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A Fathers Parting Gift (standard:non fiction, 1269 words)
Author: dcastleAdded: Dec 29 2004Views/Reads: 1961/1117Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
This story is about when my father died and what I believe to be his parting gift to my brother and I.

A father's parting gift 

My father taught my brother and I many many things over the years
including how to catch Catfish on trot lines. Amoret, Missouri, 1957. 
I'm seven years old and interested in everything. I watched with great 
fascination as my grandfather and father built a 14 foot long boat out 
of wood using the simplest of tools. It took most of the winter to 

We slid it into the Marais Des Cygnes river that spring and it floated

When propelled by oars, wooden boats can be very quiet as one might
imagine. This of course, is a big advantage when approaching a trot 
line that is heavy with fish. The last thing you want to do is make any 
kind of noise that might spook them. We rarely checked the lines at 
night but when we did we used carbide lights that fastened to your hat. 
They generate just enough light to see the line and the smoke that they 
produced would help keep the mosquitoes away. 

Crawdads have always been our favorite bait. Our father taught us at a
young age how to use nets to seine them from the local creeks and 
slews. When we couldn't get them we used shad sides which stunk so bad 
it made you wish a clothes pin would come with the jar so you could put 
it on your nose. It seemed like it would take a week for the smell to 
disappear from your hands. Dad once told us if you grab a hand full of 
mud along the bank, just under the water line and wash your hands with 
it, the smell will go away immediately. Once again his advice was right 
on the money because it does indeed work. Another one of his tips is to 
hang a catfish ten pounds or bigger from a tree and cut off its tail. 
After all the blood drains, clean the fish like you normally do. This 
will leave you with nice white fillets free of blood which will taste 
better. Catfish taste kind of muddy with a real fishy taste? Soak them 
all night in saltwater with a half a cup of lemon juice. 

Our father took us to the river at least once every year. We would camp
in a small grove of Pecan and Maple trees right on the bank of the 
river. It's a very isolated area and only reachable with four wheel 
drive pickups now. Some of my fondest memories as a child were of the 
three of us sitting around the camp fire after dark listening to the 
coyotes and hoot owls. Sometimes we walk out to a small clearing and 
look at the stars. With no lights around it was absolutely beautiful. 
Late at night, huge catfish would jump up and come splashing back into 
the water making a noise so loud you would wonder if it was a cow 
falling into the river. The anticipation of what might be on our lines 
in the morning made it almost as difficult to sleep as it does for a 
child on Christmas Eve. 

Every morning, like clock work, Snapper Carroll would be sitting on the
bank waiting for us to return from running the lines. Snapper was a 
local farmer and friend of our father's since they were children. The 
two men would sit next to the fire for an hour or two and talk about 
the old days while we listened. Sooner or later, Snapper would get 
around to telling us about his latest coon hunt. I could listen to his 
stories all day and not get bored. 

Our father is gone now but my brother and I still make the trip at least
once a year. We take our sons with us now and in another year or two 
our grandsons will be going. They to will learn all our secrets and the 
thrill of running a trot line. 

Like everything else, modernization has affected our trips. We now bring
along the latest camping gear but there is one thing that will always 
come with us from the early years. My brother and dad bought a brand 
new ten foot aluminum boat at Wards over on St. John and Belmont back 
in 1965 for the total sum of $50.00. It's only ten feet long but I'll 
bet you it has caught more catfish in it's 39 years than a boat three 
times it's size and ten times the price.  My favorite modern  camping 
device has to be the deep fryer that runs on propane gas.  We always 
cut a couple of flathead catfish into filets and roll them in a batter 
of cornmeal, flour, lemon pepper and salt seasoning. and drop them into 
a fryer full of peanut oil. What a beautiful site when the golden brown 
fillets float to the top. Toss in a couple of bags of fries and as they 
say, you're in hog heaven.  I would have to say that my favorite 
cooking utensil from my grandfather's time would be the good old 

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