After setting up camp we drove down Highway 51 looking for a little adventure. Scott was to join us later that evening. We spied an old pickup parked in a cozy turnout picnic area. I pulled up next to the pickup and asked the guy who was situating some fishing gear if he and his buddy (who was wetting down a tree a dozen yards away) if they could show these boys how to gut a fish. “They’d never seen it done” I told him.
“Emerson, have we got any fish to clean?”
I turned to the boys in the Trooper (I was driving my Trooper) “That guy’s named Emerson!”
Emerson turned his head around while finishing his business
“I ‘spose we do. Who’s askin?”
“These young fellers ain’t never seen a fish cleaned.”
“We got a couple fish to clean”
He called us over to a picnic table and unzipped a large canvas bag. He dumped 50 crappie out on the table. They were mostly dead but still flopping around on the table. The boys gasped. It’s surprising to see a pile of half-dead fish.Emerson laid one out on his wooden fillet board and held it down with a paper towel.
“The secret to a good fillet is to have a sharp knife and a sensitive hand”
Emerson pushed the blade down right behind the gills and slowly worked it down to the tail.
“If you do it right you can feel the rib cage. Run your blade along there. That’s when you know you got it right.”
The boys stood over him.
“This one’s still alive. It’s maybe a little inhumane to do it this way.”
Ray chuckled and we watched until the boys grew bored. We piled back into the Trooper and headed on down the Highway 51.
Tune in tomorrow for Part III