Thanks for the great read, jackknife! Puts me in touch with a time I never knew.
I have long been a fan of the little peanut, having grown up with a man who used it as his edc pocket knife for most of his life. I can't help but look at a peanut, and have short pictures and images from the past come into my minds eye. Fishing with my dad was one.
I remember one time in the mid 70's when just he and I went out one afternoon for some quality time on a shady river bank. Dad was getting on in years at this point, and it was a chance for us to spend some time togeher and just hang out. This one Saturday I picked up dad at the house for our drive out to the Potomic river.
It was a beautifull spring morning, and he came out of the house with his rod and tackle box, and looked at my car. He never missed a chance to make fun of my car, and today would be no exeption. Money being a little tight, I was still driving my '66 bug. He looked at it and asked me if we were going fishing or going to compete in the Soap Box derby. I stashed his rod and tackle box in the back and we got in to drive off. For a quiet man he had a dry sarcastic wit. Once in the car, he looked in the glove box, down between the two bucket seats, all around. I asked him what he was looking for and he said he was looking for the big key to wind up the rubber bands. Dad was a die hard Pontiac man, and anything less than his Bonnie was a toy car.
Once out at the river we set up in a nice shady spot, and I got the cooler out of the back seat and we enjoyed a cold one. I always enjoyed watching him as he went about his carefull rituals. This morning he took out his old peanut and walked a short way into the woods, coming back with a forked stick. Using his pocket knife, he sharpened one end to drive into the ground to rest his rod on, while he slowly filled his old brier pipe with the brown Amphora tobacco he liked. Of course it was his ritual before filling his pipe, he'd peer into the bowl as if looking for the meaning of life, and then carefull scrape the inside with the small blade of his peanut. He kept the small blade of his knife dull, and it was his scraper, poking, and dirty deed blade. After he got the cake shaped to his satisfaction, he'd tamp in and light the tobacco. Only then would he settle down to the buisness of fishing.
This day we were out for some catfish. Mom had a way of frying them up with a light cornmeal coating that made for a moist, tasty dinner. Add some eastern shore style hush puppys and a cold beer and it was fit for a last meal of a condemed man. For bait we had the old stand-by of chicken livers. Dad would take a chicken liver and using the peanut, he'd carefully cut himself a piece of the firmer part of the liver and imbed the hook out of sight. The main blade of the peanut sliced cleanly through the slippery liver like a scalple. Then, to make sure the carfish couldn't suck the liver off the hook, he'd take a fine bit of cotton thread and tie it around the liver to the hook shank. Again, he'd use the peanut to trim excess thread away from the knot. Dad took his catfish hunting, as he called it, very serious.
Sitting quietly by the water, he and I would have some great talks, and come up with solutions to most of the worlds problems. Now and then we'd catch a fish, and it would go on a stringer, and I'd get to watch dad go through his baiting ritual again. There must have been something to his method, because he always cought more fish than I did.
Sometimes we'd snack off whatever he had brought in his old haversack. He had this old olive green canvas bag with a shoulder strap, and it was his "go to" bag. He'd have a small first aid kit and some twine, and other odds and ends. Sometimes he'd have a few snacks. I had a more modern nylon daypack with some of the same. Once in a while he'd dig into the canvas bag and come up with some cheese and crackers, or a length of pepperoni to go on the sandwichs I'd bring. He'd tell me to "cut off a piece of that pepperoni, pup" and I'd pick up his peanut sitting there on top of his tackle box and cut off some. The knife always seemed to be razor sharp, going through the hard pepperoni like it was butter.
Then there was the time he decied he wanted to try to use a simple pole like in his youth.
