Tall Tales by Pistol Pete: “Trot-Line Fishing”

Rolla Goodnight and Frank Eaton at the Oklahoma State Capitol Building, 1950

Trot-line Fishing

Once upon a time Fred, Rolla Goodnight and myself thought we would do a little fishing.  So we made us a good boat about 14 foot long and four foot beam and also made a trailer to haul it on.  Then loading up our trot-lines, tools and bedding we all started down on the river to fish.  We put our boat in the water and it was in good shape and waterproof, then we started out to get some bait.

On the bank near us was a big cottonwood tree with a long straight limb sticking out and was about 15 feet long.  It showed marks of being the roosting place for wild pigeons but there were none there at the time.  Now trot-line fishing has its many difficulties and one of the worst is getting bait.

We scouted around not doing much good, for the Democrats had taken over and the jackrabbits were scarcer than hen’s teeth.  Finally Rolla killed a hawk and we baited up our lines and put them in the river.  We’d barely caught 100 lbs. of fish when we ran out of bait again, so I took my old six shooter and went down by the old cottonwood tree and there out on the long limb that I before-mentioned was 808 pigeons.  I know because I counted them.  It was easy.  I just counted their legs and wings and then divided by four.

I was careful not to scare them, slipped around so I was in a line with the limb and I shot at the end of the limb splitting it full length. As the surprised pigeons slipped into the cracked limb, it snapped shut on their toes and held them securely.  Then I picked off what I needed for bait and left the others, until we needed them, that way we had fresh bait for some time.

We caught several tons of fish, which we ate all up.

~ Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton

Originally published November 16, 1950 in The Perkins Journal

Other tall tales by Pete:

Studying Bed Bugs  and  The Toad and the Snake