The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Fish Have Brains Too

By Alvin M. Scott © 1986

Issue: July, 1986

For centuries mankind has caught fish and devised ways to catch more fish. The Bible speaks of fishermen, their catching and their not catching fish.

Industries have been founded in the manufacture of everything from the clothes we wear, the boots, and everything in between, to the fanciest lures to the simple cane pole and hook. That has caused the personal sacrifice of many a tasty cast iron frying pan of golden brown fish.

I, too, must confess as having wasted many hours working, when I could have used this time in a more useful manner to build my thought power, rest my body, mind and spirit and at the same time contribute to the family larder by fishing and catching fish!

So what does he eat? At what time does he eat? What must the PH and the temperature of the water be? At what position must the moon be? What color and kind of clothes must I wear? These questions and many others enter the fisherman's mind as he tries to outsmart that special big ole fish who eats a lot of something to have grown this big. But he won't bite a hook!

I had heard of such a fish in a farm pond near Siler City, NC, as luck would have it, on posted land! No Hunting, No Fishing, No Trespassing signs   on every fence post. Actually, it wasn't much of a fishing pond, when I got to see it under the pretense that I wanted to buy the landowners cattle, and as he showed me his cattle I looked at his pond. Brush and vines and trees grew right to the waters edge. The only way to get to the pond was a cow path the cattle used to go in and out to drink.

I asked the farmer, "Any fish in that ole pond?" "Nope," was his reply, "the neighbors caught them all out 25 years ago when I first opened it to fishing. After the boys in the neighborhood caught them all out, I posted the land so people wouldn't break down my fences and leave my gates open. I found out the best policy is to post the land and shoot trespassers." "A real good idea," was my reply.

I explained to the farmer about the cattle being too good to ship west to our customers in Texas, so probably the best thing was to sell them at auction at the Carolina Stockyards here in Siler City. There are several out of state buyers who come to the auction every Friday looking for high quality cattle. This seemed to satisfy the farmer and I went on my way.

The thought of that big ole bass just wouldn't leave my mind, each day I grew hungrier and hungrier for bass steak!

But how to catch him? And on posted land! I did my homework! I asked around, found out this land owner always slept late on Sunday morning and never got up before 11: 30 on Sunday morning. Went to church on Sunday night!

The next Sunday morning before light, my wife drove me out and dropped me off at the woodsy side of the posted land farm pond. "Be back at 10:30 sharp honey, if I don't get in the car the second you stop here at 10:30 sharp, drive on and call the insurance man, you will be a rich lady! Tell the children and grandbaby that Daddy gave his all trying to provide fish for the table!"

I had worked my way through the tangled vines, briars and brush to the pond. As I sat down and leaned back on an ole tree, I noticed another tree had fell and part of the tree trunk was in the pond and part was lying on the ground, then I noticed a hickory nut on the log at the waters edge. My inquiring mind tried to reason out, "how can hickory nut fall out of a tree, land on a log and not bounce off?"

As I baited my hook with red worms, a gray squirrel scampered down the log, picked up the hickory nut and began to eat it!

The big old bass in this farm pond had been here for 28 years and never worked a day in his life, as fish don't have to work. He had eaten, gained about 2 pounds per year and grew fat and big and think, yes, he had plenty of time to think and watch fishermen catch other fish. Our big bass watched and learned from fishermen and the mistakes of other fish.

As the squirrel ate the hickory nut on the log at the water edge, the light grew bright as the sun began its daily climb of our beautiful Carolina blue sky.

In a flash of light and a big splash of water, that 50 pound plus bass leaped across the fallen log, grabbed the squirrel and down he went into the dark water of the ole farm pond.

I was shocked, stupefied and mortified at his size and the aggressive way in which the fish had caught the squirrel.

As I sat there on the bank, I could hardly believe what I had seen   and then I wondered how I would ever be able to tell this story so that other people could believe it!

After a moment of quiet the big bass came swimming back, he had a hickory nut in his mouth, he eased up to the log and in the same spot as before, he spits out the hickory nut on the log!

He was baiting that log for another squirrel!!!