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The Beginner

My son had to leave the family gathering at Lake Robinson early, and he left behind his most expensive bass fishing rods, propped against the wall of the picnic shelter, thinking that I would grab them for him because he was in a hurry. I noticed the rods standing there as we were gathering our things at the end. I complained to my wife about his lack of responsibility, and snatched the rods up.

As I turned to leave the shelter, this kid tapped me on the back. “I was kinda wanting to go fishing,” the boy said, “but I don't have anything to fish with.”

The boy went on to tell me that he had fished a time or two before, but he didn't know much about it. I looked down at my son's rods and said, “Let's go buddy, we'll use these, if it's OK with your mom and dad.”

The boy followed me to the dock, and when we got out there, I asked which one he wanted to use: the spinning reel, or baitcaster. I was a little relieved that he chose the former, because I could envision a huge birds-nest, and me standing there in the hot sun, picking it out.

I showed him how to hold the line with his finger as he opened the bale, and how to release it as he made a forward cast. To my surprise, he did a decent job on the very first cast. The line was rigged with a soft plastic Senko worm on a shaky head jig.

“What do you think I'll catch?” he asked.

“You might catch a whale, or pretty much anything!” I said.

“I've never caught a fish before,” he added, and I felt a bit of pressure from the hopeless look on his round, freckled face.

“Keep throwing toward those rocks,” I said, “and you might hook a good one.”

The boy saw his parents and little brother walking by, and yelled for them to come watch him fish. Of course, little brother wanted to fish too. The boys’ dad seemed a bit embarrassed by the younger son's request, and that another guy was having to teach his oldest son to fish.

“It's all good,” I told him.

“I just don't want them messing up your stuff,” he said.

The little brother wanted to use the spinning rod, so I handed it to the dad and let him take over.

The oldest boy asked if he could use the baitcaster, and I gave him a crash course. Surprisingly, he got the hang of it after a few tries, and only bird- nested it twice. I was praying that some miracle would happen, and he would catch a fish, but it wasn't meant to be.

When it was time to go, the boys’ father was all apologetic for his son taking up my time.

“It's my pleasure man,” I told him, “I had as much fun as they did.”

The boy showed the baitcaster to his dad, and asked, “Can you get me one of these?”

“And a big tackle box and a thousand dollars worth of tackle,” I added, “ and a boat!”

The dad shrugged and kicked the dirt at the foot of the dock with the toe of his shoe. He let out a big sigh, and then grinned real big. “We'll have to see.”

“Thanks for taking me fishing!” the boy said.

“We'll have to do it again sometime, buddy,” I said.

I may have started something.


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