In my 20’s I also learned another fishing technique, casting for ocean fish off the rocky breakwater shown above.(not one of my photos.) This style required new skills, not least of them walking out over large rocks, often still slippery from earlier tides. The gear was similar to lake fishing, with a stronger line, a heavy metal weight, and sand shrimp as bait instead of worms. The fish, coming as they did from deep in the Pacific Ocean, looked prehistoric to me, including varieties of rockfish.
Key to fishing off these jetties was an awareness of tides. We had grown up near enough to the ocean that an understanding of tides was seemingly wired into our brains, so we recognized both the going out and the coming in of tides. The trick was to arrive as the tide was leaving and to pack up before the tide threatened our ability to walk back across the jetty to dry land. Little crosses on the jetty mark where some reckless fishermen neglected the incoming tide in their quest for the perfect haul.
Bringing the fish in out of the ocean was a true challenge. The lead weight sometimes convinced me that I had caught a fish, as had the times the line was caught up in rocks. I also wasn’t really skilled at staying balanced on rocks while reeling in a large ugly fish. I usually turned that task over to my fishing partner.
Truthfully my favorite part of fishing on the Oregon coast was lunch after we were done. We drove into town for, you guessed it, fish and chips.
Today we filled our refrigerator with food prepared by the organization pictured above. Tomorrow I am sharing it with family members outside since it is to be fair and mild. I am grateful that I was able both to benefit an inner city job center and to get my Thanksgiving dinner cooked in one move. Happy Thanksgiving to my friends all over the world!
Well, this post isn’t really about crawdads, but it is about fishing holes, so I thought I would share the video. Until I was an adult the only fishing I knew about was on lakes and streams. I had watched fly fishing and trawling. But in my early 20’s I made friends whose roots were in the southern United States, and I learned about fishing holes. Trout and salmon didn’t frequent these warm water spots, so I also learned to eat a new variety of fish.
Sloughs dot Western Oregon, providing a perfect home for warm water fish. These required learning a new skill, seeking them with a worm, a rod and reel and a bobber. Basically I put a worm on a hook, threw the worm and line into the pond and waited for the bobber to—bob! When it began to go down or up and down it meant a fish was biting and I needed to set the hook and reel it in. One advantage of this kind of fishing appealed to me; a lot of time was just waiting, the perfect opportunity to drink a beer. Apparently beer was an essential element in this style of fishing. Discarded bottles and cans usually adorned the banks of these spots.
I hooked, bonked on the head, cooked and ate blue gill, crappie, sunfish, bass and catfish. I prepared all of these in the southern style of batter dipped, cornmeal coated, and fried. They were tastier than I remembered fish being. Perhaps it was the additional beer with supper.
I think it curious that my parents kept taking pictures of me holding or staring at fish! Anyway, here is another one a couple of years later at Detroit Lake, a newly opened campground in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. The Santiam River was dammed, creating this large lake in 1953. I would guess we camped there for the first time in 1954 when it was still pretty undeveloped. In high school I water skied here with friends and eventually it was fully built out for RV’s. This past fall the whole area was destroyed by forest fires.
These trout certainly show the skill of my father fishing from the little boat in the far distance of the picture. He drove the boat very slowly dragging a line behind him, trawling for fish. I was less impressed by this method since it lacked the artistry of the fly cast I had come to admire.
As for me, I am in a red wool bathing suit with little golf ball buttons. All these years later I can recall how I hated this bathing suit. Not only did it itch, it also sagged. It is no wonder that even this good haul has failed to produce my smile.
Clearly by the time I was three as I was just as curious and skeptical as I had been when confronted with a bucket of smelt. Here I examine a rainbow trout caught by my father when fishing. Above my head you can see the wicker basket that my father used to keep the fish.
My parents loved tent camping when we were growing up. I must say, for those used to RV travel, that tent camping was a redundant phrase when I was a child. It was just called “camping.” We had a large tent, those war surplus mummy bags, a Coleman white gas fueled camp stove, a Coleman white gas fueled lantern and a Coleman ice chest. I don’t know if Coleman had any competitors at the time, but it was all we ever bought. In fact they were even referred to as “Coleman stoves,” rather like the ubiquitous “Kleenex” and “Bandaids.”
Oregon was full of campsites, basically flat places on the ground in the midst of evergreen trees. Sometimes they had running water and outhouses. Often they didn’t. In the latter case we dug latrines and hauled water from creeks. We didn’t know about the risks of that water, and we fortunately were spared any parasites.
But we were always next to a lake, and my father always fished. He was a fly fisherman who studied the bugs and spent much time casting and recasting his line. I never tried it. It was an activity that belonged to my dad alone. I did eat the trout every summer. I remember the camp fires, the metal grate and the cast iron skillet that cooked them. And I remember the bones. As a child I thought the effort of deboning a trout outweighed any value as food.
A few years ago, Charlie and I watched a waiter at an upscale Italian restaurant deftly debone a trout table side. In one quick movement the trout was ready to eat. He was what was missing when we went camping!
