My idea of a successful fishing trip is to settle in under a shady tree next to a fish pond, caressed by a gentle breeze, with a good book and read, uninterrupted, for hours with nary a tug on a fishing line to disturb me.
I realize that many may scratch their heads at my vision, including my daughter.
All year, at least since spring time and sunshine began teasing us, she has been asking about going fishing. I keep referring her to Daddy, but she keeps returning to me. One recent Sunday afternoon she and I had a girls’ day on our own, and we ended up at the Rotary Gardens.
While there we spotted fishermen.
“I want to fish.”
“I don’t have a pole.”
“Let’s get a stick,” and she immediately procured a nice, sturdy stick from the path. “Now I need string.”
“I didn’t bring any string.” I shrugged.
“Let’s use a vine. Can we use that one?” She pointed to a vine growing wild along the floor of the woods.
I ripped a section for her and tied one end to her pole.
“Now we need bait,” she said, “how about a leaf. Here’s a nice one.” She bent down and picked up a cottonwood leaf near her.
So I tied the leaf on the other end of the vine, and we found a fishing spot. She stayed in that spot for an hour trying to catch a fish. I’ve never seen her do ANYTHING for an hour, much less something unsuccessful. Of course during that hour she told every passing stranger, and there were several, all about her make-shift fishing rod. And she pointed out the algae growing up from underneath the water—looking like abandoned castles that might be haunted by ghost shrimp. And we watched a feather glopped up with cottonwood seeds float down from a tree and settle onto the pond surface then sail away, looking like a white pirate ship on a dark glassy ocean.
When we finally left Rotary Gardens, my daughter was sad. She had not caught any fish, and I suspect something else was on her mind.
“Would you like to see if we can find a real rod and reel for you?” I asked.
“Yes! And then can we come back and go fishing again?”
“Well, maybe we can work something out.”
So we went shopping and purchased a Barbie rod and tackle box and some hooks, bobbers and sinkers, and of course some pink, sparkly fake bait.
The next evening she practiced casting the line, but not the pole, in the front yard, using the casting weight supplied with the pole. And later I set up a fishing date—for the free fishing weekend with Grandma and Papa in Rock Cut State Park in Illinois.
And so we spent the week excitedly awaiting our fishing date. When she awoke at 6:00 am on Sunday, she cheerily said to me “Hey there fisher girl!”
Truthfully, in spite of the really nice rods that I rescued from the basement and that Papa dragged down from the attic after 18 years of disuse, the only rod and reel set we had working well on Sunday was the Barbie rod. Sigh. And also truthfully the fish were really biting…our worms right of the hooks.
But that isn’t how a fishing tale goes is it? Truthfully, I mean.
‘Cause man you should’ve seen the one that slipped off the hook just as she was reeling it in. Her first fish too…a muskie as long as she is tall…a state record, I’m sure. But he was jumping so hard, and fighting; it was all she could do to hang on to the rod. That fish just snapped the line and swallowed it hook, line and sinker. It was a beaut.
Oh well, there are other fish in the lake, and I’m sure my daughter will find them. Meanwhile, I did not manage to get any reading done…
©2012 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.