John’s Note: Creekbanking for cats brings together all the ingredients of the finest outdoor living as it is…
* a solace to be rubbed on the soul of mankind;
* a potion with mystical powers to eliminate worry;
* a time for lying, for remembering and for enjoying the fellowship of good friends;
* an outdoor activity where the catching of a catfish is the excuse for the creekbanking experience, but never the ultimate goal; and
* an adventurous night in the woods and on the water.
On the night of the trip, all the gear was loaded into our station wagon.
When we arrived at the backwater slough where we were to camp, we all gathered firewood while J. Wayne prepared the food.
“I’ll get the grease hot in the Dutch oven, and you boys put-out the jugs,” J. Wayne told us.
With Chris, Steve, JJ, and what looked to be 2,000 jugs – but was probably only 50, I attacked the pond. We baited up with catalpa worms, fiddle worms and even a few red worms. We strung jugs from one end of the slough to another. By the time we put-out the last jug, one of the first bottles was jumping. The boys took turns attempting to land a catfish. Each time a fish was landed, one of the other boys took his flashlight and spotted another moving. By paddling frantically, I would move the boat into position, and the young anglers would check the jug for a catfish.
“Now, when we’ve got five cats, we’d better take them on back and let Mr. Fears start cooking,” I told the boys as the aching muscles in my arms and shoulders prompted me to pray for the jug race to be over. A flat bottomed boat with three boys and one out of shape Dad never seems to go quite fast enough for enthusiastic fishermen. However, finally, arm weary, huffing and puffing, I saw the boys reach their five cat limit I’d imposed. Originally, I had thought that J. Wayne was being the perfect host, volunteering to stay at the camp, preparing the fire, getting the food ready to cook and taking care of our general welfare, while I was enjoying the sport of jug fishing for cats.
But while I was fighting that flat-bottomed aluminum boat with one wooden paddle and trying to keep hooks and fins out of the hands of fledging fishermen, J. Wayne was sitting on the bank, smoking his pipe and grinning much like B’rer Rabbit – snug and secure in his briarpatch. When the fish cleaning ended, the grease sizzled with tasty cats fresh from the pond. After their stomachs were full, the boys listened to some of the yarns being spun by the campfire, of giant catfish dragging jugs through coffee stained water filled their imaginations. They were ready to get back to fishing.
“I’ll stay here, watch the fire and clean up the dishes,” J. Wayne volunteered. “Oh, no,” I said. “You haven’t gotten to have any fun at all – fishing or paddling – since we’ve been here. You’ve had to slave over this fire and prepare all this food. No way. It’s only right that I clean-up the dishes, while you take the boys out for more jug fishing. Shoot, if you’ll stay with it long enough, you probably can catch enough fish for breakfast in the morning, and some for us to take home and put in the freezer.” J. Wayne didn’t look up from his hunkered-down position close to the fire. But after I had so benevolently offered him the opportunity to go paddle the boat while I stayed on shore, he looked-up at me and grinned like the cat that had eaten the canary and gotten caught with a feather in his mouth. He knew that I knew.
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About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.