"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Take Me Fishing
Copyright © 2005 by Bill Scifres

Fishing trips come and fishing trips go, and they often are etched in the memories of the participants.

So it is that in a reflective mood it is not difficult for me to conjure up scenarios from myriad angling adventures the length and breadth of this great continent and many species of fish. These memories involve fish I caught and fish I didn’t catch. But however that may have gone, these slices of life are important in many ways.

Still, one of my easiest-to- recall angling adventures was my first one . . . “numero uno,” in more ways than one.

It was a beautiful early-summer day at Crothersville (Southern Indiana) and a pair of barefoot boys with tattered bib overalls came excitedly to dig “fishin’ worms” in my mother’s flower beds. They were my late older brother, Jake, and Garland “Big Mitch” Mitchell, whom I say is the greatest all-around athlete ever to tread the halls of dear old C-ville High.

This brace of Crothersvillians, four years my senior, but no more than 10 years old, had been fishing at Buck Trestle. The fishing had been so good that they had run out of bait . . . garden worms.

The fishing yarns they spun as they probed my mother’s flowerbeds and mapped their return so excited me that I begged to be included in the upcoming adventure.

No way, my brother said, I was much too young to walk the old Pennsylvania Railroad tracks the half mile or so to little Buck Creek. But when the flat Prince Albert tobacco cans were refilled with fat garden worms, and they prepared to reenter their angling adventure, I put up such a howl that my mother came to investigate.

My mother asked why I was raising such a ruckus, and my brother explained that I wanted to go fishing with them, but that I was much too young.

This brought an even louder outburst from me, and my mother, a great mediator, decreed that if I couldn’t go, neither could my brother.

Half an hour later Big Mitch had rigged me up with a fishing pole he cut from the brush infested banks of the creek. A piece of grocer’s twine was attached to the small end of the pole, and a long-shanked “sunfish hook” was tied to the end of the twine before the rig was completed with a strip of lead toothpaste tube (wrapped snugly on the line above the hook) for weight and the cork stopper of an empty booze bottle, cut halfway through lengthwise so it could be affixed to the line as a makeshift bobber. 

Buck Creek was bordered on one side by a spit of land about three feet wide under the high concrete trestle of the old Indiana Railway tracks. The pool of the creek (no more than three feet deep, 10 feet wide, and 50 feet long) lapped at the far wall of the trestle.

Standing on the spit of land with our backs to the concrete wall, we would swing our baits pendulum style toward the far concrete wall and allow them to settle into the water where pumpkin seed sunfish and an occasional bullhead catfish awaited.

 “When your bobber sinks, jerk,” Big Mitch told me.

Jerk I did!

I couldn’t keep track of the number of fish I caught, but they all were “keepers” because I catapulted them into the concrete wall behind my back and they became easy pickin’ at my feet.

Little wonder that my Buck Creek adventure gets preferential treatment in my storehouse of angling adventures.

Unfortunately, for many reasons, the soldiers of the army of recreational anglers dwindles. Equally unfortunate, is the fact that while our nostalgic recall of fishing adventures will not stem the tide. We must do more to get others involved in fishing.

The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) reports that in the decade 1991-2001 participation in fishing declined four percent. Furthermore, RBFF believes that the best way to perpetuate this wonderful tradition is for those who fish to introduce others--especially young people--to fishing.

RBFF is asking that we, the 34-million soldiers of the angling army, take someone fishing that might not otherwise have an opportunity to fish. The best time, RBFF says, would be during the upcoming National Fishing and Boating Week, June 4-12.

In conjunction with RBFF “Take Me Fishing” initiative, the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife is offering “free fishing days” for all residents June 11-12.

This annual effort to introduce non-anglers to fishing provides that adults can fish without a license so long as other fishing regulations are obeyed.

To further encourage non-fishing Hoosiers to get involved in fishing, some 40 properties of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will be offering free fishing programs during Free Fishing Days.

For more details on these programs call the Division of Fish and Wildlife (317-232-4080) or go to  http://www.in.gov/dnr/destinations/list.html

MORE ON TICKS--A recent column on ticks and how to dislodge them when they are attached to the skin of humans or domestic animals.

Just cover the tick with a mixture of bacon fryings and salt, says Ruby Black, a Centerville reader. She adds that salt mixed with kind of cooking oil will make a tick happy to get away from the spot.


All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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