The ½ acre pond in the middle of the farm where I grew up was often a gathering spot for the family. Back then I owned a big old prehistoric aluminum canoe with a ridge formed into the hull at the water line, making it extra stable and easy to fish from. This ridge also stabilized the canoe during rounds of “bluegill batting.”
Back in the day, the Ohio wildlife and parks guys thought the perfect formula for stocking every farm pond was a combination of largemouth bass and bluegills. Bluegills seem to reproduce like rabbits, and after a few years, a pond will contain enough big bass to keep the bluegill population in check. Until then, however if enough bluegills aren’t regularly removed, they can quickly fill a pond with dinky, undersized fish.
Dad’s pond was loaded with tiny, pesky bluegills that flew quite nicely when thrown into the air and hit with a canoe paddle; a farmer’s sport invented by us and possibly a good candidate for an Olympic sport, known as “Bluegill Batting.” When anchored from one end, a canoe pivots and swings back and forth in the wind, so to prevent that, I had rigged an anchor at each end of mine; one was a conventional boat anchor, and the other was a big, heavy, round, steel ball of some sort. As I remember it, this particular evening my sister’s husband and I were anchored out in the pond fishing from my canoe, and the rest of the family were fishing from the bank. The old canoe was extra wide and roomy, so we had tackle boxes sitting open on the seats. Come dusk, given the absence of stadium lights around the pond, both the fishing and bluegill batting events were over for the evening, so we pulled the anchors to head for shore. I lifted the boat anchor with no problem, but the big steel ball on my brother-in-law’s end of the craft seemed to have gotten sucked into the black, oozy mud on the bottom of the pond. In an attempt to dislodge the thing, he leaned forward nearly to the water, got several wraps of the rope around his hand then leaned backwards, putting all his weight into the extraction. He was built like a wrestler, short and stocky, so when the ball suddenly came free, he hit the other side of the canoe like a rodeo bull! The sudden weight shift was too much for even my old canoe with the ridge at the water line, and we were soon in the drink next to the overturned canoe and amidst a sea of floating fishing tackle. This should definitely become an Olympic sport. Sure, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte can swim like the wind, but how would they fare after being unceremoniously flung from a capsized canoe into a floating mass of razor sharp treble hooks? I can see it now; the one to reach the far end of the pond with the fewest fishing lures hanging from his back would win the gold!
Farm-pond diving should be another Olympic sport. The diving board at our pond was a big ole’ barn plank, resting on a platform welded from old pipe and carried to the pond with the manure loader. The plank was held on the other end by a big rock dug from the field. There was not much need to bounce on the end of the plank when diving, because there was absolutely zero spring to it. It was more like plank-platform diving. The degree of difficulty was always high; once my buddy Ralph ran to the end of the plank and jumped as hard as he could and I watched as the plank followed him end-over-end into the pond because the rock had somehow gotten moved.
So there you have my recommendations for additional summer Olympic events in 2016; bluegill batting, farm pond diving and whatever you’d call being forced to swim through a floating fishing tackle flotilla after being thrown from a sinking canoe. Good stuff! By the way, I’ll be available to coach the bluegill batting squad. Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors
Steve can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org