Fish Story

Someone named Ray did a post at Duckworks magazine about his restoration of a 1946 Sears and Roebuck outboard motor that brought back memories:

When I was in grade school we used to spend the entire summer at the edge of Flax Pond:

DSCN0009Here, in Brewster, Mass, on Cape Cod at:

DSCN0019One of my big delights was spending most days with my friends tooling around the pond in the eight-foot pram my dad had built. Most of the time we rowed. But we did have an outboard motor, too. It was just like this one:

Elgin02s

I think it was about 1.5 h.p. and it was very heavy for a skinny kid of eight or nine years old to put on and off the boat which was one of the reasons I didn’t use it very often. Another reason was that you had to wrap a starter line around the spool at the top and pull as hard as you could to start the thing. It took three or four pulls on a good day for anyone to get it running.

While the other ponds in the park, Higgins and Cliff in particular, had been stocked with trout, Flax had a collection of pan fish, mostly yellow perch and a catfish everyone referred to as “horn pout.” There were also the occasional small-mouth bass to be had, but they were rare.

My mom loved to fish. It was one of her great passions, and she and I would often venture off in the night to go across the pond to where there was an excellent fishing hole about a mile away from our camp site. It was an excellent hole for horn pout which we loved to have for breakfast along with a stack of pancakes filled with blueberries picked from bushes just steps away from the tent my younger brothers and I shared.

One night my mom and I went out on a trip to our “secret” hole. Naturally we used the outboard to get there. We’d been doing quite well and had about gotten our limit when my mom got a hard strike on her line. “Oooo,” she said, “I think I’ve got a bass.” In the moon light I could see her rod had a big arc in it and the tip nearly touched the water. My mom patiently played her line back onto the reel and finally got the fish up to the surface. And then its head broke water and kept coming and coming and coming. It was a large eel and way too much like a snake for my mom. There was absolutely no way she was going to bring it into the boat with her. Instead, she wrapped the starter cord around the engine spool and with one single, never to be repeated pull of the cord, brought that stubborn engine to life and dragged that poor eel across Flax Pond, drowning it in the process.

My dad cleaned it in the morning, along with the horn pout, but except for him, nobody else would try it. Of course he also liked tripe which he would cook just for himself a couple of times a year, too.

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