By Karl Terry: PNT managing editor
Scanning through the classified section the other day, a curious ad from an obviously down-on-his-luck dairyman caught my eye.
The ad read: Will sell Jersey or Holstein dairy cows, one to 100 head. Contact Travis Gossett. Reason for sale, going fishing.
OK, the ad was in the Jan. 9, 1961, Portales News-Tribune, and I was gathering items for the Portales Past box that runs on our front page every day, but for me it brought a flood of memories, and maybe it does for a few of you.
Travis and my dad were contemporaries and both have gone on to a fishin’ hole in heaven where every cast brings a fish to the net. But Travis, without a doubt, was one of several people in my life who instilled a desire to go fishing in my youth.
Travis was a big, tall farmer and cowman with a pot gut he got from his wife Alice’s home cooking, supplemented by never refusing a neighbor’s offer to come to the house for some dinner.
He usually wore a straw cowboy hat atop his blond shock that went gray early. In earlier years his jaw was always pooched with Redman tobacco when he pulled up whereever we were working on the farm. He would spit and offer his usual greeting in a Texas drawl that was so slow it seemed to take forever, “When are we goin’ fishin? I got my pole ready,” he would whine, motioning to the back of the pickup.
I remember talking to Travis about going fishing a lot more than I remember actually fishing with him. Both of our families worked long hard hours in the summer, irrigating crops. Once the weather got warm, Dad couldn’t take off for the lake unless we received enough rain to shut the irrigation pumps down for a few days. Our fishing trips, therefore, arrived as suddenly and unexpected as a summer thunderstorm.
Most of the time if we went fishing with the Gossetts, it was at Ute or Conchas lakes. We had a little boat, and they had a bigger one. We would go and camp out and have a great time together.
We had several families we went to the lake with over the years while we were growing up. I only remember taking one vacation that didn’t have a fishing spot as its destination, and we took a side trip on that vacation that netted a cooler full of fish.
A lot of our fishing trips were pretty laid back, and most of the time we never let a rod and reel get in the way of a good time. But fishing with Travis or my granddad Ruby was different — they were both pretty serious about the fishing part and that was OK with me. Still fishing with Travis could be pretty fun.
I remember one trip in particular. Travis talked us into a trip to the Sabinoso River in the rugged ranchland north of Logan. He’d been there before and promised the usual fisherman’s brag of the day, “a No. 2 washtub full of channel cats.” So off we went on an adventure.
To say this fishing hole was remote would be the biggest understatement ever made. The only person we saw after we turned off the highway was a Mexican ranchhand with a mule. To get the full story on the mule, you’ll have to talk to Travis’ son Greg, who can tell that tale better than I can.
After miles of rough-as-a-cob road, we arrived on the banks of the lazy Sabinoso. Lines were cast, trotlines were set and lies were told. The truth is the fishing wasn’t nearly as good as Travis advertised, certainly not worth selling your dairy herd for. But we had fish for the pan, the Gossett boys tied a snapping turtle to my dad’s pole when he wasn’t looking, and lots of memories were made.
If Travis rolled up in my driveway today and told me he was ready to go fishing, I would like to say I’d immediately get in the pickup with him and take off. Our lives are at least as busy as they were back then and sadly there’s not enough time to get out and do it. They’re so few and far between, every adventure made with good friends should be treasured.
Karl Terry is managing editor for the Portales News-Tribune. He can be contacted at 356-4483, ext. 33. His e-mail address is: