Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fishing buddies

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. - Henry David Thoreau 
At age four, our grandson Augie sets his goals high. Before joining us at the lake, he announced that he wanted to catch a fish and eat it. He and ViMae know that butchers turn animals into meat, and Pa had told them that Grandma was the best fish-butcher he knew. So they decided that Grandma would clean the fish and Pa would cook it. 

Belted kingfisher at Star Lake
To manage expectations, we talked about the notion that fishing is all about trying; you never know whether you'll catch anything good. We explained that while fishing you sometimes get to see animals and birds along the shore; that's how we had seen loons, herons, and just this week a belted kingfisher. (We wouldn't have known or cared about the kingfisher if it hadn't been for Augie and his Minnesota bird book.)

Right after lunch on the day they arrived, the four of us donned sunscreen and life jackets and climbed into the little fishing boat. (Mom, who doesn't enjoy fishing anyway, took a much-needed nap.) We introduced them to their fishing rods and spent a little time getting them to settle in. If you have fished with a kid, you know the "don'ts": don't wave the rod around, don't let out so much line, don't just set it down. We added as many "do's" as we could: hold it steady, move it slowly, let us know if you feel a little tug. They were excited, and they tried hard to cooperate, except for that part about letting out too much line thing. The release button is just too inviting and it was a great way to tease Pa. 

Star Lake is full of sunfish and crappies, most of them small but ambitious enough to nibble at whatever you dangle in front of them. Sure enough, within 10 minutes each child had caught a fish. Vi's was too small to keep and she didn't mind throwing it back; she was happy just to have caught one. Augie's was bigger; he was beaming as we offered to put it on the stringer. A shadow crossed his face, so I quickly added, "You can let it go if you want," and that's what he chose to do. My only regret: we neglected to bring the camera along to get pictures of their first fish.

The next day Augie and I went out, and this time he handled the rod like an experienced fisherman. We each caught a fish quickly; he reeled in his own and wanted to take out the tiny hook himself but it was caught a little awkwardly so I did it. Again we let the fish go, and with that he was ready to go back to the cabin.

"Do you want to go for a little ride to see whether we find any birds?" "No, I want to go to the cabin. Go fast."

We were using a 5-hp trolling motor. Fast doesn't really exist. But he'd seen bigger boats churn up the water with their wakes. "Turn on the waves and the bubbles," he said. I assured them that I had, and he was happy.

Small fish, but delicious
Peter and I had caught enough fish ahead of time so the kids could have a meal of fish even if they didn't catch any. They were perfectly happy to gobble up crappies and sunfish just like the ones they had caught and released. Even their mom tried some, and didn't mind the taste as long as there was tartar sauce.

At the end of our vacation, we asked the kids to name their favorite thing. ViMae loved swimming. Augie's answer: "Trying to catch a big fish." I have a feeling this boy is going to be a fisherman. (Not giving up on his sister, either. She has more patience for sitting still.)


Linda Medrano said...

I love fishing. That said, I really would prefer not to catch anything. I don't want to kill a fish, or even have a hook in it for that matter. But the act of fishing is fun. My former husband was an avid fisherman. He would tell me to hold still, not shake the rod, and above all, don't just rest the rod on a rock and ignore it. I did everything he told me not to and caught 4 fish within an hour. Yuck! I don't like to eat fish either!

Linda Myers said...

We'll be in Alaska next week. Husband will be going out in a fishing boat one day with brother-in-law. I will trail down to the river every night after dinner to watch the fisherpeople standing on the water's edge.

Jeanie said...

How fun that they both got to experience catching a fish. My kids remember fishing at a lake house with their granddad and my son grew up to be an avid fisherman, now teaching his kids.

DJan said...

I also like to EAT fish but not to catch them. It seems somehow unsportsmanlike, since they are just trying to find something to eat themselves. Great story about the kids, though. What a nice introduction to the whole experience.

Teresa Evangeline said...

My mother taught all of her grandchildren how to fish on the end of the dock at their house on Birch Lake in Hackensack. It was sunnies and bluegills and they were the most delicious thing ever. I still prefer a dinner of fish over pretty much anything else.

Teach a man to fish... :)

Dee Ready said...

It truly does sound as if your grandson is going to join the long line of avid fishermen who have been fishing since humans first discovered the delight of the slippery gleam that eludes the bait!

Deb Shucka said...

What a wonderful thing to teach your grandkids. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve rainbow trout on my hook. It's sweet that both kids wanted to throw the fish back. I think they're well on their way to being great fishermen.

AiringMyLaundry said...

Fishing can be so calming.

It's weird though, I really don't eat seafood.

Pearl said...

That was so sweet. I do miss having a little boy around...

"Turn on the waves..."



Far Side of Fifty said...

What a fun time on the lake! We have fishermen too..and they are learning to take their own fish off the hook and to bait their own hooks is all an adventure. Your grands will remember that fishing trip for years:)


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