I had dreamed of this event for years and it finally happened, I took my grandchildren fishing over the weekend. The old fashioned kind of fishing; in a pond with red and white bobbers, lead weights, hooks, and worms; slimy, crawly, wiggly, giant night crawlers. And like I remembered from the time when I was a boy; worms attract fish, especially the sunfish found in most ponds. But what I had forgotten was, catching fish this way is really hard!
When I was twelve years old, my good friend Jim and I would gather up our earthworms, tackle boxes, sack lunches and fishing poles and trek the one mile west on Fairview Avenue until we reached the railroad tracks. From there we would turn north and walk another hundred yards to our secret pond; one we named Rosebush. Getting to the pond through all the briars and brambles was a chore, but we didn’t let a few scratches deter us; we had fish to catch. And slaughter the fish we did; filling our stringers to the point it was a struggle lugging them back home. I remember how hungry the fish were and how when the bobber landed on the water it was immediately pulled under and how too many times our timing was off and we would set the hook too late or too early. We eventually learned the technique and became quite successful; catching Pumpkinseeds, Long Ear, Bluegill, Redbreast, Green and all other subspecies of the sunfish family.
My son Christopher and I were a little nervous about taking Jake and Cara with us; he’s not yet five and she just turned three. Christopher was also skeptical we would even catch anything in the retention ponds that surround my neighborhood. A couple of days earlier Christopher had purchased Jake’s first fishing pole; one of those little three foot, themed for a kid models. We decided to bring along our poles; just in case.
Once at the pond, we readied the poles and then opened up the Styrofoam container of worms. Jake wanted nothing to do with the slimy critters, but Cara was fearless and dug one out of the dirt and proceeded to study it; fascinated by the wiggly, tube-shaped, segmented worm. Once we cast them out into the shallow water, we immediately started getting bites. “Kids, look at the bobber, there it goes, wait, wait, pull, pull, ah, you missed it!” After a few misses by both of us, Christopher finally hooked one and let Jake reel it in. Shortly after, I hooked one and this scenario played out over and over for the next couple of hours. I was so excited I forgot we were there for the kids and it took a lot of effort for me to hand my pole off to the grand-kids and let them reel the fish in. They each “landed” a number of fish before we were through and Jake actually went through the entire process of casting, setting the hook, and reeling the fish in entirely on his own. And just like I remembered from all those years ago, catching fish this way takes skill and patience, but after a few misses we finally got the hang of it.
When it came time to get the fish off the hook and release them back into the pond, Jake again wanted nothing to do with them, but Cara, ever fearless, grabbed the fish and attempted to throw them back in. At one point she had a fish in both hands and as she reached back over her head to throw it, the fish slipped out and landed on the ground behind her; flopping around in the green grass, with Jake jumping as far away from the distraught fish as possible.
We eventually became hungry and dusk had arrived so we packed up our gear and went back to Gigi’s for some pizza. We were all hungry from being in the fresh outdoor air and the four of us spent the next hour eating pizza and telling tall tales of our fishing exploits. I have to say, it was a blast for me to see the look on my grand-kids faces as we caught fish after fish and they experienced something for the first time that I had when I was a kid, just like them. And oh, by the way, it was also a blast for me because I was catching fish; who cares if they were only six inches long.