Gone Fishing

Gary Mentz

You can have all the latest fishing equipment, which costs you hundreds of dollars. But you still need to have the right bait with the right presentation. Fish have a clear idea of what’s worth nibbling, biting, or striking.

If you want to catch fish, you must get the bait right; it’s that simple.

If you are fishing along a river, catching nothing, and your entertainment and fun are draining away, this is what you do. Ask the fisherman that’s catching fish, “What are you using?”

Here is a list of the most unusual items people have used for bait.

* Chicken livers

* Marshmallows

* Pet food

* Hot dogs

* Ivory soap

* Cereal

* Fish eyeballs

* Candy

One summer day, me, my brother Rick, and our friend Billy came up with a fishing bait never used before: a ladies purse. We went to Goodwill and purchased a brightly colored purse so it would be easily seen.

Next, we were faced with the question of where to fish. Just like in real estate, the answer is location, location, location. So we chose Main Street. This road passed through the entirety of our small town of 500.

We tied a string to the handle and then hid the string from people’s sight—I mean, fish’s sight. We ran the string a great distance so we could hide from view, but close enough so we could pull the string at just the right moment.

Some cars stopped immediately, almost suddenly. Then the driver hurriedly approached the purse, followed by a quick reach or grab. We then pulled the string. Sometimes the fish would attempt a second reach for the bait, much to our amusement. Then the fish would look up in embarrassment and get back into their car. To our dismay, some fish would take the purse and place it in their cars. Then we were faced with waiting until Mom went to town for groceries so we could go to Goodwill.

This was great fun; we fished in this way many times. But one day, a forest worker stopped his truck. He was a nibbler; he walked carefully to the purse, then reached in a casual, non-caring way for the purse. As he reached, we pulled the string. He then reached with snake-like reflexes. He grabbed the string and pulled against us. In astonishment, we knew we had caught a bigger fish than we could handle. With the string no longer buried, it pointed directly to us, and at this moment, the very concerned fisherman.

This overly energetic forest worker proceeded to follow the string as if running in the Olympics. We were foolishly using a shorter string than usual, so our hiding place was only 20 yards away. In the blink of an eye, quicker than we could run away, this fish caught me and Billy. Somehow, my brother Rick escaped.

The forest worker had clear words of encouragement for us: “If you ever do this again, I will take you to your parents.” Then he had just one question for us: “Do you understand me?” We eagerly answered in the affirmative and promised we would never do this again. Much like a fish, we were ecstatic to understand he was a catch-and-release fisherman.

I can’t remember if we ever went “people fishing” again or not. One thing I can tell you is that we were never found out in a public sort of way. With our dad being one of the local pastors in such a little town, it was very important that we remained the unknown “fishers of men.”