Friday, August 9, 2013


   When I was a youngster I grew up with a fishing pole in my hand. And fishing rods, as well. And dreams of catching a fish so big that it’s belly sagged when you held it posing for a photo.
    At the beginning of each month, I’d head to the barber shop to get my monthly haircut. First a plain ol’ buzz cut. Later a flat top. Longer styles in my late high school years. But that’s not why I did monthly trips to the barber.
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    The barber had subscriptions to a half dozen outdoor magazines - Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Fur Fish Game and others. I’d be there hoping for a crowd so there would be a long wait and occasionally, I’d hang around after being “barbed” to thumb through the remaining pages.
    While many of my friends dreamed of becoming a major leaguer, rock and roll star or top flight golfer, my dreams were spawned by the pages of those magazines.
    So was my imagination. I may have been holding my cane pole down at Mert’s pond catching six-inch bullheads; in my mind I was in Florida planning to catch a 10 pound or bigger largemouth bass. When I switched to a fly rod to angle up stunted bluegills or crappies at Mingle’s pond, my mind was in the Rocky Mountains fishing for native cutthroat trout.
    But of all the dreams I gleaned from all the flashy photos, the pictures that fueled my imagination the most was those depicting giant lake trout, huge northern pike and even beer-belly bass so big that when the proud angler held them, their belly sagged! Oh, to catch a fish so big it had a saggy belly.
    Now, older, well traveled, well fished, I’ve caught fish with saggy bellies. I’ve helped others catch them as well. When someone catches a big fish on the Brother Nature, I encourage them to grip the fish, head and tail, allowing the monster to sag a little, hopefully a lot, and put a grin on my face and a boyish dream in my head.