Saturday, September 4, 2010

Take It To The Limit ...


The following is a true story ... well, mostly true anyhow ... Grandpa DooLittle loved to catch fish more than almost any other activity ... anything except for eating every unfortunate fish that he managed to entice onto the barbed tip of his rusty fishhook ... most times the elderly angler frequented places such as secluded lakes or farm ponds right near to DooLittle Hollar in relentless pursuit of the hapless yet elusive creatures ... he would bring home scads of catfish, bluegill, sunfish and an occasional striped or largemouth bass if lucky, then Grandma DooLittle would patiently and meticulously clean every one of those fish, roll them in flour or cornmeal and fry them up in butter in her huge, cast iron skillet ... Grandpa & Grandma had fish for supper just about every other day, and Grandpa kept the freezer, which sat on the back porch, overloaded with an endless supply of frozen fillets ... but Grandpa had all of a sudden developed an intense "hankerin'" for some fresh, pan-fried trout ... and in order to catch trout he would have to angle the freshwater brooks and streams where golden, brown, rainbow, brook and native trout could usually be found lurking in calm pools or eddies just below rapidly flowing water currents--and where fishing license and a trout stamp were both definitely mandatory ... now Grandpa had never been fainthearted when it came to sidestepping the law a bit now and again, particularly when it positively affected his beloved fishing endeavors, but he figured it might be better to just go ahead and purchase the required license and stamp this time ... just as a precaution ... especially considering the fact that Howard "FeatherFoot" Trotter, the local game warden, had been trying to nab Grandpa for whatever reason, any reason for that matter, for the last twenty-five years ... and although unsuccessful so far in his stalwart efforts, the crusty officer had publicly sworn to never retire until he had nabbed Grandpa DooLittle committing some illegal deed.

Now Warden Trotter loved his job about as much if not more than Grandpa DooLittle loved his fishin' ... Trotter would by no means allow the slightest opportunity to apprehend some unscrupulous game law violator to ever pass him by, even for the most minor of infractions ... his techniques were legendary around those parts ... the inexorable lawman would often spend days or even weeks at a time scouring the woods or stealthily creeping alongside various waterways in the relentless pursuit of "good fer nuthin' lawbreakers" ... donning camouflaged coveralls, Howard would sit motionless for hours perched out on a limb high up in a tree, or hidden in some dense laurel thicket or brier patch anxiously glassing the countryside with his powerful binoculars in hopes of spotting some unwary suspect ... and if you're wondering why Howard was called "FeatherFoot," folks had given him that nickname because of the enormous man's eldritch ability to sneak through the woods across sticks, twigs and dry leaves as silently as a feather floating down onto a thick bale of cotton ... those unlucky enough to have been captured red-handed by Howard Trotter amidst the throes of unlawful acts have all attested that they never heard him coming until it was too late to run and too late to hide ... "FeatherFoot" had always seemed to just supernaturally appear right before their eyes from out of nowhere.

So Grandpa DooLittle rounded up Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt and Ansel Poteet, his two favorite fishin' buddies ... they in turn collected their fishin' gear and gathered their preferred baits and fishin' lures, which respectively included nightcrawlers, mealworms, homemade spinners, hand-tied flies, minnows, cheese balls, a can of corn and Grandpa DooLittle's "secret weapon" consisting of live June bugs dipped in a mixture of lard, butter, cheese sauce and bacon grease ... then they headed to the river and dropped in their lines just as the morning sun crawled above the eastern ridgeline ... the three amigos fished with passionate fervour yet varying results until that same sun began to slowly settle behind the rolling hills to the west ... Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt had been fishing with his fly rod all day, but had caught nothing--his chances made virtually nil due to the fact that he had no fly tied to his line--and nobody had bothered to inform the nearly blind centenarian of that fact ... Ansel Poteet had fared somewhat better, he had two reasonably, good-sized brown trout hanging from his stringer ... but Grandpa DooLittle on the other hand had been yankin' 'em out of the water left and right all day long ... and with the creel limit being eight, each time Grandpa caught that number he would straightaway scurry up to his car, which was parked right next to the gravel road, and hide them ... then at once return and commence to yankin' 'em out again.