We had been fishing on this section of bank that had a nice little stand of poplar's back in the woods. I notice dad kept looking back there, and I knew he was thinking something over. Finally he got up and put his rod down and walked back there. Selecting a slim sappling about 3 feet taller than he was, he knelt down and began cutting around the base. When he notched all around it, he stood up and gently bent it over untill it snapped off at the groove he'd cut around it. Trimming it off he came back to the bank and got to work. He got his old Prince Albert pocket size tobacco tin out of his canvas bag and shook out the contents. there were some various screws, nuts, some paper clips, and other stuff. He selected a paper clip and put the rest away. Then he unbent the paper clip at the halfway point and bent it back and forth till it broke. Straitening it out, he then took out his Zippo lighter. By this time I had no idea what he was doing, but I was facinated watching him. He took the straitened piece of paper clip, and used the holes in the wind guard around the wick of the Zippo as a tool to form the wire of the paper clip into a strait piece with a V in it at the halfway point. He'd stick the wire through the hole to the right spot, and bend the wire with preasure on the Zippo. Like a makeshift pipe bender in miniature. Rooting around in his bag he came up with a half used roll of electrical tape. To dad's generation, the black electrical tape was the duct tape of his era. Using the tape, he attached the bent paper clip part to the sappling and had a eye for the line. He used both pieces of the clip and put two eye's on his pole for the line to pass through. One out at the tip, and another about halfway. He made a nice pole with a long line on it that he could use like a fly rod, using his right hand to take up the slack when pulling in a fish, or letting slack out when casting his baited hook out further than if the line were just attached to the end of the pole. With his peanut, a paper clip, some electrical tape, he'd made a nice casting pole. He cought a fish on it too.
I don't think I ever knew another person who got more milage out of a few common items, or a small two bladed pocket knife called a peanut.
Last edited by jackknife; 01-12-2009 at 06:06 PM.
Thanks for the great read, jackknife! Puts me in touch with a time I never knew.
Great story, Jackknife. I do have a question. My attitude towards catfish is, “How much will you pay me to eat it?” I’ve heard rumors that there are ways to make it edible, and even delicious. For lack of evidence, I consider them on a par with Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. If you have your mother’s recipe, I hope you’ll share it with us culinary barbarians.
Fried with cocktail sauce catfish is awesome.
Great story! I can smell the water and taste the catfish! Yum!
Very simple is the best way. take the catfish fillets, and dip them in beaten egg, then roll them in a 50% corn meal and 50% general flour mix that has some salt and pepper in it. Repeat the process and dip them in the egg and flour again. Then place them is a hot iron skillet with olive oil and fry about 3 minutes on each side. Time is aproximate, keep an eye on it and flip over when golden brown around the edges. DO NOT OVER COOK! Over cooking is the ruin of more seafood and fish than any other cause.
When the fillets flake easy, thier done. Take out of skillet and eat with favorite tarter/cajon/cocktale sause of your choice.
warning; this works with most channel cats cought in a free flowing river. If you get a mud cat from a pond, you have to put them in a bucket of clean water for a day to "clean out".
For what it’s worth, this isn’t just my opinion or experience. I’ve heard other people say, “They really know how to cook catfish in New Orleans (Alabama/wherever). I can’t get the same results no matter what I try. I guess you have to know the secret.”
I’ll give your method a try.
Best catfish I ever tasted was at a old shack restaurant on Lake Caddo in east Texas on the Louisiana border. They had an awesome spicy corn flour type dip, and deep fried them whole in lard. Along with the jalapeno hush puppies, that were like carnival style funnel cakes, it was a tasty meal.
They probably needed to serve them with a rib spreader, but they were great. By and large, catfish ar not my favorite fresh water fish, prefer crappie and walleye, but they are OK if fried fast in hot grease so they don't get mushy. The best catfish are raised or caught in cold clear water.
By the way, in East Texas (or most of the South) when you take your family out to a restaurant for fish, you're talking about catfish. It's a staple. There are even chain catfish restaurants around here. If you have folks over for a "fish fry" everyone just assumes they're going to be eating catfish (unless you've got a few crappie to throw in).
Catfish farming is a huge industry in the South, especially in the Mississippi Delta.
Another great reminder of times gone by, thanks for sharing.
Man I LOVE Peanut stories. Thanx again, Carl.
Old man that used to live on Lake Livingston would have some of us over every once in a while. We didn't catch any catfish off his pier -- just bluegill. He'd fry them up in a similar cornbread mix to what jackknife described.
Man, I haven't had any GOOD fish in a while.
Maybe you just have to be born south of the Mason-Dixon line to have a tooth for the catfish?
