Friday, June 12, 2009

I AM NOT A FISHERMAN, BUT TODAY I FISHED

Sam & I went saltwater fishing with my dad this morning...caught nothin' but it didn't seem to matter

I've had some success at fishing. A few times. I've been on fishing trips when we caught a mess of fish. I've landed some nice bass and trout in West Virginia streams and lakes. I even reeled in a 7-foot shark on a Florida deep sea fishing excursion (only to watch a crewman shoot it with a shotgun and cut the line).

But my few experiences of success at fishing are far outweighed by long hours and days of watching a bobber never bob. Whatever joy I momentarily experienced as a child and youth dissipated after repeatedly casting and reeling hours after hour only come up empty-handed. The idea of sitting still hours on end for small, unpredictable, and infrequent payoffs long ago lost its appeal to me.

I'm not sure when I gave up fishing. Sometime early in my teens. Fishing, I perceived, was not cool. Most of those I knew who fished were good-ol'-boy types--not folks I cared to hang around. And I was too fidgety to stick with fishing. Since a day of deep sea fishing when I was 16, I have hardly picked up a fishing rod. Our family has a boat and we've spent many fun hours plying lakes, and while we've taught the kids to tube, ski, slalom, and wakeboard, we've never but a hook and line in the water.

My dad is a fisherman. When I was a child, he patiently taught me how to fish, how to fillet fish, and how to use various kinds of tackle. At this point in his life, he says he'd rather be fishing than doing anything else. When he's on his boat in the intracoastal waterway or on a freshwater lake in Florida, where he's lived for the past 10 years, he's in his element. He also enjoys frying and sharing the fish he catches with his family and friends. We've always enjoyed the fruit of his labor of love.

Dad took my 16-year-old son Sam and me fishing early this morning. We launched his platform fishing boat into the intracoastal waterway and motored to his most successful fishing holes. After three hours and various locations, we had nothing worth keeping. I caught a couple of junk fish, dad caught another. Sam came up completely empty-handed. The trout we were after eluded us. Even at that, the experience wasn't bad. Being out there together, three generations sharing a common endeavor, seemed like a more important feat than any fish we might have reeled in.

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