July 18th, 2005

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

The Tarzan Pike
Richard A. (Dick) Taylor (Grn Mt Man)

Summertime, July, 1952, New England and nothing to do on a foggy Thursday morn. Phone rings and the husky twelve year old voice of 'Mick" enters my ear.

"Dick, lets go fishing tomorrow morn down at Otter Creek and see if we can't catch "Big George."

Why a "husky" voice at twelve, you may ask. Simple; Michael Fitzgerald O'Rourke was possessed of a magnificent flattened boxer's nose that resonated his youthful soprano into a seasoned growl whenever he spoke. He was the envy of the neighborhood and it was supposed that the nose was a testament to his prowess in the fine art of fisticuffs. Truth be told, his little sister, tired of the constant teasing, hammered him with the business end of a large kitchen skillet and forever altered his visage and his septum!

"Okay for tomorrow; but, what kind of bait should we try this time?"

"How about we start out with night crawlers and see what happens?"

"All right with me; but, I don't have any more, do you?"

"Nah; but we can go to the golf course tonight and load up except that we'll need a piece of red cellophane and mom opened the last bottle yesterday and threw it out."

Now you ask, what does red cellophane have to do with milk? In the old days, before dirt, milk actually was home delivered by truck, in glass bottles with cardboard caps. Not your squared-up, plasticized cartons of today. And, the heavy cream bottles were denoted by a piece of bright red rubber banded cellophane that covered the top.

What does red cellophane have to do with anything? Holie molie, have you never fetched night crawlers after dark and tried to catch them with a bright-beamed yellow glowing flashlight. Any veteran "crawler snatcher" knows that an unshielded light is too bright and produces too much heat for criminy's sake! That's why you need the red cellophane rubber-banded over the flashlight lens - dummy!

"We can probably get some from the "Milkman" if he's home."

No, not the milkman; "The Milkman."

Charles Arthur Rutherford Pearsall from New Joisey! Why "The Milkman" and not the obvious "CARP?" Cause Charles informed us bumpkins, when asked where he thought milk came from, that it came from bottles delivered to your house!

"What does it have to do with a filthy cow," was his response to the question. And that's how Charles was inducted into the neighborhood clan and forever tagged, "The Milkman."

Chuck did supply the cellophane and we were able to gather the requisite 'crawlers that night at the golf course.

I bicycled down to Mick's house with my bait caster over the handlebars and we set off for the creek. We had to be quiet as we approached "Big George's" lair cause the entryway was through "Evergreen Cemetery" and there was a burial service in progress when we arrived.

Except for a few of us kids, no adults ever fished this area of Otter Creek because of the cemetery. Reckon they thought it might look out of sorts to be parking a vehicle there and then commence to drag fishing gear etc. out instead of respectfully trooping over to the family plot to pay respects.

Mick and I proceeded to the far end of the gravel roadway, stowed our bikes in the high grass and carefully walked through the screen of blackberry bushes to the high-banked spot where we had seen "Big George" on numerous occasions.

The creek was it's usual chocolate hue after a heavy overnight shower; but, that would only serve to shield us from the glassy-eyed monster that we sought.

An hour of 'crawlers did nothing to arouse the prize we were after and only resulted in a few small perch and an occasional pumpkinseed.

Mick finally reached into his pocket and pulled out a paper bag.

"What's you got there, I asked?"

"This is what will get him," he proudly intoned, and held up a large red and white "Daredevle" spoon festooned with the wickedest looking set of treble hooks you ever saw.

Mick tied it to his twenty-pound test mono and heaved it almost the breadth of the river. The second retrieve across was accompanied by a large swirl just as the spoon was lifted up the high bank and out of the water.

"Holy crap! Did you see that," Mick screamed.

"Quick, throw it back in and reel faster this time," was my reply.

Mick almost hooked a huge river willow on the far side in his excitement; but, was able to avoid it and started pumping that reel like a runaway locomotive.

Halfway to the bank a humongous, toothy, white snout parted the water and started to gain on the rapidly churning spoon. To our twelve year old eyes it looked like a giant alligator about to crunch another hapless critter that wandered into its lair unwarned.

With one snap of the jaws, Mick's red and white spoon disappeared and "Big George" turned with his meal firmly attached to the left side of his lower lip. Mick cranked that reel and we both prayed that those razor teeth wouldn't part his line. After about three or four minutes; at least an hour in our mind's eye, the battle was almost over. However, we had forgotten how high and slippery the banks around "Big George's" hidey hole actually were.

"Mick, how are you gonna get him up the bank?"

"Here, hold the pole," was the reply as Mick proceeded to reach for the holster on his belt, withdraw his ever present, serrated edged "Buck" knife; placed it between his teeth and dove off the bank into the river!

He surfaced, blowing chocolate water through mouth and nose, and swam to the bank where I was holding "Big George" fearful that he would break the line at any minute.

Mick wrapped his left arm around the middle of the pike and began flailing away with his Bowie sized blade.

On about the tenth thrust he happened to whack "Big George" right between his malevolent eyes and the battle slowed considerably after that.

Mick grabbed "George" by the gill plate and tail and between us both we were able to slide him up the muddy bank. I had to get a long tree limb to hoist Mick up and he finally made it out. He looked like one of Willy Wonka's chocolate "hump-a-lumpa's" after a candy bath.

I ferried the rods home while Mick, with "Big George" proudly lashed to the handlebars of his fender less Schwinn, air-dried his soaked butt on the ride home.

We went to the woodshed behind Mick's house where he tacked "Big George" to the wall with a six-inch spike. "He" measured out at thirty-nine and a half inches and weighed a magnificent seventeen pounds four ounces.

Mick was the hero of the neighborhood for the rest of the summer and his tale of the mighty adventure wasn't doubted; with a witness for the prosecution, yours truly, and a totally river mud slimed outfit to compliment the occasion.

And that's how Mick came to be "Tarzan" forevermore in our little world! ~ RT


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