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Safety Pins and Fish Hooks

When asked to write an article on fishing I pondered about what I could write. Not being an expert on every aspect of fishing makes it a difficult subject. I do know fishing brings back childhood memories for many of us. I ponder back on fishing before all the strict Fish and Game Laws (or if they existed we didnít know about them) and think of those six inch trout fried crisp for breakfast. The entire clan of family, friends and relatives assisted in packing a picnic lunch, diapers, jars of koolaid, fish hooks, twine and dry clothing for tots. The hike commenced from our home, down the hill and several miles of stumbling along the river bank.

We eventually settled in the tall grass near a favored fishing hole and begin the endless battle of swatting those famous Alaskan Mosquitoes. Occasionally a toddler would fall in the river and someone would fish them out. Excited youngsters screamed, yelled, tossed rocks and splashed into the water. Mothers attempted calling them back with warnings about scaring fish away. Eventually things settled down and it was time to cut fishing poles from the nearby willow. Twine was tied to the willow pole and several flat rocks used to pound sinkers on. Having cured our own fish eggs, bait was not a problem except when it came to staying on the hook. Parents spent endless hours rebaiting hooks and replacing snagged hooks. Occasionally willow poles floated down stream and had to be replaced. If the weather was suitable for a camp fire over zealous children sometimes converted their fishing poles to a marshmellow sticks. This meant creating a new fishing pole after lunch. Barefoot children waded gingerly in the gravel stream bed trying to find a fallen log with a school of trout nestled under it. The lucky children caught larger Dolly Varden or Rainbow and proudly showed them off but these were not the prize catch for consumption. It was those small guys we wanted to eat. Older children and adults tried their luck at catching salmon. By the end of the day we had a bucket or a long willow branch full of trout. No law enforcement officer came to tell us we were too far upstream, over the bag limit or the fish were under legal size.

These fishing excursions often led to story telling. My cousins and I were fascinated with stories of fishing for trout with bacon for bait, small rocks for sinkers and safety pins for hooks. Of course the stories mentioned more fish were caught in the olden days using primitive implements. My cousins and I stored this information away in our minds for future use. As soon as we were mature enough to meander from home on our own we armed ourselves with pocket knife, twine, bacon, hotdogs, pieces of salmon and other items of interest to be used for bait. Daily trips were made to the river. Using primitive items required intensive labor and serious thought but we were a determined lot. Our first venture turned out a total failure but still we persisted with this venture at every opportune moment. Needless to say not one trout was caught the entire summer. Today Iíve come to this conclusion, either we didnít fish with the tide or this story was told to us because it was told to our parents who in turn tried this primitive method and failed. The end result being no one ever wants to admit they never caught a with a safety pin! I tried this story on my children but being modern children they failed to attempt this ludicrous endeavor. Ah well perhaps my grandchildren?

When I asked my Mother, Eleanor Beatty for the truth about catching fish with safety pins, she replied, "We never really caught any fish but we had lots of fun trying." I then asked her who told her about using safety pins and bacon for trout fishing she responded, "My uncles of course!" Alas it is just as I thought.

Next I asked Sharlott Richardson Curtis about catching fish with safety pins. She told me she and her siblings caught a few very small trout with safety pins. They also caught a few with peanut butter but she was sure it was because the peanut butter glued the mouth of the fish closed. She went on to tell the following story in her own words.

Yolandaís Big Fish

One Fatherís Day while fishing out at Bishop Creek Yolanda cast her line and sunk her hook into the biggest fish of all. The hook snagged into the inside of my upper lip. I grabbed the line and ran for Mom and Dad. Since there were no available Doctorís or a Hospital in the area my Dad (George Richardson) held me down and my Mother (Delcie Deitz Richardson) covered my eyes. Someone pushed the hook through my lip and out. They snipped the barb off the hook with tin snips just under my nose and then pushed the hook back into my mouth. By this time I was yelling as they washed the open wound with fiery hot whiskey. Just thinking of the horrible smell of that whiskey and the hot burning sensation makes my eyes water to this day. The family never allows Yolanda to forget the biggest fish of all.

By: Sharlott Richardson Curtis

Sharlott and Yolanda are some of Agrefena's Children

Copyright 1996

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