Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Fishing for a memory...

On the farm I grew up on we had three farm ponds. One was located in a pasture, one in a hay field and the other at the far end of a corn field. The corn field pond was loaded with blue gill, great big blue gill. The hay field pond was known for it’s abundance of frogs. And the pasture pond, well you could catch anything in that pond - bass, blue gill, catfish, sunfish.

My grandfather, Orville, loved to fish. He first taught me how to fish with a cane pole, bobber and worm. It’s a simple arrangement that is still effective today. No reel or cranking or threading the line through eyelets – just toss the line into the water and when the bobber goes under – give the pole a sharp jerk.

Nine times out of ten – you caught a fish.

Later I graduated to spin casting and a Zebco 202 reel and then still later to the most revered reel of my youth – the Zebco 33.

I still remember fishing by myself in the corn field pond with the 202 and a little Rooster Tail lure. I had been casting along the edge some cattails just as my grandfather had taught me. I was hoping to entice one of those monster fish from the safety of the reeds.

I was tempted to move to another spot on the pond – but I remembered my grandfather’s admonition, “Sometimes it takes awhile to get the attention of a big one - so be patient!”

I stuck with the spot and made a deal with myself. I would cast 20 more times and if I didn’t get a hit I would move on around the pond. I started counting the casts, three, four, and five….ten, eleven, and twelve…sixteen, seven…whoa…what was that! I got in a hurry and started reeling without setting the hook…I was so excited I could barely cast again. This time reeling slowly past the cattails…I got a good strike.

I gave the fish a second or two to turn and run with the lure and then I gave it a sharp pull just as I had been taught. I had the blue gill on the line and the fish fought like crazy! I was 9 years old and for a moment I wondered if I was going to be able to bring this fish into the bank but I kept reeling it in.

Once on the bank I placed the fish in a bucket of pond water and raced to the house. I had a blue gill that weighed almost two pounds! After a picture I took the fish back down to the pond and released it with the hope that I would catch it again someday. I don’t think I ever did.

It was the first fish I ever caught all by myself and it was almost 36 years ago. I remember it like it was yesterday.

This past summer I had my nephew, Zack, with me at Coles Pond and we were fishing. He caught a monster 6 pound chain pickerel from the bank. It was not his first catch – he is an accomplished fisherman – but the excitement in his voice and the thrill of the catch reminded me again of my first catch, my grandfather and the importance of remembering.


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