Wednesday, February 22, 2017

On Teaching A Boy To Fish

Once upon a time, I became the father of a healthy and happy baby boy. I watched him grow, and saw that same curiosity in him that I had as a boy. This pleased me. He wanted to know about everything that crawled of flew or swam. He was cut from the same slab of bedrock that I was.

When I felt the boy was mature enough, I told his mother that it was due time I teach him the ways of a fisherman. She gave in, and I made preparation for this rite-of-passage, as old as man himself.

To commemorate this occasion, I purchased the best equipment I could afford, which turned out to be a Spiderman rod and reel combo, complete with tackle box and that little thingy that comes tied to the end of the line, so that one can scare all of the fish away on the first cast. The boy was a quick learner, and within a few tries, had managed to break a glass figurine on the entertainment center, and made a perfect cast into the blades of turning ceiling fan. I was quite impressed with the durability of the rod as it bounced off objects at twenty mph and at the strength of the line, which must've been equal to seventy pound test, due to the deep cuts on my hand from trying to jerk it loose once I managed to catch the rod.

Finally the day arrived, and the boy and I made our first trip to a farm pond in Blue Ridge. A lot of rocks were thrown, and both fish and birds were put on high-alert by the boys energetic antics. But when a fish let it's guard down enough to feed again, it mistakenly took the worm I had threaded onto the boys line, and the fight was on. From the moment he laid eyes on that first bream, he was obsessed.

Over time, I taught the boy everything I knew about how to catch fish. That was a big mistake on my part. Had I known then that he would bypass the whole taking the pebble from my hand thing and going straight to showing me up, I would've kept it all to myself. Before I realized what I had done, the boy said something akin to The student has become the teacher, or some crap like that. From that day on, he made it a point to out-fish me, and didn't mind telling everyone we met, either. I couldn't talk about fishing with my friends while he was around. It was, and continues to be, embarrassing.

A couple of years back, we were fishing for trout in the South Saluda; me with my fly rod and the boy with his ultralight and bucket of worms. He'd caught five fish to my one, and was making a point to remind me that my spinning rod was in the car if I needed it. I think the final slap in the face was when I was explaining the finer points of fly fishing for trout. He side-armed his worm into a pool upstream from us while I was still babbling on like a used car salesman, and hooked a big rainbow. I had to move out of the way so he could reel it in.

So if you are a fisherman that has a young son or daughter or niece or nephew, and you're considering teaching them to fish, my advice is don't do it. And if you find yourself in a situation where you have to let them tag along, tell them nothing. A simple yes or no answer will suffice if they ask any questions.

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