An Old Fish Tale

    This event took place sometime during the summer of ’66 or ’67 when I was 10 or 11 years old.  I’m
    assuming the statute of limitations has expired on any “legal miss-steps” we may or may not have
    taken and so this tale is finally safe to tell.

    Several of my childhood buddies were almost fanatical about fishing.  We’d walk or ride our bikes to
    countless hot spots around the pond for any fish the pond may hold.  One particular summer evening
    Mike Connelly, Jeffrey Alger and I went down to the pond to try out a new lure I’d bought at the
    Hopedale Coal & Ice earlier that day.  It was a Rebel, a minnow replica that “swam” just below the
    surface and looked just like a real fish.

    Jeffrey’s brother had a rowboat chained up on the parklands side of the bathhouse and Jeffrey had
    “borrowed” the key to the padlock (perhaps one of the legal miss-steps referenced above?).  As it
    turned out, there were no oars under the boat.  However, the lifeguard boat was still outside the
    bathhouse and the oars were left in it. With the pond not being open that evening we saw no harm in
    borrowing the oars (perhaps another one of those legal miss-steps?) and the three of us rowed off
    as fast as we could in the general direction of West Cove and away from any prying eyes that may
    have witnessed our larceny!

    The cove was almost completely covered with lily pads save for a narrow swath of open water. As
    soon as the first cast hit the water the lure was pounced upon, causing a huge splash.  The rod bent
    nearly in half as the drag sang furiously.  Through absolutely no skill on my part I still managed to
    haul the fish along side the boat where Mike reached into its gill and hoisted it up over the gunwale
    and into the boat.  This huge (we thought anyway) large mouth bass flopped, flipped and bled all over
    the boat and we finally managed to get the many hooks out of its lips.  It was the most magnificent
    fish any of us had ever caught.  

    At some point on the long row back to the shore we determined I had to give the fish to Mike.  Mike
    was the only one of us that would eat it, and Jeffrey would have gotten in trouble for using his brother’
    s boat and I would have gotten in trouble for using Jeffrey’s brother’s boat, borrowing the lifeguard
    boat’s oars and going out on the pond without telling anybody where I was (the dreaded triple threat).

    So the story of the best fish I ever caught in Hopedale pond had to remain untold lest the truth come
    out and one or more of us would find out just what else a belt could be used for. And I’d never look at
    Hopedale Pond the same way again.

    To complete the ruse, Jeffrey, Mike and I split up for the walk home.  Mike proceeded down Hopedale
    Street along the shop while Jeffrey and I went home via Dutcher Street.  

    And what could provide a more perfect ending to a fish tale than this: Mike just told me today, nearly
    50 years after the fact, that as he walked along Hopedale Street some guy on a motorcycle pulled
    over and offered him $5.00 for the fish and Mike turned him down!  But so impressed with this fish
    was Mike that he stopped at his neighbor’s (the Herons) to show them the fish.  He told them it was

    Gary Wright, February 2014

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