Sunday, May 31, 2009

Noodling and River Monsters

Burkhard Bilger's Noodling for Flatheads is about noodling, obviously, and some other largely southern pastimes. I'm going to bet, though, that he never caught or saw anything near the likes of this bad boy. I have had great fun and edification from Animal Planet over the years, me and my kids, but never more than the recent River Monsters.

My brother's friend Ronnie spent a week or so with me once acting the part of big brother while mine was gone, sometime in the late 70s, I'm guessing, so I was eight or nine or so, and we spent a long early fall day pulling deadfalls out of Seeley Creek and hand-searching through great sodden heaps of leaves stuck in the slow-moving water, negotiating the bob-wire fences a few over-industrious (one might charitably call them pricks) land-owners had spread all across the water and into the water, honestly, where they rusted, making you lift them up and swim-crawl under. Not great fun, but fun, including the barbs I took in the hand that got me the first of many tetanus shots. I can never remember the date of the damned things, so I get them every five years or so. Anyway, we found fence-posts and tire rims in the water, several tires, too. A couple traps (not set, thankfully), a chain, some fishing line. No fish.

I've always wanted to noodle since then, though, even before I knew what it was. I was first to stick my hands up under the tree roots that jammed into the stream, the first to fuck around in the occasional clay beds, making penises both gross and abnormal. I even named them: Cowprick, Horseprick, Dogdick are the names I remember.

We finished with the creek pretty early then took on the farmpond in the field in front of our place, where I used to house my pet ducks. I mean, what was in that water, after all? This was long after the ducks had been smacked down and flattened in the road, but the car hood they'd sheltered under was still there. Ronnie and I lifted it up and unearthed a nest of sixty or seventy snakes who had taken up residence in the relative cool. I'm shuddering even now.

I'll tell you a a secret--isn't that what blogs are for?--I've hated snakes ever since. But somebody needs to get my pasty white ass in a river soon. I want a catfish.


Rosie said...

I love noodling. I love the idea of it, going after these prehistoric fish caveman style. But I'm real respectful of cats--the salt water ones I grew up around are vicious and all of them can stick a fin straight through your hand. And don't get me started on water moccasins.

My elderly friend came across a nest of mating snakes in the creek once and it scarred her for life.

Rusty said...

I've been finned a few times. It hurts. I've never seen a moccasin, though I have seen rattlers and copperheads up close. Those big blunt heads on a rattlesnake make me skeevy.

Snakes in general--bleh.