When we were younger, my older brother hated to go fishing with me. Nonetheless, two or three times every summer, we’d go together anyway. Of course, we’d inevitably choose the most sweltering day of the year, when eggs fried in their shells long before they even got close to the sidewalk. So with our too-shaggy hair (as was the custom in the early 80’s) plastered by sweat to our foreheads, we’d grab our beginner’s thumb-button Zebco rod-n-reel combos and a small plastic box of tackle—which included a number of lures we’d never understand or use to any positive effect—and hike a mile or so up and across the “new road” (a four lane, divided highway, so think Frogger-with-fishing-poles) to our pond.
Our pond, of course, wasn’t so much actually ours as it was some farmer’s who we never saw. Frequently, cows would come to visit and hang out while we offered our bait to the water’s fishy denizens. They seemed unimpressed with out fishing prowess.
Did I mention that we might have had to climb a fence or two, at least one of which was barbed, to get there? In retrospect, it’s lucky we didn’t get shot.
Anyway, as I said before, my brother hated fishing with me. It’s not that I was troublesome or anything; I clearly wasn’t that kind of little brother. At least, I don’t remember it that way. I suppose he might have a different opinion.
He hated it, though (and will attest to this today, almost 30 years later), because I’d catch a bass or two in the first five minutes of our arrival, typically before he even had a line in the water. Of course, after my lightning-quick success, neither of us would get so much as a tiny bluegill nibble the rest of the day, no matter how long we
risked our young lives fishing in Farmer McShotgun’s pond stayed.
The best part of it for me was the pride I’d see later in the eyes of my grandfather, the same one who eventually gave up trying to teach me to color inside the lines, when he came over and gauged my hard-won (read: lucky) catch in the freezer. I didn’t see it at the time, but I realize now that there’s always been some innate connection between fishing and grandfathers.
My father, on the other hand, who had to clean said catch when we returned with a pair of stinking fish that had been flopping in the weeds of the pond-bank in the sun for two hours, was often less than thrilled.
I can’t say I blame him.
Which is, of course, why I was very glad to hear that yesterday’s Annual Cub Scout Fishing Derby would be catch-and-release. No bloody fish guts for me, thankyouverymuch!
The Puddinpop, Mini-Me, myself and their grandfather took our fishing poles and our tackle-box (which still has lures I don’t understand the use of) to a local apartment pond yesterday with the Pack, and we fished to our little heart’s content.
The weather was nearly perfect, albeit a tad gusty, but the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and at about 75 degrees, my hair wasn’t sticking to my forehead. Then again, I don’t really have too much hair anymore. Nothing’s been left to get sweat-plastered to my forehead for fifteen years.
At any rate, we didn’t catch much, just a couple of bluegill early in the day. But I still have my old touch. In fact, I managed to catch a fish with my first cast. I was intending to demonstrate to the Puddinpop how to cast with an open-faced reel, something he’d never used before. So I opened the bail, swung the rod, and loosed the bait into the choppy water.
Two seconds later, I was reeling in the only fish I’d catch all day—and it wasn’t even my rod.
The Puddinpop, of course, thought that catching a fish on a demonstration cast was the funniest thing he’d seen in a week.
I’m pretty sure that, this time, my brother, thirty years later, might have agreed with him.