Last year I caught my first prize fish. I proudly posted its photo on the Internet. It was almost as big as my grandson, who didn’t really appreciate the achievement. Many kids today don’t know what a thrill it is to land one after decades of trying. Fishing is something of a rite of passage that you want to share. Catching one was special for me since I’d spent my youth just catching mosquitos at our city park pond. Of course, my dad took me fishing; every summer we’d be off on one of those charter boats. It must have cost him since he not only had to pay the charter but rent fishing gear. We had no place to keep rods, reels and tackle in our city apartment. Our preparation consisted of wearing our fishing jackets from Columbia, along with athletic shoes and sunglasses.
Since Dad knew nothing about fishing gear, he depended on the guys running the charter boat to tell him what to use. We’d get rods and reels ready for use once we reached the fishing grounds. Of course, the fish always ignored my line. It’d always be tangled in one vast mess on my reel. Dad would put his down to help me straighten mine out. Meanwhile others would be merrily reeling in fish, while we were grumpily untangling lines or stabbing ourselves with hooks. When our tackle was working, we’d lose our bait, hook the bottom (“keel” Dad insisted I call it) of the boat, or the captain would make us reel in to shift locations or return to the pier.
Once back ashore we’d head to a shop where Dad bought some large fillets of fresh fish to take home. He always said this would fool Mom so she wouldn’t know we hadn’t caught anything. But in truth, Mom hated the task of preparing fish, and Dad didn’t know how to do it himself. This was his convenient compromise, and even though I love eating seafood today I have no idea how to prepare fish to cook. Often I’ll use a Groupon to take my family out for a really good seafood dinner, where I will tell them great stories I learned on those fishing trips with Dad.