Sunday, June 18, 2023

Fishing with My Father

Today is not only Father's Day, it's also National Go Fishing Day.  I figured I could cover them both by writing about fishing with my father.  Brilliant, right?

Daddy used to like to fish for bass, but I wasn't that crazy about eating bass.  I liked fishing for catfish.  There's something about catfish and the steaklike texture of the fillets that I just love.

Since we were freshwater fishing in Florida, we would catch mud cats, apparently more properly known as flathead catfish.  They're scavengers that live on the bottom of creeks and rivers, ergo the mud in their nickname.  I don't remember what we used for bait, but the Wikipedia page about them says live bait is preferred, so it may have been small fish or possibly worms.

One of the interesting things about catfish is their skin.  They don't have scales.  Instead their skin is kind of like leather.  Like scales, you don't eat it.  Unlike scaling a regular fish, however, it's necessary to peel off their skin.

That was something I always left to my father.  I had a great time going out fishing with him, and I was always happy when we caught catfish.  But he was in charge of skinning them.

The way he did it was to nail the catfish's head to the porch and then, wearing heavy gloves, use pliers to peel the skin off the body.  I freely admit it was not something that I wanted to do.

Then we would have yummy catfish fillets for dinner.  I think my mother lightly fried them.  They were always delicious.

Another fun thing about catfish is that I was always told that their spines are poisonous.  I don't think it's supposed to be enough to actually kill you, unless maybe you're just a little kid, but I guess enough to make you sick.

One time when we had catfish for dinner, my brother was put in charge of taking the trash out afterward.  The spines and nasty bits of the catfish were on the bottom of the trash bag.  He took the bag out, dumped it upside down, and mashed it down so that the trash can lid would close — and stuck himself with a catfish spine.

He ran into the house screaming, blood spurting out of his hand.  My mother, who didn't deal well with blood in general and especially not her children's blood, became hysterical.  I had to tell my sister to get her out of the room because she was just freaking out.  I got my brother to sit down and I bled out the wound as best I could.  And now that I think of it, I don't remember my father being there.  Hmm, where was he?

I also don't remember if my brother went to the doctor the next day or did anything to follow up, but he didn't get sick, so I guess I did a decent job (or maybe the spines aren't actually poisonous after all).  He developed a small lump in his palm where the spine had stabbed him, and years later he finally had to have it removed.

photo by Bébéranol

Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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