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August 18, 2013

NOW HEAR THIS: An annual August fishing trip

By LARRY M. JONES

Despite having a half-mile of Brazos riverfront on the “pore farm,” my father rarely went fishing with my brother and me when we were growing up. Instead, we mostly went to the field in the summertime. A fact born largely out of necessity, my father was an extremely hard-working man, rarely taking time off to relax and “smell the roses.” To his credit, it kept the wolves at bay, and we never went to bed hungry.

One exception was an annual fishing trip in August when the crops were “laid by.” Once the fields were hoed and plowed a last time before harvest, we could work on fences, barns, equipment and, occasionally, have a little fun.

When I think of fishing, it is not like what most folks today would regard as fishing. I’m not talking about big bass tournaments or crappie fishing in large lakes. Down on Route One Millsap, we set out trot lines in the river. I admit such methodology isn’t particularly glamorous, but it could be quite effective in putting a mess of fried catfish on the dinner table. I previously inferred the fishing was fun, but I suppose the definition of “fun” can be somewhat relative and subjective. Seining or catching bait, setting out the lines, and baiting them can be very hard work when you do it right. If I had to burn that many calories in the field, I would have griped and protested with passion.

Uncle Leon, my mother’s half-brother, was an old bachelor who lived in Millsap and worked at the Acme Brick plant in Bennett as a manual laborer. He was an honest, hard-working and simple man with simple needs. He loved to fish. Each year in August he would take his week of vacation and go fishing with us. He would buy the finest hooks and line material from Don Price’s Western Auto Store in Mineral Wells and work all year making the fanciest trot lines imaginable. He would put brass swivels on each hook staging and would make a few strong enough to subdue the mightiest yellow cat. He took great care in selecting just the right hook for the job.

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