Well it was nearly dark and Grandpa had used up all the bait ... so he summoned his pals and together they headed back to the car ... and there stood Game Warden Howard "FeatherFoot" Trotter ... who had been comfortably nestled behind a rotting tree stump the entire time watching Grandpa DooLittle "yankin' 'em out of the water left and right" ... "let me see yer fishin' licenses and trout stamps fellers" he coldly demanded, to which all three fishermen promptly complied ... then "FeatherFoot" smugly enquired "how many fish did you boys land today?" ... Ansel Poteet proudly proclaimed "just two" while Uncle Virgil Hunnicutt shamefully announced "not a nary one" ... the visibly shaken and now quivering Grandpa DooLittle hesitated for a bit as "FeatherFoot" impatiently waited, his glaring eyes seemingly piercing holes in the guilty looking, old man's forehead with his icy stare ... "uh, eight I reckon" was Grandpa's reply ... "is that right? ... then why don't we just have a quick look inside of your vehicle" said "FeatherFoot" with an overly confident and knowing smirk ... there he discovered eight trout hidden beneath the car seat, eight more behind the car seat, eight more underneath the dashboard, eight more behind the spare tire, plastic bags containing eight each beneath each car fender, two stringers holding eight each under the car hood on both sides of the engine, several groups of eight each in various locations concealed beneath the car's undercarriage ... finally Warden Trotter reckoned that he had found all of the hidden fish as he turned and exclaimed "you're in serious trouble DooLittle" ... "I've gotcha now!" ... Grandpa tipped his hat, scratched his bald head and with a look of befuddlement asked "what trouble you talkin' about Mister Game Warden?" ... "FeatherFoot" could hardly prevent himself from bursting out in a hail of euphoric, belly laughter as he stoutly averred "because the creel limit is eight fish per day according to the current law ... only eight ... just eight ... you knew that didn't you DooLittle?!" ... Grandpa flung open the lid and sheepishly handed his timeworn fishing basket over to "FeatherFoot" then insisted "count 'em" ... the beaming game warden looked inside and amid a wry chuckle responded "eight" ... with a grin that would be the envy of any Cheshire cat Grandpa declared "well then what's the problem officer?!" 

The very next evening Grandpa DooLittle had his fresh, pan-fried trout fillets for supper--right there inside of his jail cell--compliments of a donation from the Department of Fish & Game's very own Senior Warden Howard "FeatherFoot" Trotter, and prepared by Sheriff Clarence A. VanMeter's fine kitchen staff--confiscated trout caught by Grandpa DooLittle--enough fish fillets to feed him and all the rest of the jail's inmates for the next thirty days and beyond ... yes, Grandpa DooLittle ended up serving the entire thirty day sentence in the county jail because Grandma DooLittle refused to go to the cookie jar this time and bail him out, certainly not for catching more fish than the law would allow, but rather for being careless enough so as to get himself caught ... needless to say, Grandpa DooLittle had his fill of fried fish--for the time being anyhow ... he also came to the definite conclusion that from thence forward ... when it comes to fishing ... he would simply take it to the limit!


--sja
Share/Bookmark


8 comments:

BOB said...

Sorry to have missed Thee ... been fishin ....

Truth is truth

Got no bites ... and ain't gettin' no pictures in the Stall neither ... my problems ... or yours?

PJ said...

Hey SJA! Glad to see that your "snag" to blogging was cut short. Still don't know where that e-mail went! LOL! Anyway, I've been there and done that (fishing the limit and more). Thankfully, didn't get caught, but have gotten more cautious in my "old age". We are fixing to go on a fishing trip next month (hopefully). I've been cooking Talopia (frozen) but I'm sure yearning for some fresh crappie and perch.

God Bless!
PJ

sja said...

Well I'm back in ... let's see for how long ...

BOB said...

Okay, speaking of mysterious ways, there should be plenty of fat in the skinny ... can't wait ...

Welcome Home!

I wish my memory was better ... the stories told by Uncle Virgil ... in real time ... 'bout encounters with the Game Warden, and the tales told in efforts to escape detection and punishment; mostly unsuccessful, methinks ... at best a draw ... but always funny!

Virgil was at his best methinks, when he was just being Virgil, not trying to be funny.

Karyn Climans said...

I always enjoy reading your work and this piece is no exception. Warden Trotter reminds me of police officers these days that perch themselves at stretches of roads & highways with ridiculously low speed limits ... waiting for unsuspecting people to nab and ticket!
I'm here from BlogFrog!

sja said...

Thank you for the visit and your comment Karyn Climans ... I hope to continue posting these little yarns, and I hope you will continue to read and enjoy them too!

nothingprofound said...

Sja-glad to see you back in business. Don't know what the trouble was, but I hope it's all behind you now. As always, enjoyed your colorful use of language.

sja said...

Thank you Nothingprofound ... I suppose I'll stick around until Google decides otherwise ...