fish tales from the towpath

By Susan B. Price, originally published in "The Canal Times" in 2007

fish divasNight Fishing at Pittsford Landing

Maria and I meet at Pittsford’s Shoen Place. At 6 P.M. the day is still sultry. The towpath is crowded with dog-walkers and duck-watchers. A 4-year-old pesters us with questions and an old man tells us to get our gear off his bench. Maria’s line is tangled around her reel from our last outing and the Chardonnay is warm. We’re roughing it. Two fishing divas: What we lack in skill, we make up for in womanly grit.

Then along comes Malone. He saunters over, can of beer in hand.

“What the hell are you doing?” He looks around. “This is a terrible place to fish – like being downtown. Give me that.” He grabs Maria’s rod. “What d’ya got for bait?” I hold out the soggy box of once-frozen corn. Malone scowls. “Worms, you need worms,” he says as he jams niblets onto our hooks. “Ain’t gonna catch any fish with this.”

By the time we throw our legs over the edge of the towpath and slip down to water’s edge, Maria and I are all thumbs. This is what men do. I forget to flip my bail and Maria’s swivel gets caught in her tip. Malone casts for both of us, lets the sinkers settle, tightens the lines, then snugs the rods among the rocks at an angle to the current, tips up.

“Watch. When the tip start vibrating, you’ve got a fish.” He hikes over to his truck and brings back a cooler. Ignoring our wine, he pops open beers and hands them to us. “This is fishing.”

The sun sets. No bites. “Find some worms,” Malone orders.

On her cell phone Maria calls boyfriend… ex-husband… neighbors. Soon a dark Dodge Caravan pulls up. A woman hands Maria a carton of worms in exchange for a fistful of cigarettes. Malone approves.

In no time, I’m reeling in a 15-inch bullhead. “Get a picture, get a picture,” I scream.

Maria yanks the tiny camera from my fishing vest. Malone jumps up to net the fish but it pops off the hook. Splash. “I didn’t get a picture,” Maria scolds.

“My fault, my fault, I’m sorry,” Malone says, then grins. “But it’s okay – I’m your witness.”

The sweetness of a summer’s night falls over us. We sit in a row on the towpath, watching our tips. It’s about so much more than the fish.

Drop me a line!