I’ve learned how to bait a hook… and, I’ve learned how to take the catch off… but, I’ve never learned how to clean a fish. At 41, I don’t really relish learning now.
Fishing, for me, is synonymous with being at the lake. I’m not a fisherman at heart and the only place I enjoy it is here. I’m not into all the fishing doodads… just a simple rod and reel and a bucket of big, fat nightcrawlers.
I watched my girls get into fishing this week. They could tell you exactly how many fish they have caught… roughly in the tens of thousands, probably. And, since I’ve never learned to clean a catch, they had to throw them all back (which means they probably caught the same three fish over and over and over again).
I used my skills of baiting a hook and releasing the catch over and over again… especially Friday morning. For some reason, known only in the underwater world, it was a good morning to catch fish. As I stood on the dock with the girls, I realized I could do a lot of things for them but I couldn’t clean their catch.
My Dad can. My Mom can. My brother can. My man can. I think even my sister can. It’s not that I can’t… it’s more that I won’t. Cleaning fish is Bud’s job.
My grandfather, Bud, cleaned many a fish in his lifetime. He was a man of few words who enjoyed life a slow pace. But, boy, when we kids came in with a mess of fish, he would spring into action… giving us all directions…
“Get that yellow bucket out there”
“Now, ask your Grandma for a clean bowl of water”
“Go to the kitchen and get a couple’a spoons to scale these fish with”
“Take that out to the fish table”
“Find me some newspaper for this table”
“I need my filet knife”
“Dig a hole on the side of Grandma’s pink rose bush for those fish heads”
“Make sure you save those fish eggs”
“Take this bowl of cleaned fish into your Grandma and she’ll fry ’em up for us!”
And, because Bud cleaned the fish, I never had to learn. I think for him it was easier to do it than to explain it in detail to me over and over again. I was okay with that. He had the yucky job. All I had to do was do his running for him… carrying buckets and bowls of clean water, finding newspaper and utensils and then digging holes for fish heads when we were finished.
The best part, though, was that by the time the fish heads were buried, Grandma had a whole mess of lake fish fried up and ready for us.
…I did learn how to do that.