A friend of the family likes to fish, and it began reminding me of the many times in my life I have been fishing. I thought I would post a few of these as a great distraction from the insanity now raging in my nation as a tyrant tries to overturn our legal Presidential election by pulling out all the stops he can invent each day.
Above you can see the smelt run on the Sandy River in Oregon in spring of 1949. When the call went out that “the smelt are running,” crowds of people took their nets, drove a short way out of Portland and hauled them in. On the left you can see our friend Dick wading in the river and on the right I am either admiring or being horrified by the haul. My attitude towards fishing has often vacillated between the two reactions.
Curious if this still occurred, I consulted the internet only to learn that the last significant smelt run took place in 1980. Not only that, but in 2010 they were listed as an endangered species. Apparently that halt on their capture has led to a modest rebound of the smelt, though clearly nothing like the runs in the 1940’s.
I have no memory of eating smelt. But I am in awe of the plenitude of fish just there for the netting. In 1949 it didn’t occur to anyone that this tradition would ever end.
An elephant’s gestation period is 22 months. It has now been eight months since the order for people my age to restrict their activities because of covid. We have missed Easter and we are about to miss Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. Even if the vaccine is developed and even if a majority of Americans decide to take it (how likely is that?) Dr. Fauci, the nonpartisan head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said this morning that it will be the third or fourth quarter of 2021 before things will begin to approach “normal.” In other words about another eleven months. But realistically given many Americans’ denial that there even is a disease, I figure it will be into 2022. In other words, time enough for an elephant to gestate and deliver a baby.
But the real question is why has my brain gone off the rails like this? I think that I constantly find myself in some kind of time warp, unlike any I have ever experienced. As such, I try to liken it to some known event. I have failed. I used to compare the length of this trial to my own pregnancy. But I guess should have thought instead of my paternal grandmother who had my father and his younger brother 13 months apart. Yep. 22 months in all.’
As the numbers soar and people scream at nurses that they can’t be dying of covid because it isn’t a real illness (a nurse in South Dakota) and the “leader” of my country keeps saying he won an election he lost, I feel that I have indeed gone down the rabbit hole and am living among the Red Queen and her minions. And all I can see is the white rabbit running around with that big watch ranting about the time. And all I can think about is the line from Chicago: “does anybody really know what time it is?”
When I was in the seventh grade I won a dance contest in the seventh grade/eighth grade couple event. I have no idea why Ralph asked me to dance, nor did I know that he could move on the floor, but he did and we did! I have always had a very soft spot in my heart for that song. I was thrilled to find a video of it, along with a photo of the singer.
I was contemplating how often timing is the missing factor in so much of our lives. We have great ideas and plans, but the timing may be off. I remember back to 1980. I was tired of being a broke single mom and a man proposed not only marriage but a house, a 1969 Chevy convertible and a good income to boot. I accepted. But deep in my gut I knew I was making a mistake, and I called off the wedding.
The right timing didn’t arrive until another six years of being a broke single mom. By then the man who is now my husband was available. He had no house, a broken down Toyota and an income after child support not much bigger than mine. And two and a half years later we married. It was the right man and the right time, and many years later we now have a house, two decent cars and a reasonable income. “All in good time” is a phrase much bandied about, but it can be true.
“Fools rush in,” as I nearly did in 1980. I like to remember that “good things come to those who wait.”
To those friends who follow our dear Arlene in the Philippines: She is ok after the Typhoon that hit there on Thursday. I hadn’t seen any posts and was worried. She replied to me that she was flooded with water half way up her legs inside the house. Her car was flooded and towed though still covered by insurance. She suffered terribly in a typhoon some years ago too. I know she would appreciate prayers from some and loving thoughts from others.
Thinking about competition and winning and losing, I thought back to my two very different experiences with gym teachers. Mr. Graven was my teacher throughout elementary school. Mrs. Allen ran the physical education program at my high school
For Mr. Graven sports were for fun with competition playing a minor role. All the girls in the seventh and eighth grade were on the school teams, both volleyball and softball. I was short, not particularly skilled, and pretty nearsighted. Nonetheless I played with heart in both sports. Mr. Graven used to take me out of rotation every time I got to the front row in volleyball, wisely realizing I was more likely to walk under the net than to get the ball over it. I was a pretty good batter, but a pretty mediocre fielder. Right field was perfect. At the end of the eighth grade I got a letter in recognition not of my ability but about my playing to the best of what ability I had. I didn’t feel patronized, but grateful that he had seen me.
High school athletics, run by Mrs. Allen, were a different matter. Team sports were just for boys. Gym class seemed aimed at shaping our bodies to cultural standards. We actually did one exercise where we chanted “we must, we must, we must build our bust” and another to the tune of “go you chicken fat go.” Our teacher wore a skirt and nylons and yelled at us to work harder. I learned that our bodies were unacceptable and needed improvement. Needless to say, I came to hate exercising.
As those of you who have followed me for some time realize, I eventually came to love exercise for the way it makes me feel. As I work out in my “home gym,” I often experience the same joy I felt with Mr. Graven. It is good to move with the body I have, not the one that Mrs. Allen would have approved of.