Monday, July 22, 2013

Priorities.... or Fishing for Time.

Grief is an odd thing, sometimes you can grieve for times past at the expense of days present without even realizing it. That is the way it was with me this year. On the third anniversary of my father's passing I must admit I was quite melancholy, doing various chores and tasks while in a deep funk. The annual fishing trip I've tried to plan in honor of my father was delayed this year until early August. No fault of anyone- just the way the schedule happened.

It was while I was checking the resistance in the oven element with a multimeter that I had something of an epiphany. My father, while gone from this mortal coil in body, was still very much present in the influence he had on me. Not just in the practical skills that he taught me- things like how to read a multimeter to effect simple repairs, how to ride a motorcycle, how to swim; how to fish but in things so simple as spending time in the field or time around the house and how to appreciate the world around me. It is only as an adult that I realize how valuable time actually is and as a successful business owner what those weekend camping trips or deep sea fishing expeditions cost him in terms of economic opportunity.

And so it came to pass that I turned my grief of the past toward my present and gathered up my own son and pushing back the sadness took the old canoe and strapped it to the top of my even older jeep and headed for a small body of water just a few miles up the road. As far as fishing goes it's just stocked rainbows in a lake perhaps a 1/2 mile wide by some 3/4 mile long. Hardly enough to get a serious angler's blood pressure to even rise.

We plopped the small canoe in the water and paddled out about halfway across to where we saw the most tell tale ripples of fish picking flying insects from the surface. We could see that the most action occurred along the boundary of a deep cold hole and a weed bed simply choked with lily pads- food and protection. I rigged Evan's ultralight rod, a whisper of a thing really, with 3 lb test mono and the most deadly thing in my rudimentary tackle box- A simple 1/16oz silver spoon with a small hook. I placed a bobber about 3' above it with enough weight to actually cast it. Given the small size of the stocked rainbows when weighed against the small stature of the rod they ought to feel like Leviathan on the end of the line should we be so lucky to hook one.

I let him let fly and then ever so slowly paddled backward. In effect a sort of poor man's trolling motor. I could imagine what the spoon would look like- small reflective object undulating in the sunlight to all those fish hiding in the weed beds all the while Evan watching the tell-tale bobber on the surface with all the attentiveness a twelve year old could muster.

We were rewarded in less than 60 seconds as a small Rainbow rocketed from the bottom and hit the spoon so hard he projected out of the water with the spoon in his mouth. Evan exclaimed with delight as the fish hit the end of the line and the featherweight rod bent near double. After a few moments of respectable fight we had the fish in the boat- a 12" Rainbow trout. Not the biggest fish nor the most exciting through adult eyes but to a tweener boy it was positively electric.

We threw the line back in the water and continued our path along the edge of the weed bed and within just a few minutes another fish fell for the trick of refracted light off chromed steel. A few second's fight and the fish managed to free himself from the hook. Not having his enthusiasm diminished, the lure arced through the air again and within a couple of seconds the white bobber disappeared and the miniature drag reel screamed again as the trout took line. Another minute's fight and another fish went into our bag, this one significantly larger than the first.

And so it went for the next hour, trolling the weed bed and hooking up to Rainbows, the action was hot and non stop. We landed several- released a few, kept a few and lost more. As the action slacked off we decided to troll over the deep hole in the middle of the lake. We were about 1/3 of the way across when a much bigger fish hit the lure. It was immediately apparent that this fish far outclassed the others and, unfortunately, Evan's rod. For his part, Evan fought the fish as well as could be expected- the slender reed of fiberglass groaned and the dragged screamed as the fish took line. Evan managed to turn the fish and take in line at a furious rate and just when I thought the battle had swung in our favor the fish breached and leapt from the water. I'll be accused of exaggeration, but no matter, the fish was a big Rainbow, a surviving stocked trout that was at least 18" long and five or six times heavier and stronger than anything else we'd landed that day.

It was too good to be true and as the fish spied the boat he turned and with a massive burst of energy he ran. Evan gave a mighty jerk and the ephemeral rod shattered. Undeterred, Evan  kept reeling but the line suddenly went slack.  The line had wrapped around a clump of weeds as the fish ran for cover and the knot- which had held through all the action that day- pulled through.

The fish and our spoon....gone.

We both hooted and laughed about the big fish that Evan nicknamed "Chunk" and reflected on the evening's fishing and what we'd do with the collection of rainbows in the bottom of the boat. A great day on the water to be sure- just a small local lake and a bunch of small, hungry fish and an energetic young angler with a wide smile on his face perched between the oversize life vest and the wide brim of his hat. Despite all of my adventuresome trips on the water in pursuit of piscatorial passions, it was one of my best days on the water.

My rod was still broken down in the bottom of the boat.

I'd never even wet the line.



Home on the Range said...

Thank you for a wonderful story, indeed a tribute to your father and those that he raised.

Good memories, there.

Phillip said...

Good stuff!

Sometimes, I envy my brother and his young grandson, because I know he's having this sort of experience on a regular basis. Personally, I've stopped bothering to even carry my rod down to the river... I'd rather throw the bumper for the dog and watch him have a blast than make him sit on the bank while I cast for fish I'm not even going to eat.