They hoped the fish would be biting that day. They needed the fish to be biting that day, because it was Woody and Guila's annual fish fry; a feast that the family and all the neighbors within shouting distance counted on.
"Did you get to the bait shop?" Guila asked as Woody steered the pick-up down the dusty road alongside the river.
"Heck no. I's goin' to use the scrap from Ma's Sunday dinner," said Woody with a wink and wry smile as he kept the truck going straight.
"I don't remember eatin' worms for dinner Woodrow George." Guila shook her head and rolled down her window ignoring the dust cloud that billowed inside.
"Well, no we had a chicken dinner and I snuck out all the scrap. I put in it my pocket when Ma wasn't looking. It would have just gone to the dogs and swine, I had a better idea...Bait!"
"Woody that is the strangest thing I've heard. Chicken and fish. How's that going to work?" Guila bit her lip and looked away.
"Oh it will work, Guila Marie, it will."
Woody turned toward the river. There was a break in the vegetation and the gleaming navy blue water begun to call for the day fishers. Woody pulled the truck to a stop on the shoulder of the road. He and Guila grabbed their fishing baskets and poles and walked toward a little known peninsula just before the ox bow.
|Guila and Woody Stroope, circa 1940|
Woody ignored her comment. He knew that Guila was a better fisherman than any of his friends. She always fished without any intention of being good, which in turn made her great.
He watched as Guila cast the trusty red pole hard. The hook sank and the pole immediately started to pull and shake. Guila reeled in the line as Woody gently coached, "there you go, keep it coming." A strong colorful rainbow trout came in with the line. Woody took the fish off the hook and placed it on another line wading in the water. He then cast out and just as quickly was able to reel in a stunning rainbow trout. "See, I knew fish liked chicken." He called over his shoulder as he cast out his pole again.
This same easy catch happened over and over until the sun let them know it was time to stop. In all, Guila and Woody had caught 23 fish, more than enough for a fish fry.
As they drove home Guila mused. "We did well today Woody. It was almost as if the Lord had a hand in our day by the river. The trout just seemed too happy to come in."
"Or maybe it was the chicken." Woody laughed waving off Guila's glares. "Yee-haw! That Buck is never gonna believe all these fish were from one day. I've got a new secret and I ain't sharing."
"Don't be so ornery!" Guila scolded swatting the air toward her husband.
"Well, I know one thing, we've got to invite everyone we know over tonight, even the guys from the bait shop. It'll be a hoot!" Woody pounded the steering wheel in a sort of celebration.
"Let's make sure we get a picture of the catch before we prepare supper," Guila proposed.
"This may never happen again."
*This short piece on the fish fry was a writing exercise based upon the photo of my grandparents. There were many fish stories I was told growing up. I took bits and pieces and found a story in the photo.