Stickman Readers' Submissions April 24th, 2004

Gone Fishing (In Isaan) Part 16, The End

Gone Fishing (In Isaan) Part 16

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As soon as the lure struck the water I gave it a 3 second count to drop a bit into the water and started to reel it back in. I could feel the spinner kick into spinning, and jigged the lure to simulate the dying throes of a fish in distress. I was now in my element. Fishing!! Fuck that netting shit. Too laborious and dangerous, and it plays hell on the back. I was doing what I am best at now. True fishing. Using lures instead of live bait is to me the real test of a fisherman. To be able to take an inanimate object and fool the fish into thinking it's something alive and tasty requires some skill, some knowledge of fish and their habits, and, for me, separates the men from the boys.

It's a Zen thing. A mind meld with the fish. It's relaxing, yet exciting. The anticipation of the strike. The fight to come. The repetitious casting and retrieving while concentrating on the moves that you send through the line to the lure through subtle movements of your own body casts a spell on your mind and soul. You become one with nature. You are the hunter, the provider of meat for the communal fire, pitting your skills against the wily beast. Modern society be damned!! If the big one ever is dropped you'll survive and feed the clan. Your belly will be full when the Makro down the road has been stripped bare by the starving mobs. You are man, the ultimate hunter!! Errr……….well, something like that anyway. It's fun.

Halfway back on the retrieval of my first cast I had a strike. A good one too! I snapped the pole back setting the hook deeper. This bastard was mine!! He made a run for deeper water. I played out the line as the drag whirred and hummed. Let him run, there will be no escape. I am the master of this game baby! It's like chess. Move and counter-move. Planned strategy and memories of old battles fought, and won and lost. Experience counts. The grey matter now matters. I had become this one fish's vengeful and terrible God. His gluttony was his downfall. My plastic bag his purgatory. My frying pan his hell. It was time to alter his reality. He was dinner.

I reeled in furiously. He ran again, now a bit tired and probably wondering if he had bit off more than he could chew. I let him run, but a little less this time, and once again reeled him closer to his doom. He broke the surface, and thrashed the water into a foam of futile anger at his predicament. He was close. One more run and he was mine!! My redemption as the alpha male hunter/fisher/provider of meat for the family was at hand. This falang could fish! Ya can't joke about the fishing ability of the guy whose fish is filling your belly now can ya?!! Hahahaha!

Wife and daughter had come up next to me finally. Daughter laughed and clapped her hands when she saw I had a fish on the line. Yes look sow, father is a fine provider. Your meal is coming. "What you do darling?" the wife asks. "I'm catching your dinner dear! Now shaddup a minute so's I can land the bugger will ya?" She smiles and said, "Okay. You want beer?" Wimmin!! Ya jes can't take 'em fishin'! "Not now dammit! I'm catching a fish!" I grumbled, as I concentrated on my catching the damned thing.

Finally the fight was out of the Isaan aquatic prey. He came in easily, a beaten, and to be eaten, fish. I pulled him from the pink tinted sunset waters. He was a beauty. A good pound and a half, maybe. A meal for one no problem! I held him up in the dying sunlight for the wife and daughter to see. "Can eat." was the wife's smiling comment. Daughter clapped her hands once again and smiled, then started playing around with my lures and gear. The three rowdy boys came over to examine the farang's catch, seemingly impressed. Yeah! Let's see your daddy catch as fine a fish you little disrespectful scamps!! I took a beer Chang and gulped it down. Yessssssssssss.

Within a half hour I caught three more fish before it was too dark to see anymore. One more, as large as the first one. One maybe a pound, and a little bugger, who upon examination by the wife was deemed edible enough. I don't think there is too much "catch and release" going on in Isaan. If you catch it, you eat it, it seems.

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We took our catch and walked slowly back toward the house. Look sow was showing off my fine catch to all the neighbors along the way. I was happy, and tired, and my fucking skin felt as though it was on fire. Sis came over and inspected my fish. "Wow! Good fish!" she exclaimed, "Now I cook, okay? We eat?" Yes my talkative wench, now you can cook and eat the damned things. And remember as you are chewing your meal who caught them. Me! The falang fisherman.

She gutted the fish, stuffed them with herbs, what looked to be lemon grass, parsely, and young bamboo shoots I think. The bamboo shoots were left sticking out of the mouths of each fish by a few inches and used for turning the fish over on the charcoal grill as they cooked. My fish fed the wife, Sis, daughter, and old Mama too. Accompanied by rice and peppers, some sticky rice, and vegetables, it was declared a fine feast. I only had one small bite, wanting them to eat it all. Tasty it was. I was pooped, and too tired even to eat. I just sat at the cement chess table at Sis 2's shop and drank more beer. Later my wife brought the still hot charcoal grill over by me and cooked me some pork and shrimps, which I ate with some sticky rice, while I quaffed my beers and relaxed.

Sis came over later and sat with me, and as we all sat around drinking and chatting I admitted to all that Sis had not pushed me into the rice fishing pond. It was all just a big falang joke on her. This brought about much laughing and joking and teasing of Sis, who good naturedly beat the crap out of me. I was too tired to run, and didn't want to spill my beer Chang. Sis couldn't figure out exactly why really I had played my trick on her, and fuck it, why should I explain the strange mind of the farang to them. I'd rather remain a bit of an enigma. I prefer to remain a mysterious and somewhat inscrutable foreigner. It's my allure. I am a part of this family, yet have different and strange ways sometimes, which is accepted by them for the most part. It also helps when I want things to go my way. I just say it's the falang way, and my will be done, please. I AM the head of the household. No further arguments will be heard!! Haha! Yeah, sure. I ordered a couple of bottles of Lao Kao to be dispensed for everyone around the table by Sis 2 and a party broke out.

As I sat there contented, a bit drunk, fed and watered, and feeling my just oats over my awesome fishing skills having been able to feed four people, no matter that I'd spent enough baht on fishing gear to have fed half the village a feast that night, I cast back in my mind over the day. It was hard to believe all I had done in just one day. And what a day it had been! With more to come I imagined, here in the village, back later in the week in Surin, some days also to be spent in Pattaya with friends and family, and more days and nights left to amuse myself in Bangkok, I couldn't wait. Yet I dreaded the passing of each day which brought me closer to having to leave. Here in Thailand I am at my happiest and most content for some strange reason. Or maybe not so strange when I think about it, and try at times to understand it.

I asked for a glass of the Lao Kao to be poured for me. The wife gave me "the look", as I rarely imbibe this foul swill, and she seems to have bad feelings about this beverage, having seen too many Thai men become complete abusive assholes and morons after drinking it I suppose. I calmed her fears by saying softly to her in her ear, "Only one small glass darling, then we go off to bed. Where you can slap on some lotion on my lobster red aching skin. And maybe we can keep each other awake for a while. Hehe." She laughed sweetly in the darkness and poured me a small one. She has such a sexy laugh.

As I sat there sipping my drink I noticed over my shoulder a bright full moon rising over the house behind us, our house. The black velvet skies above were strewn with stars. God's awesome handiwork was displayed above us all. Over the roof of Sis 2's shop stood the eerie stark branches of the Golem Tree, a strange backdrop of ghoulish silhouette for the sparkling stars in the night sky. I can see it now in my mind's eye. I finished my drink and stretched and yawned. Time for bed. I was tired.

Fishing is just so damned relaxing ain't it? Especially in Isaan!

The End.


"Count the day lost whose low descending sun
Views from thy hand no worthy action done."

Author Unknown, From Stanford's Art of Reading

Stickman's thoughts:

A fine series.

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