We went fishing a lot that summer. Not wanting to jinx our new-found good luck, Mark started off each trip by sticking his face in the water and whispering here fishy, fishy, fishy, and each time we were not disappointed. We caught and released bass, trout, pickerel, and other assorted species, all larger than the ones we usually caught. I told fishing friends about this trick and they would tag along just to watch Mark perform his magic ritual. We became kind of famous with the locals but also earned some strange looks from other fishermen. I didn’t care because it was Mark getting his face wet (not me!) and most importantly we were catching fish!
They say all good things must come to an end, however, and our good fortune ended the day we went fishing for pike in the Housatonic River. Those familiar with the river know it was infamous for being very polluted. It’s somewhat better now but still kind of scary. We arrived at a part of the river called Oxbow in Sheffield, carried our tackle down the steep bank, and prepared to go after giant pike. I looked at the slow-moving muddy water and then at Mark, he looked at the water and then at me and said no way! I couldn’t blame him, the water even smelled bad. We didn’t catch any fish that day and that broke our string of good luck. A few weeks later Mark moved north with his family and we had to stop fishing together – the end of a sacred tradition.
I sometimes drive by the boat launch where our tradition began . . . hapless Mark with his face in the water whispering here fishy, fishy, fishy, and to this day I still break out laughing. The Fish Whisper will always live on in my memory and probably in a few of the fish’s memories as well!
~ Michael Romano, a Great Barrington, MA, resident for almost 40 years, is an avid fisherman who in his own words “kind of treats fishing as a contact sport and has had more than a few misadventures in the process.” He has fished many local waters and also enjoyed quite a few saltwater trips. Michael is a retired chef – he and his wife Susan worked at the now closed Kolburne School in New Marlborough, MA, for many years where he enjoyed taking many of the students fishing.
Read this article in the May-June 2017 issue of Our BerkshireTimes Magazine.