The thing about me. I have had two distinct periods in my life when the pull of catfishing the river has been very strong. The high, or low, times of the first period, when young blood coursed through my veins, I have already related. That period tapered off, and ended, many years ago. All the reasons are hard to put a finger on. As a young boy, we truly needed the wild game I brought in for food. It was that or salt pork, period. After I married, the need began to lessen, but I continued on providing for many years. Then, the pull for wild meat disappeared. I transferred attraction for wild places to wildlife photography, float trips, etc. Then, after I retired, I began to think more about my cat fishing days, and I missed them. I had not yet caught the big one. Three 25 pounders top it out. After much soul searching, I made a deal with my soul. I would not kill it, if it was not going to be used for bait or eaten. Many of my partners are amazed that I will not kill rough fish we catch; just put them back in to steal even more of my bait. And, I would concentrate on big fish. My personal taste for catfish has greatly diminished, so now I give most of what I catch to eager eaters, or save it for the church fish fry.
I often, especially around my grandchildren, use the Indian habit of thanking the fish for giving its life for our food, before dressing it. I have been more successful in my second period, catching more weight, if not numbers, and I have not been skunked, so far. I went through the learning curve a lifetime ago, it seems.
I started writing my stories about my second fishing period, then I realized they were all about me being clumsy, stumbling about, falling in the river, ruining one cell phone after another. Or, getting caught down river in a huge thunderstorm and hunkering down while it rains 2 inches, all because my outdoor senses are now dull. Or, about how my knees ached after a day in a small boat. Nobody wants to read that mess. I threw them away.
The thing about me, though. I just keep going to the wild places until, eventually, a pretty good story comes along.
The thing about Neal Nelson. He just keeps letting me tag along until a good story is created. Such was the case last April.