Family / Sporting Life

Little Boys and Secret Ponds

I just about raised that boy, that’s what he told me. And Richard was a little fellow that kept sneakin in on my pond. I’d chase him off and that rascal would keep comin back to fish. He was sorta like my son back then– after I caught him so many times–and now we go to the coast together every weekend with our wives down at my beach house.

That’s about how the story went when I met Scott. Frankly, Scott’s big feet trawmpin through the woods would be enough to get most men on the move. And when you saw his steel eyes and long ole busted up fingers stretching out to grab, you might shutter. So it goes when little boys sneak in to go fishing. All of us fishermen have a Scott, some mysterious guardian troll of that pristine puddle in the woods. I remember bobbin worms and talking to God when I was a little boy. I’d roll my bike quietly through a trailer park way down the road– a bit farther from home than my momma would ever let me go. Every now and then the solace of a still day would be broken with a shotgun blast. I never saw his face. He never raised a voice or brandished his face. And I’d keep coming back too. I never kept those little bream. I didnt leave my crackerjack boxes out on the ground. I was always ready to run like hell to my bike though and spent many afternoons peddling full spend down the day school road to get the hell out of there- slowing just enough to get home with red colour back in my cheeks.

When we were in high school, some boys from the neighborhood beside my friend’s granddad’s farm had the same story too. And when they all started getting peach fuzz, earning it honest, the tenant overseer shot them as they crawled through barbwire fences. Rocksalt in a four-ten. Right in the ass, they said it stung like hell and they’d never go back. We could fish there with permission on through high school, we had paper permission slips signed that we could show him, we clipped them to our collars so he knew he didn’t have to ride down there. And my buddy displaced the tenant for the little white house out there when his granddad was passing on and he had graduated from state college. We would go down to one of the three ponds, the lower one on the edge of Cedar Grove and find all kinds of bobbers in the trees. That was one hell of a hole to stick rubber worms between downed branches. Some cats-in-the-craddlesk instinct drove us to hunt them out— those little rascally boys. We posted it and stalked it and made loud noises. All that to keep boys from fishing. Seemed like we had forgotten about the times we jumped the high barb wire with our bikes in the bushes to see if they stocked up the cooling pond at the pipeline station.

All boys want to do is fish. Well not really, it takes a special boy to find his way to those little holes. Just to go poachin on a bit of time that means nothing to some. I dont think any of the fellows in the stories we recall had any intention to feed anybody, much less kill a fish. Just poachin on water to challenge the reflections and talk to God for a little while.

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