I’m Not a Fisherman

 “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of something that is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope,”

John Bucha

I’m not a fisherman, but I have fish stories. My uncle Charles took me on my first fishing trip. I was four, armed with a bamboo pole, and had sunfish on my mind. Cousin Pauline was older; she had been to the lake before and already knew the ropes or, in this case, lines. I learned what bobbers, sinkers, and worms were all about but didn’t get the hang of casting that trip. My recollection is a little fuzzy on this, but I have a hunch my fishing companions were not anxious to have a four-year-old swinging around a sharp hook from the end of a long pole. Uncle Charles told me that fish like to hide in the shade under the pier and that I should just let the line drop straight down. He didn’t explain why he was casting his worms far from the dock and catching more fish than the rest of us. I’m not sure what anyone else did with their fish at the end of the day, but I had to take mine home alive in a bucket of water. Probably not the most convenient way of transporting the day’s catch, but for me, there was no other way, and it was non-negotiable. After all, I had to show mom my fish and see if she knew why it only had one eye. Pauline didn’t know, and this was way before Chornobyl.

A couple of years later, my family moved to a house in Annapolis on the water. Of course, a new home requires new furnishings, and one of the first purchases was a bamboo fishing pole from Juvenile Sales, the local toy store. Unfortunately, mom didn’t keep worms in her refrigerator, so I loaded the toy hook with a bacon strip and went off to the beach. Having done this many times, I was expecting minnows to peck the bacon off the hook, or maybe if I got fortunate, I’d reel in a crab until it decided to let go. But, I wasn’t expecting to hook anything big enough to snap bamboo in half. Unlike the rod, the line, taught with tension, remained intact. The imagination went wild; what could be zipping back and forth so fast and pulling so hard? Whatever it was must have made an awful lot of noise. Mom could hear it from inside the house and came to investigate. I remember being unable to reel this thing in; the toy store reel was not up to the task. So I just walked backward, dragging the creature into shallower and shallower water. It looks like a snake! Did I catch a snake? No, it’s a 2-foot-long eel! Soon enough, it was wiggling in the sand and making quite a spectacle. I didn’t want to put this catch in a bucket, it was a bit scary, and besides, mom had already seen it. I was happy to see it finally straighten the hook and slither back into the water.

Last week I brought home a handwritten note that said, “This is not a bomb.” It was attached to a NOCO battery charger box, but the package no longer contained a battery charger. So, deviously, I left it in our entranceway and said nothing. Then, later that evening, I heard, “what’s this?” “What’s what? Oh, that, it’s not a bomb.” She must have believed me because my curious wife opened it a few seconds later. Fortunately, there was no explosion. “Fishing reels, giant fishing reels; where did you get these?” I explained that Joe, a true fisherman, knows about SeaSea and gifted them to me. He left them at the office while I was out. ” Oh, that was super generous.” She responded, then added. “You know that the reel with the green line is mine.” I’m unsure if the bomb joke was Joe’s or our receptionist’s idea. But it doesn’t matter; the reels are great; they are a pair of 25-year-old Penn Senators that look brand new. I called Joe to thank him today and commented on the size of the reels. He reminded me we sail in the ocean, and “you never know what will bite.” I have visions, nightmares actually, of 20-foot moray eels. He dreams of 40-pound Mahi Mahi and tuna. He chuckled and advised, “happy wife, happy life” upon learning that Sandy appropriated the reel with the green line.

This one choked me up a little. Reminds me of fishing the South River for croakers with my boys when they were little.

Published by billtan

Striving to be a better boat .

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