Verde River Fishing


ne summer Dad was down at Mesa He asked Bus and me if we wanted to go with him to the Verde River, as he wanted to look at a turquoise mine. I was 9 and Bus was 13. He told Mom and she said we needed a good outing with him. We left next morning before daylight, went down a dry wash for miles and came out on the Verde at a cattle ranch. Dad asked the owner how to get to the mine. He said there was a tall peak with a rock wall around where it sloped, on the other side is a cliff all around and at the bottom by the river was a big Indian ruin. "You can't miss it," he said, "but you better stay all night. I need a bit of company." He picked up his rifle and said he was going to shoot a big fish. He asked Dad to build a fire and get the fish pan ready. Bus wanted to go with him and he agreed. When we got to the river the man walked a little bit ahead. We heard him shoot and then saw a big Whitefish floating around. We grabbed it and cleaned it. It was over 30 inches long and boy was it good eating.

We left real early in the morning, found the ruins and the hill. We asked Dad if we could go up to the wall on top. He said "Okay, but be careful and don't mess around the cliffs." We both got all of our pockets full of arrowheads from the walls. Later we went swimming in the deep hole in the river. We saw a cave above us, climbed up and went in. We saw a huge bee hive in the back. We dove in the hole below, dressed and found Dad to tell him about the bees. The next morning we set out to get the honey in a five gallon can. He told us to stay at the entrance while he went in to see if he could get the honey.

We heard something and out came Dad running and hollering, "Jump into the river!" I jumped but before Bus could make the river he got stung several times. Bus was pretty teed off at Dad and asked him why he laid down instead of running. Dad's reply was, "I thought you could run a damn sight faster than I could." While we were busy with the bees and getting out of the water, Dad went back into the cave and filled the five gallon pail with honey.

Bus and I had been griping about not catching any fish. Dad said we would get a good batch tomorrow and salt them down to take home to Mom. The next morning he sent us down below the deep hole we had been swimming in, and told us to stand on the sand bar, not in the water. The next thing we heard was a big bang and water shot up. Dad yelled for us to get in the river and start throwing them out. Great big whitefish came floating down "belly-up." We were busy. Some of them would come to when we grabbed them and it was a job to hang on as several were 24 to 30 inches long. We really got a bunch! We cleaned them and salted them and put them in a canvas. Dad had thrown two sticks of dynamite, one in each end of the deep hole. It killed a few of the fish, but most were just stunned and we could throw them out. Bus and I had a ball. We left for home the next morning. The turquoise mine wasn't too good.