In the old days people thought little girls should not do some things, like go fishing. I didn’t pay any attention to that nonsense and went fishing anyway.
I had seen men with fancy rods and reels, but I only had some line, a couple of fish hooks and a can of lively red worms, which I had dug by the corner of the manure pile. With these I set off down Miller Road, walking past the trout fishermen on the Coginchaug River, heading to the bullhead pond.
The bullhead pond was just a swampy spot, its dark, still waters covered with duckweed. I put a worm on the hook and lowered it over the side of the culvert and waited. Waiting, you know, is a big part of fishing. While I waited, I watched woodpeckers come and go, rata-tat-tatting on dead trees. I watched bullfrogs leap at dragon flies and miss, falling back into the water with a clumsy splash. I watched turtles crawl cautiously up on logs and stretch out to bake in the sun.
Now and then I felt a tug, tug on the line between my fingers. Crouched like a lion stalking a gazelle, I held my breath until-snatch! I pulled back on the line and set the hook. The bullhead fought back, first swimming toward the turtle log, then into the culvert but I held on and finally pulled him in. Who says girls don’t go fishing?
As I walked home with my bullheads that afternoon, some men by the bridge asked to see them. We now played the Fisherman Game, which is mostly about lying. Since everyone knows everyone else is lying, it’s not as bad as regular lying.
“So, did you get anything?” I asked them, knowing they didn’t.
“No, had some good bites, though.”
Fishermen always say they had some good bites.
Next they were going to ask where my fishing hole was.
“So where did you catch ‘em?” one asked.
Now I was supposed to not tell them, which I did not.
“In the pond over by Lyman’s” I answered.
They nodded, knowing darn well I didn’t catch my bullheads there. You never give away your secret fishing hole to random strangers.
Back home I cleaned the fish and we had bullheads for dinner. They were sweet and good.
Sometimes, for no good reason, people say you shouldn’t do a thing-like girls going fishing. Sometimes the best way to fix this is to just go do the thing, and do it well.
(This story goes in Magic Barn, volume two. Magic Barn volume available from Amazon here.)