Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The God Of The Fishes

Time to feed the fish. You ever notice how tough it is when you go out to fish? You throw the line out and the bait hits the water and immediately sinks out of sight. Then it's down there, taking it easy. Not a fish in sight.

I've done that lots of times. Waiting, waiting, waiting, and nothing shows up. At times that's the way it is. So you're sitting there, praying to the God of the fishes that a fish will come along stupid enough to take the bait. But maybe that's why they call him the God of the fishes, because he's on the fishes' side. So nothing.

I used to go out with Grandpa, who was a masterful fisherman. I don't know where he got it. It had to be his nature, that's all. He grew up in the wild, in a tiny speck of a town in Missouri, with a big river in his back yard. So he was probably down there like Huck Finn, communing with the fish, and well acquainted with the God of the fishes. Somehow he got fishing and the success at it in his blood.

By the time I was born, then grew up enough to know what fishing was, he was in his late '50s and early '60s. He had all those years of being a master, and he tried to pass it on to me. Which happened a little bit -- especially when he was with me. He had the idea that farting on your bait was a good thing. I think I mentioned that before.

That of course would make an objective difference to the bait. Unlike other things that would be more in the realm of the superstitious. Like sitting in a particular way, pretending you're ignoring your pole, or praying to the God of the fishes. And it is a well known truth that some fish like "stink bait," so I don't know -- it'd be nice if a present day Grandpa would weigh in on this subject. Mine's dead, but I know that was one of his opinions.

I was checking out the fish in the aquarium. Just passing by. And they're so used to getting fed that they're clustering over by the glass all the time when someone gets near. Especially at feeding time. So they're creatures of habit. And know enough to know when it's feeding time. They're not like they are in the wild, going somewhere else to eat.

Of course they haven't got much choice about what to eat. It's some kind of flaky stuff that lasts forever. Sprinkled out of a can. I think it's dried and flaked worms or some other ex-living creature, plankton maybe. No telling if farting on it would make them like it better. They don't seem to need any additional incentive to take the bait.

That reminds me. And this is a cruel, terrible story. I knew a guy who raised catfish in his pond. He went down there with a bucket of whatever ... to feed them in the morning and maybe in the evening. They came swooping up to the surface and got just like the domestic fish in the tank. It was a sight to see, the swarming. And these were big fish, as big as a newspaper lengthwise.

The cruel part is that whenever he wanted a fish or two to eat, whatever he threw in had a hook in it, and up they came. Never knowing what happened. The God of the fishes in that case must've been on the guy's side. Or the fish themselves had failed their God, not depending on him for their sense, but going off on their own path.

Whatever it is, fish have to eat. Just make sure there isn't a hook in there somewhere. Like fish in the wild do.

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