day long. It was awesome. Somewhere about half way between the two boat ramps we ran across what I dubbed shit creek. It was a water treatment runoff creek. I always imagined shit creek being somewhat gnarlier, but fortunately it didn’t stink any worse than we did after spending half a day elbow deep in fish guts and the summer sun. Plus we both had paddles, so we were fairly safe.
We were running out of bait quick, and had no luck catching any brim or gar, then our luck turned. Kenny hooked him an eel. I was siked. Kenny, having experienced eel before was not siked and gladly agreed to let me handle the chopping up of that sick little fuck. He shot it with the .22 he brought so we wouldn’t have to deal with a live eel in the boat. And that turned out to be a good thing, cause apparently eels are just about the slimiest creatures known to man. Imagine a long limp cock greased with the slipperiest slime you have ever felt in your life. So slippery in fact that simply grasping the bitch to cut it up is a huge challenge. I lost a knife in the process. The coating of slime is not water soluble, and once you touch the eel, it comes off on your hands, knives and clothing in sticky strands quite similar to human cum once it hits water. It just won’t come off, EVER! And the damned skin is like fuckin super rubber or something, making it damn near impossible to cut up. I finally managed to get four little segments cut off the thing, and we baited up our hooks with those.
The good news was that the unbelievable resilience of the eel made it perfect for bait. The catfish kept hitting it all day long, and even after catching several more fish and having countless nibbles from cats and gar all four of the hooks kept their bait. In fact, only one of them lost it at all for the rest of the day, which was a good five hours more. Anyway, next time we’ll probably let the dang thing dry out a little before we try to mess with it, but either way here’s what it looked like.
So we had a great time. All said and done, we spent ten hours on the Neuse river, and let me tell you, by the time that ten hours was over, my ass was so sore it had gone numb. Apparently ten hours is too long to sit on a metal bench. Eight would have been a good stopping point for me. Of course, when we got to the end ramp, the hard part had just started. My butt and my back were throbbing, and we had to load the boat and supplies back up in the truck, take them to their various destinations, make it back to Kenny’s trailer, and load up the catfish on my scooter. I was half burnt, tired as hell, stank like the ass end of a seal, and still had to drive with a big load of catfish an hour back to my house.
Here’s the fun part though. See catfish have these bones that stick out of their side and back fins. These bones are about as big as a really big nail, and have serrated edges, meaning that if they flop around and stab you with one, it could well go through whatever it hits, in this case, my feet. I didn’t particularly take to the idea of having a bone nail driven through my foot at 40 miles an hour, and these fish were still alive, but wrapped in three trashbags with bones sticking out in every direction like a pincushion of pain and death. In any case, I rode all the way home with my feet propped way up next to my ass where the passenger’s feet are supposed to go. I don’t care how retarded I looked, I never got stabbed or crashed.
I was so damn tired, I wanted nothing more than to fall asleep right there in the driveway, but I went out back and started the mighty fun task of cleaning the fish. It was at this point that I learned that yellow jackets love catfish. I was not expecting that. I hate bees, wasps, hornets, and anything else that can fly around and sting me. Fuck that! I did a fair amount of running away and bitching like a pansy but finally my dad and I got all five fish fairly well chopped up and carried everything inside where I could at long last wash the guts off my body and get some sleep.
One particularly cool thing about cleaning fish that I had never experienced before was their overactive nerves. By the time I got them home, those fish were dead as a door knob, but every time I went slicing and dicing to get the meat off the bones, the whole fish would contract around my fingers. It was damn cool. In fact, even when I had a little piece left over for my cat, and I cut it up into smaller chunks, it continued twitching every time I cut it, no matter how small it got. It was weird. Also, I just about freaked out the first time I felt the intestines. I was expecting something squishy, and instead was treated with a gravely texture. Upon closer examination their diet appears to consist mainly of very small shellfish. Go fig, that’s why they love real meat so much.
I hit the sack after several full body scrubbings and a lingering odor of fish guts, and slept for sixteen blissful hours. No dreams, just the sweet embrace of exhausted sleep. I haven’t slept like that in months, and I loved it. And then Sunday night came and I got the big payoff. I cooked up dinner for my family!
I pan fried some of the catfish fillets in a Cajun cashew batter in bacon grease and peanut oil. Then I made some twice baked potatoes with cheese and butter mashed into the filling, and topped with bacon. My mom went out to get us some slaw from Carolina BBQ, cause even if I knew how to make vinegar based slaw the right way, we didn’t have the ingredients. And for dessert I whipped up some custard bread pudding with coconut and Abuelita swirls on top. And of course, some good old fashioned Luzianne sweet iced tea to wash it all down.
And if I may say so myself, I cooked a fuckin awesome dinner. It was one of the best I have ever made. I even made sure to get a piece of Earl for myself, cause he was my prize catch. Everyone loved the dinner. Hell my dad even said it was one of the best pieces of fried fish he has ever had. I was proud as a peacock. Anyway, that’s my big fish story. Thanks for listening y’all. Tune in next time for my plans of anarchist social commentary, or whatever strikes my fancy at the moment. I’ll leave you with a view of the feast you missed. Maybe next time you can drop by and have supper with us.