More than fabulous rods and reels, a common pole and hook lets you go fishing, and people love to fish. At the tender age of 10, I used to go with my friends down on the Des Moines River. We liked to catch night crawlers with our hands and put them in muddy dirt cans. Or we used white bread balls for bait, cramming them on a hook. We tied the hook on regular string and put the string all on a cut willow pole. Sometimes we caught catfish. We never ate them but instead put them in a bucket, hauling them home to show off. I think the neighbors’ cat was their biggest fan.
When we got to New Mexico, I had never fished in a stream, whipping the fishing line in the air over and over; and I fell into the stream often, so I gave up on that. It was never New Mexico’s fault. We have fine trout streams and great lake fishing as in Elephant Butte for bass and walleye. My husband Bill has taken all the grandchildren fishing from a boat with Rio Grande Guide Service under the auspices of Captain Billy Jack, who has found fish for all five of the grandkids and their Grandpa Bill. Safety when you use a boat is paramount: Everyone wears a vest.
Bill, my husband of 49 “Happy” years and my oldest son Will have recently gone to fish in Alaska. By the time this is printed, they will be back. Two years ago, they went, returning with 180 lbs. of frozen fish. Just the week before last we finished the last of the salmon. Do buy fish at any decent fishmonger; we have a fine one here at Smith’s. However, tasting fresh fish from our streams, freshly caught, or fish flash-frozen from the Pacific is unbelievable. It is worth the time and effort.
Bill got up at 2:30 a.m. He had to meet our son and go to the airport, leaving enough time to be frisked and vetted. The airplane ride to Salt Lake City and on to Sitka is a far step. When they come back, hopefully with fish, it will be in four 50-pound boxes. When they speak of “bag drag,” they mean it. After 33 years of flying from airport to airport all over the world, Bill is used to it. And it means fish for two years. I am just surprised that Bill likes to go on any boat on any water.
OK, he’s out of town, so I can tell this. Fighter pilots must be able when the plane fails to “jump out” landing on land or… the news… water. Bill White can not swim. He went through water survival training, but he is after all, a native New Mexico boy. He has taken swimming classes. Let’s just say it is not his best talent. When he went a few years or decades back, which included dumping him out of a helicopter into Elephant Butte lake, he splashed down, pulled the cords on his life vest, and dog paddled until they picked him up. Ta Da!
The next day he went to a movie that had just come out. I didn’t go because I was pregnant with Tom, our youngest son. I didn’t feel like the smell of buttered popcorn. It was June 20, 1975. Bill had bought the largest popcorn, a giant drink and some mint chocolates in his shirt pocket. He was just getting into the show when a giant Shark called, JAWS, came out of the water and consumed several people. The fighter pilot extraordinaire, the father of almost two sons, the man who survived the water of Elephant Butte, gave a start, tossing popcorn behind him over three to four rows. He was good to tell us.
I bid him goodbye on his fishing trip and started making a list of what to do on my vacation time. The top of my list was “control of the remote,” The dog will love me best now that I give extra treats. And crossed off my list is sneaking shark repellent in Bill’s duffel bag. Roaring Mouse. Snicker, snicker, snicker… out.