The Middle Step

All last year I heard stories of how different fishing is when done from a boat. For a first-year fisherman, they sounded exaggerated and fanciful. “Tie two hooks on the line, then catch a fish on each.” “Drop a light in the water at dusk, and you’ll be catching all night.”

Now I haven’t tried the first, but we’ve now done the second a couple times now. This last Saturday was our second time using our new, shiny 180-bulb LED, submersible, don’t-stare-at-it-for-more-than-a-second-or-you’ll-damage-your-eyeballs light. We got tied up to the bridge pylon a bit before dusk, dropped the light, and started fishing.

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Now the point of this fancy light is to start a circle of life. It attracts the brine shrimp, which attracts the tiny pinheads (the tiny fishies pictured above). That in turn attracts larger fish: minnies and crappies and, that night, white perch.

We rigged our lines with little wire hooks and a small weight, put a small minnie on the hook, and let the games begin. While we didn’t get to the point that we would cast out and count to ten before we’d get a bite, we were catching steadily, and that went on all night. White perch mainly. 64 of them to be exact.

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White perch in our lake are an invasive species, and there are signs up saying “Take all you want! No limit!” So we tried our best to oblige, and used them to stock our live well.

After getting home and taking a much needed nap, it was time for the next step in the fishing process, the step that I had yet to participate in. Cleaning the fish. We got me my first fillet knife, the same one Dylan had started with over 20 years ago.

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We got the table set up outside, covered it with plastic, put two cutting boards out. A pole was driven in the ground on the far side with a light hung on it to ensure adequate lighting (it was about 11pm after all). Cooler on the right, trash bag beside it for the scraps, and a bowl of cold water to the left for the fillets.

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Dylan was patient with me, and went over again how the go about cutting the fish up to get the meat out. I’d like to say I got it right the first time, that I’m already a pro and that I didn’t ruin any by accidentally cutting through the backbone. But I can’t. But I can say that I showed some improvement and I didn’t give up, even after my thumb, index, and middle finger all went numb from gripping the knife handle so tight.

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Even with a couple ruined fish and imperfect fillets, Dylan was so proud of me, just in the fact that I was willing to learn and try such a slimy job. As with any skill, it will improve with practice, which means….we need to go fishing.

Well, okay. Twist my arm for that one.

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3 thoughts on “The Middle Step

  1. Practice will get you to be a good fillet-er of fish, just watch that sharp knife. I remember Dylan having a knife like that before he got the electric one, and it’s a good knife. That was a big lot of fish you caught on that trip!

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