I’ve been fishing pretty much since I was knee-high to my Easy Bake Oven.
My dad took me when I was just a little boy. It was one of the only things we ever did together; getting up early on Saturday mornings, throwing our poles and tackle boxes in the rusted bed of his pick-up. Looking back now, I know that I was genuinely thrilled to be going after the smallmouth bass in the river where we fished and all, but there was a lot more to it, to our fishing days, than he or I ever managed to realize way back then, in the middle of it all.
When we were going fishing, Friday night’s were almost too much for me to stand.
I’d pour over my tattered tackle box, moving plastic worms around and peeling their molded melted bodies from the tiny compartments on the elevated levels where they had sat unfettered since our last outing. All the fake rubber minnows and lead-head hooks and shiny silver spinners dressed up with a little bit of glitter and a little bit of feather, like some South Broad Street lady of the night, all those things my mom had bought me over the past few years, as my love affair grew, each time we had walked by the Woolworth’s at the mall and I had accosted her for just one more bass plug or just one last jar of salmon eggs, all of those treasures that I kept buried in that tackle box/treasure chest, I would break them out on those certain spring or summer Friday nights and lose myself in the damn magic of something wildly elusive and awesome and free.
It was never about catching any damn fish, I know that now. And, I guess a part of me even knew that then, because I was always just as excited when my dad wrestled his old rig into the parking lot of the 7-11 just two country miles from where we turned down the old river road.
I still remember him letting me get whatever I wanted: a cellophane-wrapped hoagie made by some yawning graveyard clerk with a heavy oregano hand, A Rachel’s Brownie rich enough to wedge a neutral tire, BBQ chips, a can of Coke, two original Slim Jims that came together in one pack.
We caught bass. Him more than me. I’d watch him way upstream, the early morning flecks of sun sparkling like pooping bottles as another thirteen-incher flung itself out of the cool morning river, my dad’s spinner in it’s jaw.
Mostly, I tried hard and was happy with a bass or two. I had my brownie to think about though, and my sandwich and stuff, so I was fine though, you know?
Fishing is a magical pursuit. Beyond all of the nature stuff, and all the freedom of the rivers and the lakes hullabaloo, there is something about fishing with your dad or mom or your older brother or your uncle or your granny or anyone in the freaking world who cares enough about you to take you, even if it’s just for now and not forever, something that takes kid’s spirits and torches them with anticipation and giddy excitement.
Taking a kid fishing is like rearranging the sky above their heads. It’s the closest you can probably ever get to spelling out “I love you kiddo” with the faraway clouds.
And if, or when, the wind blows it all away, if you are still game…you can take ‘em again and again and again.
You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.
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