There are two primary things I’ve enjoyed most of my life. The first is fishing. And I’ve always loved my cars. They have survived through just about every era of my life. Fishing of course came first. I started that when I was a very little boy. I believe I was about 6 or 7 years old when my dad bought me my first rod & reel. I lived about 6 blocks from Miller Park Lagoon at about 27th and Kansas Ave. I would get up early and walk there by myself and fish much of the mornings away. One of my earliest fishing experiences opened my heart to the existence of God. I arrived at the lagoon while it was still dark and I saw two large fish swimming around close to the shore. I prayed that God would let me catch those two carp. They were about 2 or 3 pounds each. I sat there all morning long and got distracted with friends that would come by and by walking up to the clubhouse for bubble gum from the penny machine. At around 10am, my line spun out fast and sure enough, I caught a 3 pound carp. I set my lines back out and went to play around some more. It was several hours later that the same thing happened and I caught a 2nd carp. By that time I had forgotten all about my early morning prayer, but as I was walking home carrying those two fish on my stringer along with my rod and reels a car stopped by and the driver said, “well, it looks like you had a very lucky day.” It was then that I remember that I had prayed to catch those two fish. I could never prove that the two fish I caught and you see me holding in this picture were the same two I saw playing when I arrived, but you’ll never convince me that they are not. These were the first of very many fish taken out of Miller Park, Carter lake,  Fremont Lakes, and even the Missouri river. Carp are not the most desirable fish, I agree, but I would always bring them home anyway and my mom would bury them in her rose garden. She had the most beautiful roses in the neighborhood. I caught carp from that little lagoon at miller park all the way through my elementary years. Every time Dad was home he’d make me hold it up and take my picture. He’d often hold it up himself or get Dave or Rita to do it also. It always made me proud to bring fish home that I had caught even if they mostly ended up in my mom’s rose garden.

Some of my happier moments in life were sitting by the lagoon at Miller Park or on the river or at Carter Lake and waiting for a bite. There was something about it that really satisfied me. I had learned how to make a special dough ball that would catch carp when no one else was catching a thing. I was 12, Harry was 82, and we met at Miller Park.  We would see each other fishing and I’d catch a carp and he’d watch me put down my pole and run to the shore and pick it up by hand because I didn’t have a net. I caught so many this one day that he started coming over and netting the fish for me. Then when he caught one I’d go net his. We just hit it off. When some older kids were fishing there one day and he got a big carp on the line, one of the older boys came over and grabbed his net and ran down to the bank and Harry (my old friend – I never learned his last name – or I can’t remember it) yelled at him to give me the net and get out of my way. He said I was the only one who knew how to do it right. Of course, he was the one who taught me. He’d keep his carp in gunny sacks tied to the bank with a long rope. I used to keep mine on a stringer, but within an hour or two they’d die, but they’d live all day long in a gunny sack that was thrown out into the water. He taught me how to make dough ball. Over the memorial day weekend several years ago, I made a batch of that dough ball and Kathy and Chuck3, and I caught 20+ carp from the lakes at Desoto Bend. We had a riot.

Here’s how you make my secret dough ball: First you get the four simple ingredients. You need a can of cream style corn, flower, sugar, and yellow cornmeal. You dump the corn into a microwavable bowl then use the can as a measuring cup. Put one cup sugar. It’s important to put the sugar in first and stir it in good because the sugar serves to break down the corn. It stays real sloppy. Then a can of flower, stir again and finally a can of yellow corn meal. Now at this point it’s too sloppy still to use. So, if you use a normal sized can of cream style corn, you nuke it for five minutes on high. Then you take it out and stir it up good. You’ll see that the edges are beginning to solidify but you need to mix it all back together. Give it another five minutes in the microwave. Let it set for 30 minutes! It will be too hot to handle. Got a container, coat the container with flower and cornmeal mix and then put half the dough ball in that container. I use coffee cans. Then when you have half of the mixture in the can, put a shallow layer of flower and cornmeal again and put the rest of it in the container.  Cover your hook with about a large marble size of dough ball and catch yourself some carp. We usually just let them go, but if you’ve never hooked and landed a carp on a rod and real with 10 pound test line, you’re missing one of the funnest experiences of fishing. We usually just let the fish go. it’s too much work trying to eat them. We’d much rather buy it from Joe Tess in South Omaha if we’re going to eat Carp. I still like to catch carp today. You have to be patient, but it’s a great way to fish. You put the dough ball on your hook (I usually put my weight at the bottom of the line & use two hooks about 8 inches apart with leaders tied off with the line itself), throw the line in the water, put the rod in a rod holder. You better do that because if you get a carp and you’re not watching he’ll take your rod and reel right into the lake. I’ve lost no less than 3 rods and reels that way. And you sit and wait! I like to wait. I read books, I listen to music, I write notes for sermons, I just daydream and sometimes I just take a nap. If I don’t catch anything in two hours, I bait the hooks again and repeat. I’ve never spent 4 hours fishing without catching a carp. Even when no one else is catching them! Give it a try and let me know how you do. We taught the boys how to do it early in life and when they were really young they both caught carp with our secret dough ball.  I’ll still go sit at Desoto Bend by myself and just enjoy the outdoors and throw my line in with dough ball on it. One batch of Dough ball lasts me all summer. Just refrigerate it and it will keep. You might have to mix in a little water in a baseball size clump to bring it back to life, but I’ve noticed that the older it is the better the fish like it!

