Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's a Keeper

It was scorching hot this morning, so I decided to stay in the air-conditioned truck as much as possible. Luckily I have many small ponds in the urban areas of my territory I could drive around and check. So, I set off to find some anglers before the sun had a chance to scare everyone off.

I came upon a pond in a housing development where a few people were fishing. Of course, I always like to watch for a while first to make sure I know who was fishing and who wasn't. There looked to be a father/son team fishing on one side of the pond. Dad was baiting the hook and helping the boy cast. It wasn't long before the bobber took a dive and the boy reeled in a really (and I mean really) small bluegill. Dad removed the fish and tossed it back into the water. Definitely not a keeper.

My attention shifted to the other side of the pond where an elderly man was sitting in a lawn chair holding onto a rod- line in the water. He was a "cute" old guy- kind of round, with a baseball cap smooshed onto his head. I hate to say it, but he was even sporting some plaid shorts. It felt like I was watching a Norman Rockwell painting.

Suddenly the old boy's bobber disappeared, he set the hook and pulled up a fish that rivaled the size of the one caught by the young boy on the other side of the pond. Tiny. But, instead of throwing it back, he threw it into a five gallon pail next to his chair. I watched him do this about three more times- the fish never bigger than a child's hand. Now, there is nothing illegal about what he was doing, I just thought it was strange that he was keeping such small bluegills. It looked like an awful lot of cleaning for such tiny fillets.

The sun broke over the rooftops of the houses and the air heated quickly. The old guy was calling it quits. He packed up his stuff and started walking around the sidewalk that surrounds the pond. He was walking in my direction, so I decided to wait until he got closer before getting out to check his license (no need to sweat if it can be helped right?)

Just as he came up to where my truck was parked I got out and started chatting with him. He was a friendly guy- reminded me of my own grandpa. When I asked for his fishing license, he set down the bucket, and a cloth grocery bag he was carrying. I noticed that inside the bag was a half a loaf of Wonder bread. He dug out his lifetime fishing license from his pocket and handed it to me.

"So, did you catch some keepers?" I asked, nodding in the direction of his bucket.

"Oh, no. I'm not keeping those," he said.

"Ummm. Can I ask why you have them in your bucket then?" I asked, trying not to sound like an idiot.

"Well, I'm going to dump them out over there," he said, pointing toward a house on the other side of the pond, "I want to make sure there are fish in front of my house."

"Oh," I said (because what the hell are you supposed to say to that?). I didn't want to sound rude by asking him if he really thought the fish would stay where he dumped them. They do swim, you know.

I gave his license back and watched him continue to his house. Sure enough, he reached the house he was talking about, and dumped his bucket of teeny tiny panfish into the water. Then he sat on the bank and proceeded to rip the remaining half of the Wonder bread loaf into teeny tiny pieces and throw them in the water after the fish. When the loaf was gone, he stood up, brushed the dirt from the back of his green plaid shorts, walked up to his house and went inside.

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. But I decided to laugh-just a teeny tiny bit.


  1. That is a great story. Thanks for sharing. In the story of life, just when you think you got it figured out then something else happens.

  2. Hi Fishcop

    I just found your blog through norcalcazadora 's. Fantastic storytelling. I'll be coming back for more. Best SBW

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog! I love this story.

    I don't blame you about sitting inthe a/c...why sweat when not necessary ;)

  4. Guess you can thank Holly for another reader, as I trailed you over here after seeing your comments on her site... and I'm really glad I did! Great stuff here! I'll be adding you to my blog roll, and look forward to coming back often!

  5. Loved it. You never know though, that old timer might be on to something.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Passinthru Outdoors Blog - Sharing the Passion

  6. Great Blog!!!Great stories :-)

  7. Thanks everyone...I agree-maybe the old boy knows something that I don't. And Phillip- I'll add you too!

  8. Well, everyone's gotta have a purpose, and I suppose moving fish around is better than taking up space in a nursing home :-)

  9. It's not always the hunt that touches people the most...thanks!

  10. Wow, it's okay to move aquatic wildlife around, where you are?

    Where I'm from, if the man were to do the same, he'd face major poaching charges for each fish, massive fines, and likely jail time.

    Our DWR calls them "Bucket Biologists".

    Then again, we've got serious invasive species problems here.

    Good read. Sorry, I'm not trying to make the old fella out to be a criminal. Just surprised that it's legal to do that somewhere.

  11. He was just moving it around within the same pond, so it is basically catch and release. If he had moved it to a different body of water there would have been more of a problem. Thanks for reading my posts!

  12. For some reason I hope the old guy has fish in front of his house for all his remaining days.
    Good Story!