Sunday, April 13, 2003

Mom's not chummy with fish

by Kristen Twedt


Fishermen's tales run the gamut of fiction, from pond stories of gargantuan bass to high seas adventures with whales. But not this one. What I am about to tell you is true, so help me, or my name isn't Kristen "Bream Buster" Twedt.


My husband instigated our most recent fishing trip with, "Why don't you book us a cabin for the weekend?"


The four of us packed enough gear and snack food for a family of 20 and headed to a Mississippi state park. The placid lake dotted with dogwood and wild azaleas along its banks sparkled with rose-colored reflections in the twilight. There was no hint of the evil that lay in wait.


We learned last year at the very same venue that bread is the bait of choice for bream. You woo the fish by sprinkling the surface with a few crumbs or a couple of loaves, depending on who's in charge of the bread bag. My son informed me this is called "chumming" - a baffling term, considering that you intend to yank the little suckers up by their lips, gut them, fry them and eat them. With chums like that, who needs enemies?


Mom in charge


Things were going great, which means nothing was required of me but watching. Then, we ran low on bait.


"I'll run to the store for some bait, er, bread," called my spouse over his shoulder. "I'LL BE RIGHT BACK."


May God filet and broil me in butter if those very words haven't caused me more trouble than "I DO." Our minivan hadn't reached spitting distance from the parking lot (trust me, I know) when all of the sudden, the fish launched their assault.


"MooOOOOOOoommmm, I got another one! GET IT OOOOFFFFFFFF!!!!" my daughter squealed.


In case you didn't know, fish are slimy. They have buggy little eyes and spiny fins and they really don't take too well to visits on dry land. No sooner did I get my hand wrapped around one despicable creature and tug the hook from its mouth than my son shouted, "Me, TOOOOO!"


Flying fish


As I popped the lid on our laundry detergent bucket, a.k.a. holding tank, I discovered something else about fish. They can fly. One of those bream blasters shot out of his tank, quickly followed by another. Fish flapped, kids screamed, and the park warden arrived asking something about reaching my limit. Wasn't that obvious?


The scene was unlike anything you'll ever see in Field and Stream. I recaptured the escapees and taught my kids some clever outdoorsy lingo. Our camping trips are nothing if not educational. Meanwhile, a dog ate our last slice of bait.


Then, sinister snickers echoed from the liquid depths of the lake. Prominently displayed near the water's edge was a stack of gift certificates to a free, all-you-can-eat catfish buffet. There was something "fishy" about the water-stained documents. The temptation to snatch them was overpowering. Then it hit me.


We had almost been chummed.



Return to our Featured Writers