The other day I was engaged in a conversation with a few people regarding the never before seen bodies of water, that are to be found everywhere in the southeast corner of our province this spring, when the subject of fish and fishing came up. Apparently some fish have been moving from body of water to body of water, during this spring’s flooding, resulting in fish being found in ponds and sloughs which normally wouldn’t have any fish in them at all. This is big news to people who actually fish, I guess, but I do not fish, so the tidbit of information was interesting enough but not completely compelling to me.
Well, you should have seen the look of incredulity on the faces of the other conversationalists, who happen to be avid fishing enthusiasts, when they found out that I had only gone fishing maybe four times in my life. You know the look. That look people get on their faces when they find out you don’t share their love of turnips, say, or Canadian rye whiskey, or American Idol.
“How can you not love ______________?!” (Fill in the blank with one or all of the following: fishing, turnips, rye, Idol…), you are asked by someone with their eyes bugging out and their eyebrows lifted to the top of their foreheads!
I was reminded of a conversation that I had had with one particular brother-in-law of mine who was Mr. Outdoors, you know, fishing, hunting, trapping, canoeing etc. after he found out that my son, who was then nearing ten years old, and I hadn’t gone fishing together yet. I responded that I was nearly forty years old (at that time) and my Dad hadn’t taken me fishing yet! You cannot pass on a skill that you never really learned, can you?
I have joked with others that my theory on why my Dad never took any of his nine kids fishing was because his fishing and hunting trips were to give him a break from his children! Truth be told, I am not exactly sure why Dad never took any of his kids fishing but my guess would be that watching a bunch of children around open water or in a boat with sharp hooks, filleting knives, fishing rods and fishing lines flying to and fro would be a far cry from the relaxing experience that he was seeking.
Based on my four real experiences with fishing I’m not all that broken up about Dad not sharing his fishing time with me. Besides, we found other ways to bond. Dad would often hit high flies to my brother Gord and me for hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon and how many hours did we spend in front of the TV during Hockey Night in Canada, feasting on popcorn or Mom’s cinnamon buns, sharing the love of the Leafs and the hatred of the Habs. One time Dad brought home a broken down old bicycle that he spent the entire weekend refurbishing for me. Man, did I put the miles on that one!
Although my first three fishing experiences were filled with boredom, sun burning, smelly slimy stuff, more boredom, mosquito attacks and an empty fishing line, solidifying my thinking that this is a huge time waster, the last fishing experience that I enjoyed was…well…enjoyable. You see, I finally got to share that father-son fishing time with our son Nolan.
Back in the 90’s, when the kids were little, we were staying at some friends’ cottage at Crooked Lake when Nolan discovered a fishing rod in their tool shed.
“Dad, lookit this!!,”-he cried out, “ Can we go fishing?”
I started mumbling about fishing licenses and bait and trying to be nonchalant about my fishing ignorance when I thought, Oh, what the hell? What are the chances of catching anything anyway, right?
So I found a plain hook in the tackle box, tied it to the line and, lacking anything wormlike, I attached a piece of steak gristle, leftover from supper, onto the hook and we made our way down to the dock.
I let Nolan cast the line out, thinking he’d be pulling weeds around for a while, ‘til he got bored, and then we could move on. Well, well, wouldn’t you know it; we snagged a nice sized perch. Now what? I didn’t have anything to club the flopping creature with but luckily there were some other kids fishing off the dock that helped us out.
Fortunately Nolan and I got our picture taken with the prize because it turns out that it was the one and only fish that we have ever landed together. We tried and tried to get another one on that vacation, but as fate would have it, that one exciting catch was all that we were allowed. It was all we ever needed.
“Dads are stone skimmers, mud wallowers, water wallopers, ceiling swoopers, shoulder gallopers, upsy-downsy, over-and-through, round-and-about whooshers. Dads are smugglers and secret sharers.”—Helen Thomson.