We called them sunnies and bluegills. Small fish that crisped up nice in the frying pan. This one’s a Longear Sunfish.
One summer day, fishing with my dad in Celery Bay, we caught so many of these lake fish that they filled our pail. Casted out, landed them. Casted out, landed them. Dad finally said, “We’d better fill the bottom of this boat with water and keep ’em that way.”
He poured the pail full of fish into the boat and they flopped about while dad, fast! fast! bailed backwards & water poured into the boat until there was enough to keep the fish alive, but not so much that we’d sink. Slippery fish skimmed past my ankles. An occasional gill prickled. We kept casting out and landing them until they stopped biting.
We rowed home laughing and yelling for our friends and family to see our empty pail and our rowboat a quarter full of water and 44 Lepomis Megalotis. And they did. And they laughed and yelled too.
We bear witness for each other – that’s what makes it true.
I was 9. It’s a perfect memory.
– watercolor painting (and life story!) by Mary MacGowan