I just got back from an atlatl fishing expedition out in western Kentucky. The first night out, we went with Joe Ewing on his Super Galactic Chronosynclastic Magnatronic Fan Boat. It was a great experience mixing the high tech fishing boat with the atlatl. We went both forward and backward in time to capture living creatures of the deep in the Cumberland River.
Joe piloted the boat over the rippled surface of the dark water then would give us the signal: “ready?” When the lights went on, darts plunged into the water usually creating a piscatorial eruption and an instant tightening of the retrieval lines.
Soon there was only the little round red and white float attached to the end of the line in my left hand. When the fish was large enough or strong enough sometimes I had to release the float and retrieve it later after the fish was out of fight. The line made a zinging sound as the fish attempted to make a retreat for the bottom but the barbs of the harpoon did not release the hold until the catch was safely in the boat.
We landed Spoonbill Catfish, Asian Carp, and Buffalo Fish all edible species of top feeding, plankton nourished fish. The Spoonbill Catfish isn’t a catfish at all but an ancient fish probably more related to the shark than anything else. It has cartilage vertebrae and no bones. The slimy smooth skin like a catfish and lack of bones makes the Spoonbill far easier than a catfish to clean and prepare for the table. After gutting and removing the head, I sliced the meaty body like a fishy loaf of bread in pieces about an inch thick each. I grilled some of the steaks and deep fried some in olive oil. My favorite Cajon seasonings and a garnish of lemon brought dinner up to kingly status. Glasses of chardonnay rang like small bells over the table as we retold our hunting and fishing stories for the umpteenth time.
I reminisce with great satisfaction the many atlatl hunting and fishing trips I’ve gone on over the years with my friends from Kentucky. The Adams Family and Leggs White who survive my good friend Wendell (better known as Big Wooly) who passed on a couple of years ago form the core of the people I enjoy spending the weekend of the Kentucky Derby with. It’s a tradition I hate to miss.