Mentors & Elders did a lot of shotgunning, both on a Skeet field, Trap field, or out hunting.
Guns were shot a lot!
One of the shooters had a 870 he used a lot, and it started having the receiver pins back out, in fact one had come out while shooting skeet.
So I watch this Mentor fix this, and he also made some new receiver pins as he did some metal work, some smithin', but mostly showing me how stuff was done.
He had another well worn shotgun, showed me that one and it had electrical tape over the receiver pins so they could not back out.
Then we walked out back and got some sticks, come back in and "got your Peanut, it better be sharp Young-un" he said to me.
So I produced my Peanut , it passed his inspection and "pay attention, 'cause I gonna show you how to fix this problem if you were caught out hunting."
He fashioned two receiver pins using my Peanut, whittling and shaping "just right" for that shotgun.
Then he went out back and shot quite a few shells to show me, it really worked.
"Do this right, you don't need electrical tape, but if'n you got it, like around a short pencil to write down compass notes, you can".
I grew up slapping triggers on shotguns, yes indeed!
Skeet, and hunting and Southern Traditions run deep on some of this, such as Dove and Quail
Respect the quail - Robert Ruark
Quail are respected, revered, and appreciated. Just a total experience from covey's in a field, to dawgs , to how one hunts, to every thing.
Quail...Southern Fried Quail with scratch biscuits and gravy...oh my!
I was invited to hunt quail, and the host was going to use a old pump gun that was his daddy's.
Shot little, Respected a lot, just a tribute to his daddy now gone by using it to take a few quail.
I look over and this host is about to cry.
Receiver pin is missing.
This gun means the world to this man and ...
I take my Peanut, fashion a receiver pin to fit, just as I was shown as a kid.
I had a couple of strips of electrical tape with me - still I did not need to use them as I did it "just right".
I suggested he go on and hunt, I would retrace his steps and find that pin, which I did.
He felled 2 Quail from a covey, got a double like his daddy used to do.
Those were done up real nice by a taxidermist, with the spent hulls, and a stick, I fashioned to make a receiver pin for that gun that day.
The gun was fixed, and put up being real sentimental.
Still folks will see them Quail and wonder what the hey a "stick" is doing in that glass case, with spent hulls, pictures...
They understand a picture of that gun , one of his daddy using that gun, but until the story of how a Peanut was used to make a receiver pin, that "stick" makes no sense at all.
Then he had to explain later why there is a dad-burned Peanut in that glass case too. *grin*
How raised- what you do.
Last edited by sm2; 05-16-2008 at 10:11 PM.
Oh yeah, that was it. Look at the reviews! That was back around 1991 when I was there. Good folks down that way.
Coleman's Fish Market, Wheeling, WVa. Best fried fish I've ever had, and many a fish fry has come and gone. They've only been in business about a thousand years, and Lord only knows how many Lodge and church fries they've done. Get 4 sandwiches to go, they hand you a cardboard box of hot fish and a loaf of bread- the Wonder bakery's just down the road.
Dad's never carried a Peanut, but close. He always carried a small Craftsman lockback, about 3" closed, until he finally lost it a few years back. Next was a Case tiny toothpick, but that's been replaced with an original Schrade 3-OT.
My grandfather was one of these one knife kind a guys. He used his Henckels sleeveboard pen as long as I remember (she had some beautiful stag scales) and now I remember the little candy tin he had.
He always kept some hard candy that he wrapped in tinfoil, some nails, heavy duty sewing thread and needle, as well as fence staples, a pencil and various odds and ends in there. So when I asked him for a pice of candy, he got out this tin and give us a piece of his hand wrapped hard candy.
As I said in an earlier tread, my grandfather passed away while I was in Colorado, and once I got home, I found out, that this tin with the contents, as well as HIS HENCKELS KNIFE and some other small tools I would have liked to have, got thrown out by my aunt - It took me a while to find out what she meant with "a box of scrap metal". At least I could save some of his tools, that he accumulated while working as a surveyor for the county and as a farmer.
But I found a tin just like his on *bay, and bought it, payed way too much, but now its sitting in front of me with a picture of him in the lid. One day I will find a knife like his - I promise.
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