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Monday, 28 April 2008

Smelt!

By Ronni Prior of Rants By Ronni

For one magical season, back in 1973, SSS and I lived on the shore of Lake Michigan in a seedy, run-down fishing resort. More like camping than a resort, but fun nevertheless. During the winter, they filled the cabins with hardy people and come summer, kicked them all out and charged four times the rent to vacationers.

One of the first signs of spring was the running of these little fish called smelt. Catching smelt was a yearly ritual and, like snipe-hunting, unavoidable. As soon as the first of the tiny silver fish was spotted, people dug out their hip waders, pulled out their seines and got ready to go.

Now this is Lake Michigan we are talking about. Less than a month before, it had been covered with lumpy ice that extended several hundred yards from the shore. That water was cold!

So Gary got on one end of the net, and Dave got on the other, and they waded out into the lake unrolling it as they went. It had a stick at either end. Now, Gary had a dog. A big dog. His name was NoHey, as the first thing he heard (a lot) when Gary got him was, "No! Hey! Get out of there!"

NoHey was an oversized German Shepherd, as big as a St Bernard and about a year old. He saw Gary with a stick and just knew that it was for throwing. As he leapt about, splashing all and sundry with icy water, he managed to grab the stick at Dave's end of the net and knock him over.

That ended the day's smelting as we had to get Dave into a hot shower and dry clothes. With all the kafuffle, only about a dozen smelt found their way into the bucket. After Dave was suitably dried out and warmed up, I went out to grab the bucket for a (small) fish fry. As I opened the door, I saw NoHey reach into the bucket, pick up a fish, flip it in the air, catch it and swallow it whole.

It was the last fish.

If Dave had had his way, it would have been NoHey's last meal.

I decided that smelting was a vastly over-rated activity.

[If you would like to contribute to The Elder Storytelling Place, the guidelines are here. We would all be pleased to read your stories.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Did NoHey live to tell his tale? I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't.

Ronni,

Good story. I also wondered if the dog lived long enough to go "Smelting" again.

NoHey lived to a ripe old age.

Dave, on the other hand, was disabled in a motorcycle accident a few years later, and I kind of lost touch with him.

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