Fish Hogging on Muddy Creek

Whether using a willow sprout, hands or a pole, fishing was a popular past time on Muddy Creek

| May 2000

  • Growing up on Muddy Creek: Hogging Fish
    Growing up on Muddy Creek: Hogging Fish

  • Growing up on Muddy Creek: Hogging Fish

The word "fishing" in my day had several meanings. There was the pole fishing with a cane pole and a store bobber that the city folks used. Then there was the homemade braided thread line, the cork from a discarded whiskey bottle and a sinker that looked a lot like a nut from Dad's shop. The pole in this case was a freshly cut willow sprout. And none of that commercial bait either: A can of freshly dug worms from the coffee-ground soaked soil around the north well, or some night crawlers caught as they tried to cross the new cement driveway did very well. 

Then there were the fishing nets. Dad had one that he set at the mouth of Paul's creek. It was a hoop net with several round wooden loops that held a woven net through two funnels to reach some rotten corn that made good bait, but the fish would be unable to find the narrow reversed funnel and find the way out, and so were available when the net was lifted the next morning.

The homemade fish trap was a more permanent type of net, although it was usually made from chicken wire over a hickory frame. Dad had a couple of these and once caught Waldo Brian helping himself to a catch one morning. Waldo admitted that he had found the trap an easy way to get a few pond fish without the bother of catching them.

But the big fishing event was when several of the uncles and aunts would converge on the Piper farm and all the men folk, and some of the more adventurous girls, would don old shoes and overalls and head for the creek to "hog" 'em out. The first thing they did was to set a string seine across the creek under the bridge so any fish driven down would not find refuge in the water lilies that grew so profusely on the east side of the bridge. They would then go up Paul's creek about to the Sumner and Chauncey Roads and get in the water, maybe ten grown-ups and boys (me included), and walk or wade in the water with their hands down to feel the fish as they were found. They walked slowly and didn't splash nor talk so they just sorta drifted along and you could touch a big old buffalo, run your fingers up his side and poke your fingers into his gills and yank him out, and throw him into a gunny sack that someone was dragging along in the water and go for another. How some of those girls would squeal and break the code of silence when they felt a fish for the first time, but they soon became even better at the job than the menfolks. It is unbelievable that fish will allow a person to catch them this way, but they did. We called it "hogging," but there were half-a-dozen other names this form of fishing went under.

One thing you had to watch for was finding a big catfish and getting stuck with those bayonet-like fins. You soon learned to tell the slick skin of the cat from the fish with scales.

By the time the group had reached the big steel bridge, the gunny sack would be full and running over with "keepers," as many of the catch would be thrown back for future catching, or because they were "rough" fish, like the Hickory Shad that was so full of bones it could not be eaten. This was in the days when Muddy Creek was really unlike its name; the waters were clear and the pond lilies were beautiful this time of the year. Once in a while, you would step in a cast-off tin can that someone had carelessly tossed in after emptying it of bait. Old beer bottles were common, as the grove at Muddy Creek was a great place to hold parties, and "home-brew" was not an unknown beverage, but careless clutter like the pollution of today was unknown.


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