Fishing remained an important hobby for me even when I got married because my wife is the best partner in the world. I don’t think she naturally loved fishing, but because I did, she did too! We’ve had some of our best memories around fishing. It really took off for us when we were in Corpus Christi. We learned how to sail line fish there. There’s a movie posted in my family movies section from 1974 with Kathy and I sail fishing. It was a lot of fun and you can see what it was like there if you’re interested. When my dad and mom came to visit us in 1973, over Christmas, we took him fishing and we caught the best speckled trout ever. He was so impressed with the sail line fishing that he just couldn’t stop talking about it. Believe me, we’ve caught a lot more than just carp. I don’t think there’s a fish we’ve not caught: Trout, drum, catfish, bass, crappie, blue gill, sun fish, bull head, king salmon (in Alaska), gar, sturgeon, eels, ribbon fish, gaftop, sting ray, red fish, red snapper, ocean bass, groupers, sheeps head, flounder, angel fish, dog fish, you name it, I’ll bet I’ve caught one!

In Corpus we not only caught many speckled trout with the sail lines, we also caught them on rods and reels as well using live shrimp as bait. We’d wade out into the gulf and cast out and on a good day we’d catch a dozen speckled trout in about an hour or so. More than enough! We always had our freezer full! Unlike the carp, these trout were the best eating fish in the world. We’ve never eaten a better fish! If you like fish, you’d love them. We had many a meal with fillets of speckled trout, mac & cheese, and corn! I get hungry just thinking about it. We also would catch a lot of what we called “Red Fish” in Corpus Christi Bay. I think they were Ocean Bass. You could recognize them with the big black dot on their tail. They were good eating also.

It’s interesting that we didn’t do any fishing in Hawaii. You’d think that would have been a great place, but it just didn’t materialize for us. I did some fishing off the fantail of my ship while deployed a little and caught some extremely exotic fish while we were in Midway Island. We were warned not to eat them because they could have been poisonous. We’ve also had the privilege of taking a tour to Alaska and when the Liner pulled into Ketchican we hired a fishing boat and spent a whole day catching king salmon. Wow, that was an experience. I was afraid we’d go out and not catch anything, but the skipper guaranteed it. He needn’t bothered, we caught dozens of them and some other strange fish as well. Kathy really did well also. Once from Corpus Christi we took an all day deep sea fishing trip. I got sea sick! Yes, I know, but Kathy didn’t and she caught some great red snapper. She also landed the biggest King Salmon when we were fishing in Alaska also. She’s become a pretty good fisher woman.

We’ve taken TJ (our grandson) fishing with us a few times. He’s 8 years old now and is just about the age where he really enjoys it. He enjoys it if we’re catching something. He get’s bored real fast yet. We took him to a friends pond up in Tekamah, NE and we had a great day there. We all caught all the Crappie and sunfish and I even hooked a nice bass, but we let him go. TJ was catching all kinds of sunfish and blue gill and he even fell into a school of Crappie and caught some of those too. I think he really liked it.

I’ve also had the privilege of going ice fishing on a couple occasions and caught some pretty good Crappie and huge blue gill and sunfish. The expert fisherman who took me with him even cleaned them for us and let us have them to eat. They are some of the best eating fish also. We broil them with garlic salt, adolfs seasons, and pepper. We coat the pan with “I can’t believe it’s not butter” spray and it takes only a few minutes. They are wonderful. This friend has all you need to ice fish. He has a cabin that you take out on the lake, set up, light the heater, and fish through holes in the ice about a foot around that he cut with a gas powered auger.

I could go on and on and on, but I’ll close with the most recent catch. It was a nice little bass at JD & Angie’s new house site in Valley, NE. They are building a house on a lake out there and although the house isn’t finished we still went fishing one day. We were only there for about an hour or so and Kathy caught a nice sized channel catfish, JD caught several sun fish, and hooked a really nice bass. I’m looking forward to more fishing when they get moved in. Who knows, maybe I’ll go sooner than that. Well, anyway, we really enjoy fishing. Even while I was in Seminary when we lived in the country near Grand Saline, TX there was a pond behind our house. I was home schooling the boys during those days and we would often take the afternoons off and go fish in the pond. We caught some pretty nice Crappe and bass from that pond. JD caught the biggest bass. I think it scared him when he caught it.

Well, I guess I could go on, but I hope you got the idea. We enjoy fishing when we get the chance. If and when I retire, I expect it to become an important part of my life again.