Last night we had some visitors from New Mexico and I recommended a little night fishing trip on the Delaware River. No adults wanted any part of it, except me, but I had two children eagerly tag along. We loaded up the Santa Fe (I think the car really enjoyed having someone in it from the state of it’s namesake) and headed towards a little fishing spot that I call Fireman’s Eddy on the Delaware River. Fireman’s Eddy is on the Jersey side, about 2 or 3 miles south of Lambertville. You look for a little white bridge over the canal and follow the twists and turns until you emerge on a nice open spot where the road runs right into the river (if you’re wondering why the road goes right into the river, it is for people to back their boats into the water and deposit them into the river off their trailers). We pulled the car up so it faced the water, left the headlights on so I could tie knots, see the bait, and find my way around the river banks.
The bait of choice for night fishing for catfish is chicken liver. Catfish smell more than they see and chicken liver is one smelly bait. As I sit in a cubicle on my lunch break, I can still sniff my fingers and get a good whiff of the pungent catfish delicacy. In addition to its smell, chicken liver is a bloody mess, it is sold at Giant supermarkets in a little tupperware container for less than $2 a pint.
My rig is a little egg sinker that can slide up and down the line. It is helpful to have a sinker that can slide up and down so the catfish does not feel the weight when he picks the liver up off the bottom of the river. The sinker is stopped short of hitting the hook by a snap swivel and a leader and hook hang below the swivel. At first, I hooked up a big piece of liver and casted it way out into the river, almost immediately, the bait was tapped by a fish. The rod tip would bounce, indicating something was biting, every time I tried to yank the rod to hook the fish, the fish would quickly yank the bait off the hook and we came up empty over and over again.
The two kids told me scary stories, most notably the story of La Llorona (here’s Wikipedia’s version which is similar to what I heard from the kids last night):
La Llorona is Spanish for “the weeping woman,” and is a popular legend in Spanish-speaking cultures in the Americas, with many versions. The basic version is that La Llorona was a beautiful woman who killed her children to be with the man that she loved and was subsequently rejected by him. He might have been the children’s father, and left their mother for another woman, or he might have been a man she loved, but who was uninterested in a relationship with a woman with children, and whom she thought she could win if the children were out of the way. She drowned the children then killed herself, and is doomed to wander, searching for her children, always weeping. In some cases, according to the tale, she will kidnap wandering children.
The story I heard last night had a small twist on it. The difference was that if you’re ever at a river alone at night, she will find you and drown you too.
So, after being scared to death by two kids telling creepy stories, we finally hooked onto something. I handed the rod over to one of the children and after a long struggle, an eel emerged from the depths of the Delaware. Eels are slimy, eels are slippery, eels are about the grossest thing a fisherman has to deal with. The roll themselves up in balls and tangle themselves in the fishing line and leave a coat of disgusting slime on anything they touch. I wrestled with the eel for awhile, snapped a picture of the proud kids and released the eel back into the water.
We caught an even bigger eel which needed both kids working together to reel in (one held the rod, the other reeled) and I caught a small striped bass.
It was a good night, I think they loved fishing and I loved hearing the story.
If you are ever by the river at night and hear someone crying…RUN!!!