In Mourning
Off the Wall, October 12, 2017

Recently fishers have been telling me they haven’t been getting any hits (bites) while fishing at St. Vincent’s Lake. Most of the anglers have been scratching their heads wondering what’s wrong. Recently, I was shockingly disturbed by what I learned.

It so happens that the fish are all fasting and in mourning as a result of hearing that “Carpmaster” Frank Miedel had passed away. One might say that fish don’t mourn people’s deaths. But we think like humans, not as fish. We also conduct our lives differently than those aquatic species, so who’s to say that wasn’t the reason no one was catching fish during the latter part of September?

No one was more familiar to that water basin than my friend, Frank. I would often call him up and what do you suppose we’d talk about – you guessed it – fishing, not at any ol’ place, but at the only place one may find him – at his favorite fishing spot along the shore of that Unity Township lake.

And as you can probably tell from his title, my fellow angler did not fish for anything that swims, but one particular species – carp. “I love fishing for car!” he would tell me. I believe it was a number of years ago when we made contact via Ma Bell when he excitedly told me that he had caught the most fish he had ever caught in one summer that year – ninety-five. “And they weren’t little fish either,” he stated.

Frank once told me upon questioning that he had a secret bait and I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone. Now that he has gone to meet the Creator who provided the fish for him to catch, I have told maybe three people, but that’s all. I’ve known the expression, “I’ll tell you a secret, but don’t tell anybody…” but I believe there must be more to it that most people leave out. “…until after I die.” Since I was not given permission to let the cat out of the bag, my lips are sealed and I definitely won’t go public with this information.

Every time I wrote a little blurb about the “Carpmaster,” and it was often for a number of years, Frank would tell me that each carp he caught was a little bit bigger than the last. And no, he neither kept one and it wasn’t the same one, you can be sure of that, at least in the course of a day.

Some days I would call their home and Frank’s wife, Bernice, would tell me, “Oh, he’s not here. He’s fishing. One wouldn’t have to ask the “W’s,” what, when, why, where and who, as we as reporters are taught to do. When Frank went fishing, all was self- understood.

There were times he would go by his lonesome and other times take a fishing buddy or some relatives along. One young lady told me at the funeral home that she used to accompany Frank when the two of them came into my fishing tackle shop. She described herself of being much younger and just a small child then. “I was always responsible for carrying the tackle box and the binoculars when we went out to the lake. They as mine now!”

I never asked him about his military service. As a fellow-fisher, that seemed to be the subject at hand. I did learn via his obituary write-up that he was a machine gunner in World War II. I wish he would have brought the subject up as I would have sincerely thanked him for protecting my freedoms.

His fervor for motorcycles or classic cars was also unknown. I wish he would have spoken of the passions as I would have shared my stories as riding my motorcycle particularly to photographically investigate accidents for three police agencies in the state of Ohio. Needless to say, I do have the stories, most of which I can’t tell because of the confidentiality clause affixed to the type of work I did as a police officer.

I also learned that Frank loved to watch planes at airports. Guess what? So did my father and so do I. Every Spirit that ascends that I can see from my tower (bedroom window), a certain excitement comes over me. How we could have shared…

I’m going to miss you, Frank . When I’m called up yonder, maybe God will let us spend some time together catching up. Already, I can hear you laughing…

- Paul J. Volkmann
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