The wife and I were blessed with two sons. As with most parents, we enjoyed doing things with our kids.

I don’t remember just how old they were at this time, but they were still in grade school.

We thought we would go on a fishing-camping trip. So we loaded our camping and fishing gear and headed out to a small lake not too far out of town.

When we arrived the first order of things was to set up camp. It was late in the evening and the boys were anxious to start fishing. Well, me too.

We had no boat so we would be fishing from the bank. Problem was, there were no really clear spots which were not already taken. We found a halfway decent spot and started preparing our lines.

There were so many trees and brush the boys would get hung up. After a few times of this, I was becoming irritated (not at the boys) but because it was getting dark and I also wanted to fish.

Finally, things got settled down and I got my line ready. Okay, here I go. Oops, now I am hung up. Now I am really mad, and embarrassed, so I yanked hard on my line.

It came loose and, what I thought was the sinker, hit me in the head, which didn’t help my mood any, so I pulled even harder.

Well, it wasn’t a sinker that hit me in the head, it was my treble hook. Buried under the skin. That’s what I get for losing my temper.

I asked my wife to pull it out, and she tried with no luck. She said as always, I had a hard head.

Thanks, I needed that.

I told her to take my knife, cut the skin a little and lift it out.

“No way,” she says.

The oldest boy jumped right on that one.

“Let me, I can do it!”

In your dreams boy. My line never hit the water, but I caught a big sucker. It was late so I needed to go to the emergency room.

We cut the fishing line from the hook, I put a hat on and off I went. I didn’t have to go all the way back into town because a new branch of the hospital had just been completed nearby.

At least I might not be gone for hours. I was glad I didn’t have to go to the main hospital because I knew too many of the staff that worked there. That would be embarrassing.

I got to the emergency room, walked up to the desk, and to my surprise, I knew the nurse. She asked me what the problem was, because I looked fine to her.

I explained to her (very quietly) that I had a fish hook stuck in my head. She must not have heard me, because she asked again what it was I had said.

I repeated what I told her before, and as she was laughing she repeated loudly, “You have a fish hook in your head?”

I didn’t understand why she did that until I looked around and saw that I knew most of the staff there. They had transferred from the main hospital to here.

I must have looked like a turtle pulling his head back into his shell. At that time I wish I could have.

Well, I gave them a good laugh and after that some of them began calling me Captain Hook. That took some time to live down.

As the boys got a little older and a little more responsible, they asked if they could take a few friends and go fishing and camping overnight without me going along. I agreed.

They loaded their gear and I took them to a nearby county park and lake. Told them I would pick them up the next afternoon. Late that night there was a tornado that went through that area. I headed out to the park right away.

By the time I got there it was daylight. Trees were down everywhere. I couldn’t get to their campsite by car because of the trees. I walked the rest of the way, or rather ran.

When I got to their camp, I saw a tree laying across their tent. You can imagine what I felt at that moment. None of them were inside.

I began calling for them. It wasn’t too long they came walking up the hill from the lake, and all three were just fine. Boy what a relief.

I asked them what they did and they said the wind got so strong they went to one of the shelter houses, built a fire in the stone fireplace and spent the night.

That morning they got up and went fishing as if nothing happened.

We dug out their camping gear, loaded up and went home, even though they wanted to stay and fish. I sure was proud of them. Nice move.

When the boys got old enough they joined the boy scouts. As time went by, they wanted to take a canoe trip and earn a particular badge. Okay, but this meant adult supervision.

We decided the Marais des Cygnes River would do fine. It was only about seventy miles from our place and the river would be about right for canoeing this time of year.

With the three of us and all the camping and fishing gear, we would need two canoes. That meant another adult to help in the second canoe. I called a friend of mine (yes, I do have a friend or two) and he thought that would be fun.

We would spend three days on the trip, and travel approximately fifty miles on the river. The river was much lower than we expected, so we had to do quite a bit of portaging.

We were having a pretty good time except for my friend. I didn’t notice he didn’t appear to be enjoying the trip. Before long he said he wasn’t feeling well.

Maybe, but I feel as though he expected more from the trip, and not so much work. I have to admit it did turn into more work than expected. But you never know what might happen.

Well, he decided he would go home. He called for someone to come pick him up. He did make a call for us to my “other” friend, to come take his place.

The boys were worried the trip would end right there. While we were waiting on the switch, we did get in a lot of fishing. The boys caught fish, all I did was drown a few worms.

A lot of time had been lost which we would need to make up as to meet our scheduled pickup time.

At night we camped on the bank, got in a lot of fishing and the rest of the trip went well and we made our pickup time.

When the boys got a little older, their boy scout troop canoed the border waters of Canada. I guess our little trip was just a “walk in the park.”

One spring I went to Independence, Kansas, and did some scouting for deer at a nearby lake. Found a good spot where deer had been traveling, and a great place for a stand.

When the season came around, a buddy of mine (now I have three friends) wanted to go along and fish while I was hunting.

So we hooked his boat trailer to the car and off we went. When we arrived, we found the lake had flooded some. To reach my deer stand I would have to walk through two feet of water, and that ain’t gonna happen.

Since we had driven that far and brought the boat, he wanted to go ahead and try to do some fishing.

I didn’t mind, but I thought it would be a waste of time, but then when I fish it is a waste of time. The water was real muddy and a little swift but we put the boat in and tried our luck. My first cast, I snagged on something.

I had learned my lesson on jerking my line, so I just began reeling it in and whatever I had hooked, it was coming in.

Big-big surprise I had a large catfish on my line. I couldn’t believe my eyes. We fished a little longer with no luck.

We wanted to see what that fish weighed so we drove to a little bait shop we had passed on our way in and checked it out on their scales.

Wow! It went twelve and a half pounds. For me, that was a monster. For me to even catch a fish was something. That night we cooked it over an open fire, and I can’t believe we ate the whole thing.

The years went by too fast. The boys grew up and left home. So we sold our house and moved back to the Neosho area.

Sometime later my oldest son called and wanted me to go fishing with him to a lake he wanted to try out. Of course I would.

We loaded the canoe and set out. He was quite the fisherman, and he knew my fishing skills, so he had me use the same lures he was using. Sounded good to me. How could I go wrong?

He was fishing on one side of the canoe and I on the other. He was catching fish and I was not. He thought we would just switch sides and see what would happen. Okay that should do it.

There must be a honey hole on his side. Well, guess what? Now he was catching fish on my side, and me, same as always, nothing.

All I know is that fish hate me. Oh, well, I sure had a great time in all these years with all my friends and family.


 

Tom Boydston lives in Neosho, Mo., and can be reached by phone
or text at 417-439-6048.