This article is part 2 of a nostalgic look at fishing in 1970’s Louisiana. Read part 1 here.
Sunday morning was spent at “church.” We would go down to the dock, bait a couple of hand lines. We would then lower the hand lines through the cracks in the dock. The really big fish would rest in the shade, just under the dock. The best way to get to them was to fish through the cracks where the two floating partitions of the dock joined. While Lil’ Brother and I would fish for the Big Ones, Daddy would read to us about becoming “Fishers of Men.” Some of the best times of my life were spent belly down on that old dock, coaxing those big bluegills out with worms and crickets. As I look back on it now, it wasn’t because of the fishing but because of the time spent with Dad and Lil’ Brother.
Recently my dad came to visit. I was in the midst of a major project and wasn’t spending much time with him. Maybe a few minutes in the morning and an hour or so at night, before I passed out from exhaustion. On his last night, I finally got to tell him about the new boat I just bought. About the rods and reels, tackle, and accessories just waiting until we got a chance to go fishing. I told him about the cabin on Toledo Bend that we were going to rent, as soon as I got enough time to go. I told him about how excited the kids were when I had brought home new rods and reels for them, last month. He seemed to enjoy the talk although he seemed very quiet and almost sad.
My dad left that next morning. As we shook hands, he drew me near and presented me with an old box. He whispered, “The secrets to a happy life are in here.” Dad was always a little strange when it came to good-byes, so I just smiled, waved and watched him slowly drive out of sight.
The small box was worn red with a small picture of a man battling a giant bass. Below the picture was the caption “Sunset Marina Toledo Bend Many, Louisiana.” I slowly opened the box and smiled as I became aware of it’s contents. Truly these were the “secrets of life.” In the box was a small bible with a bookmark with Matthew 4:19 printed on it. It had been a while but I did remember, “Follow Me and I will make you Fishers of Men.” Beside the Bible was a small hand line wrapped in a piece of paper with my dad’s handwriting scrawled on it. I unfolded the note and smiled as I read the simple key to a happy life.
“Son, Make time to fish through the cracks.”
Today isn’t just another hot, humid, July day in southwest Louisiana. Not quite the same as yesterday and with almost certainty the same as it will be tomorrow.
“Hey Jon, throw dad another moon pie.”
“Just a minute dad, I think Erin’s got another one.”
“Be careful not to lose him, it’s a little tricky getting ‘em back through the cracks.”
“Was fishing this good when you were a kid?”