Fishing in Public

by “Tackle Box” Billy Kelley
by “Tackle Box” Billy Kelley

Old and on the way

Hey folks. Summer is just rolling along. Too quick for my liking.

Do you ever stop to think how important weather is? What mark it has made in history? It has been decisive in battles and even wars. Just ask the Germans who tried to invade Russia. Or Napoleon. The Russians even have a name for it, Major Winter. Yeah, that’s what they call it.

I have a kinda odd relationship with weather. I never said so before, but I raise flowers in my spare time. So it rains — no fish — but my plants get watered.

Now when I can’t fish I watch the TV. I’m doing that a lot more lately. It’s not that the fish have slowed down, although they will never meet the quota they used to. Used to be you could go right down the State Pier and catch a few a tide, maybe half a dozen if you know what you’re doin’.

Trouble is, I’ve slowed down. A couple years ago ain’t nothin’ keepin’ me off the pier. Especially in September, when I’d get the smaller ones, which I consider a real delicacy. Even their eyes — umm boy. Now you’re talkin’.

But I’m gettin’ old and see more TV. You know I love Nat Geo. Lots of animal shows, like Wicked Tuna. Now I’ve learned that what they do is follow dolphins. Yes, dolphins find their fish for them. Pretty smart, huh? Only thing I don’t like is the way they get ’em — the ol’ harpoon. Jesus Christ, that must hurt like a motherfucker. Just to sell some steaks in Japan.

Another show I enjoy is Life Below Zero. Very good entertainment. But there’s a drawback to that show also: they trap. I myself trapped as a young’un. Woodchucks, to protect our garden. But now I’m older, and sometimes I wonder: Is there kids at home and mom is not coming home to feed ’em? I don’t like trapping.

And, by the way, my catch-and-release program has yet to catch on. I guess part of it is, ironically enough, you need mackerel to catch mackerel. And the bait don’t last long.

So I flip the channel. North Woods Law again (yawn). And now there’s another show about Maine, about worm diggers. Done it myself as a younger lad. It is very hard work. It’s mostly to keep sportsmen down on Long Island happy — Long Island, New York. Catching our stripers.

Flip the channel. It’s a story ’bout Katrina. What a disaster. My pal John says, “Boy, glad it missed us.” But I think he missed the point. If a disaster like that hit us — well, Maine folks would have been out in droves saving lives galore. Because I don’t care what anyone says — Maine folks have a certain quality that don’t exist in other places. It’s nothing I can really put my finger on, but I tell you I’d put Maine folks up against anyone you want. And I been all over. Maine folks would not have been hiding out in a fuckin’ shelter. They would have been saving people.

You know, I have only bought two newspapers in about five years, both within the last month. One was ’cause of those tall ships. Now they were my definition of majestic. I’ll never forget that goddamn sight.

The other paper — well, I really am at a loss of what to say about a governor that wants to shut down treatment centers and actually call out the National Guard. What the fucking hell is wrong with this guy? Being a meth client and living in Parkside, this is certainly making me a bit nervous. Just what is this army supposed to do, march up and down Grant Street? Jesus, never thought I’d see the day.

In the olden days the pirates had a great idea. If someone in the crew was getting too bitchy or just yakking too much they’d simply sew up his mouth. End of the nuisance once and for all. Gee, LePage, remember that, will you?

Well, I’m on my way down to the dock. I’ll almost cry throwing the fish back this time of year. This is the time of small ones. And oh so tasty. Oh well. I meant what I said: catch and release.

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