Printed September 24, 2019
When they don’t bite, use the Sisterhood of the Secret Fish Call
Roy and I began telling fish stories to one of our neighbors who came by to fish under our lights, when a faded reminiscence of the sublime Sisterhood of the Secret Fish Call worked its way into the conversation.
It’s not one of Roy’s favorite stories as the “Sisterhood” out-fished the guys that fateful day.
We often fished with Roy and Gwen Zettel before Roy Z started fishing for flounder in heaven. The guys had been fishing together longer than we women had known each other and had already adopted their private ritual of catching fish – just the right rod and reel, the precise bait or lure to snare their prey.
Gwen and I usually went along with their decisions on fishing trips, but there was one time drift-fishing Christmas Bay, when the Sisterhood of the Secret Fish Call was born of pure necessity.
The heat that day was stifling, the breeze powering the drift had died, and the four of us were sitting in the boat holding motionless rods. Before this trip, we traditionally sacrificed a sip of our Cokes to the “fish god” when things got slow. But that day, even that ritual failed. We needed to catch something or go home.
Baking in the boat was no fun at all. Not wanting to leave empty- handed, we lady anglers laughingly decided to do something which created the Sisterhood of the Secret Fish Call.
There was no drift, and nothing was biting. So, we reasoned, if you can whistle for a dog and get him to come, there must be a … fish call. We tried: “Here, fishy, fishy,” and even Gomer Pyle’s, “shazam!” Our efforts were ridiculed by the guys. But the sisterhood persevered, and the magic “doodle-e-bop” emerged. At least it brought laughter.
Without warning, my rod doubled over, line sang off the reel, and everyone was dancing around the boat, bringing in their lines as I battled the behemoth. I finally landed an 8-pound gafftop. Well, that fish call worked, we laughed. The fishing resumed - the sisterhood using, and the guys doubting - the fish call. Gwen intoned, “doodle-e-bop,” and her rod doubled over. Her battle with the giant fish was on. Still nothing for the guys. But then, they still scoffed at our fish call.
“I’ll show you how silly that fish call is,“ my Roy said, as he muttered the secret call. Then, for the first time that day, his rod sprang to life, doubling over as he wrestled a black-tip shark into submission.
After this, Roy Zettel sheepishly mumbled the secret call. But, being a non-believer – and a man, he was skunked that day.
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