When we bought this 160 acres, the only pond on the place was little more than
a puddle. Early on we constructed a large pond and stocked it with fingerling
bass and blue gills. During supper several years later, my nonfisherman
husband, said, “I’ve a surprise for you.” “What is it?” I asked. “I
bought $60 worth of half-grown catfish today and put them in the pond.” I
gulped. It took courage to fake my appreciation for this gift! However, years
later we had fun with his ~gift fish.
Logan Pigg, one of my favorite neighbor boys, loves to fish. One October day
he caught a 19-inch catfish and four others, slightly smaller. It was almost
dark when he came from the pond lugging those five big cats. “Sue, will you
dress my fish for me?” he begged, plaintively. “No-o-o, Logan, take them
home and your dad will help you skin them.” His dad was in Canada. His mom is
a talented quilter but she’s not into butchering fish.
One thing I knew: I didn’t want those fish back in my pond! I suggested, “You
can take them down to the pasture pond.” Because it was pitch dark, I
relented. “Logan, you can release them in the swimming pool and fish them
out, later.” He released them as I suggested.
We almost forgot about Logan’s fish. That winter we floated logs in the pool
to prevent freeze/thaw damage to the concrete but we saw no sign of Logan’s
fish. Our grandsons scattered fish pellets on the ice and once cut a hole and
put in food, but there was never any movement of the water. We assumed the
catfish were dead.
In April our daughter, Nancy Russell, was helping us pump the pool water out
with a sump pump while her Sam and his friends hiked in the woods. We had
decided, for sure, that Logan’s fish were dead. When the water was ankle deep
Nancy screamed and said, “One just hit my foot!” I ran to get some gloves.
As I returned the hikers came from the woods and I called Logan’s mom: “Bring
Logan,” I said. “We’re draining the swimming pool.” But Logan couldn’t come
because he was playing soccer.
I filled a 5-gallon bucket with pool water. John Hartley and Tim Murray,
wearing gloves, were grabbing for fish but couldn’t catch them, of course. I
borrowed the gloves and showed them a technique called “hogging” fish, which
Dad had shown me although it wasn’t legal. Gently touch a fish and gradually
stroke it as you move your hands forward on its body. You put one thumb into
the fish’s mouth and a finger in its gill. Then lift it out of the water. On
the first try, I got one and placed it in the bucket.
Out it flopped, back into the pool! I learned to use less water and the boys
learned to “hog” fish. Soon all five fish were in the bucket, ready to be
released into the pasture pond.
“Gee, that was fun!” one kid said. “Yeah,” the other boy said. “Hey,
let’s dump ’em out and catch ’em again.” They did, over and over, until the
fish were tired. Then Nancy said, “OK, guys. That’s enough! Take them to the
pasture pond. The food will be ready by the time you get back.” They released
the five tired fish into the pasture pond, where they’ve lived happily ever
We’re just sorry that the guy who first caught those catfish missed all of the
fun of retrieving them from their winter quarters.