By Carleen Soule
I took my son camping this weekend. Despite the fear of encountering wood ticks (I plucked yet another—amid blood-curdling screams—from his scalp just last week), he was quite excited to venture forth. We packed the tent, bicycles, and fishing gear and headed up to Lake Sakakawea State Park.
We’ve tried our hand at river fishing, but that fast river:small child factor only tries my nerves; lakes are the preferred speed for this momma. I knew Riverdale boasts a kiddie pond, and since I really wanted my son to enjoy the thrill of catching a fish, I thought it would be the ideal destination. We decided to explore the road further past the pond before circling back to it and found ourselves at Government Bay. “Let’s try here, momma!” We unloaded, and since it was a quiet morning, tossed our lines off one of the docks. It didn’t take but minutes and my child had a bite – too small to keep but big enough to excite his spirit. A short time later, his efforts yielded something a bit more keep-worthy.
Now, my fish ID is about as good as my duck ID. “Fish” and “bird” are, for the most part, the extent of my ability, but that is why the Good Lord invented Google. I did wander back to the truck for the Game & Fish fishing booklet, but it contained only four pictures of fish species, none of which matched our grilled vertebrates. A second fish of the same variety—identified as small mouth bass via the University of Google—soon joined the first on the stringer, and shortly thereafter, a 2-lb mate joined the collection. Since my sniffly sneezy child was in need of allergy medicine that momma didn’t pack, we loaded up our catch, skipped the fish cleaning station, and headed to Hazen for sneeze relief.
The odds of catching a fish that I would later need to disassemble had not factored into my head when I suggested we go fishing. I stared at those fish with a very blank look, trying to recall what to do with them. In hindsight, I should have stopped at the fish cleaning station, batted my eyes, and charmed some gentleman into assisting (the moral of this story: never leave the mascara at home). I dug deep into my cranial crockpot of knowledge and tried to recall the filleting process. “Head to toe” (tail, in this case) seemed logical…looked terrible. So I dialed up You Tube and pulled up a filleting master. Clearly his knife was significantly sharper than the plastic-handled object I discovered at the bottom of my tackle box. Since my doctor had adamantly stressed that I should avoid any additional puncture wounds for the remainder of the year, I was very leery of following the filet master’s example, but I attempted my second set of fillets from the tail up and met with slightly less-bungled success. I can’t say they were pretty by any stretch, but they sure were tasty!
One final observation from our weekend: unlike cats, small children always land on their heads when tumbling out of trucks.
Carleen majored in Biology with an Aquatic Emphasis and has worked for Ducks Unlimited since 2008. She lives in the heart of the Duck Factory and enjoys many opportunities to “go find some birds.” In addition to chasing waterfowl and upland birds, Carleen also enjoys fishing, camping, and bow hunting. She is the proverbial Soccer Mom, PTO President, and a member of the Bis-Man Stilettos – a service group in heels. Carleen is also a permaculture gardener and a rabid DIYer who is not afraid to try something she’s seen on TV. She’s looking forward to her first rifle hunt in the fall.