To call it a “fishing trip” might be just a little pretentious. We went to Kids Creek Pond to try out my son’s new spinning rod. He had just received it for his birthday. The pond is a nice little puddle of water; It is landscaped with large rocks, little wooden bridges, and features a floating dock. The pond is stocked with trout and, occasionally, Steelhead. The Steelhead come from the nearby hatchery and have already spawned.
(M)angling With Worms
Armed with his rod, reel, tackle box and a fresh carton of wriggly night-crawlers, Mason strode purposefully out onto the dock. He assessed the angle of the sun and wind speed before attaching a bobber and split shot weight to his line. He takes angling very seriously for a 10 year old.
Watching him work, I asked, “Don’t you think that hook is a little large?” (I really didn’t know; I was just making conversation.) With a sigh and slight eye-roll, he paused his work to educate me, “I want the hook large enough that a trout won’t easily swallow it. That way I can release it and catch it again. It also has to be big enough for a Steelhead.” I heard the unspoken “Duh!”.
He then dug a writhing, searching earthworm from the Styrofoam container filled with dirt. He stretched it out and squinted appraisingly at its form like a sommelier examining a new vintage. With a maniacal gleam in his eye, he quickly pulled the worm in half squirting worm goo into my open mouth. I collapsed to the dock coughing and gagging, scraping my tongue with my fingernails. I even licked the rough boards that comprised the deck surface. I learned two very valuable lessons in those moments: Never watch someone bait a hook with your mouth ajar; and splinters in your tongue, albeit very amusing to my wife, are no laughing matter.
Be Part of the Solution
Ignoring my antics, Mason expertly cast his line across the width of the pond. There were several other fisher-persons around the pond, all adults (apparently they weren’t aware the pond was stocked specifically for children), and he deftly avoided their lines. He gazed patiently at his bobber waiting for the telltale dip of a trout feasting on the worm. I shuddered thinking back to the barbarity I had tasted…ah hmm… witnessed.
A short while passed with no significant events. Mason nudged me. I awoke coughing and crying “Woooorrrrmmmmmm!” He said he wanted to move around the pond to try another spot. I dutifully carried his tackle box, but I refused to pick up the worms and nearly kicked them into the water. He set off muttering under his breath. The only words I heard were “little girl”. I wonder what he meant by that.
We meandered through soda cans, bait containers and sandwich wrappers. There were cigarette butts floating in the water. Apparently the conveniently located trash cans were just a little far away for the average person to use. It was obvious that many of the adults who came here were as much to blame for the mess as the children. Either that, or there was a hell of a nicotine problem at the Elementary School.
I wrinkled my nose at a fish corpse left lying on the shore. What a waste. Where was the little fish medical examiner to haul off the deceased? I prefer the ‘chalk outline on the pavement’ version of death, myself. When I made a comment, Mason replied that we were just as guilty if we observed a problem and did nothing to rectify it. Okay, okay, he didn’t actually use the word rectify but it made me proud anyway. I made a promise to leave every place I went a little bit cleaner.
Catching My Lim(b)it
My son encouraged me to try a few casts. He had switched to a spinning lure, so I didn’t have to bother with worms. Wanting to show him my expertise, I flung the tip of the pole behind me. The lure sailed backwards, wrapping securely around the upper branches of a nearby willow tree. I gave it a couple of tugs, but it was hopelessly tangled. I heard laughing from all around the pond. Mason ducked his head in shame. I started climbing the tree, vowing I wouldn’t come down until I had retrieved his lure. Mason said, “Dad, I don’t think those branches will hold you. Just leave it.”
“Nonsense!” I said. Just as I reached out to grab the lure, there was a loud crack. I flailed as the branch I teetered on gave away. I felt the treble hook dig into the flesh of my grasping hand. My foot hung up at the junction of two branches, causing my body to collide with the trunk. As I hung, head toward the ground, I decided that maybe fishing wasn’t for me. Then my shoe came off and I plummeted to earth. Apparently the medical examiner still hadn’t arrived, for I had landed on the discarded fish, contaminating the crime scene.
Trying not to laugh, Mason asked if I was all right. I said I felt a little queasy. I wasn’t sure if that was from hitting my head, The whale lure embedded in my palm, or the putrid fish remains smeared across my chest. “At least I didn’t fall in the water!” I said, removing a cigarette butt that was stuck to my cheek. “I got your lure!” Then my vision narrowed to a pinpoint before going completely black.
His Favorite Lure
When I opened my eyes, I was lying on my back. Mason stood over me with a pair of needle-nose pliers. He said, “Dang. I was hoping to get this before you came around. I didn’t want to listen to you blubbering.” Before I could react, he stomped on my wrist and jerked the lure out with the pliers. “Thanks, this one’s my favorite.”
I put my hand to my mouth, fighting back tears. I immediately removed it and put it to my nose. The odor made me gag. Apparently, I had gotten fish goo on my hand also. I scrubbed at my tongue with my nails, but only managed to get more foulness in my mouth. I tried licking the tree trunk and even ran back to the dock. I got a cigarette butt on my first pass at the deck planks, but that was preferable to putrid perch or tainted trout or whatever it was.
Mason said he was very happy with his new pole, but thought we should call it quits for the day. I agreed. When we got to the truck, he asked, “Do you mind if I just ride in the back?”
My fishing skills may suck, but spending time with my family in Idaho doesn’t!