His grandma had given him an inexpensive kid’s fishing set last Christmas. It contained a short white fiberglass rod, a shiny golden closed reel, some rubber worms, and a few hooks. At the time Liam’s four year old mind couldn’t reach out that far into the distance. Fishing season was several months away. With more immediate toys to attend to the gift was stored in the back of the closet until later in the year when the warm temperatures would tempt every boy to play at the edge of water.
The first time his Dad and he tried out the fishing pole and reel it was an early evening in late April. The lawn was covered with snow giving it a green and white checker board appearance. There was a fairly open area where Liam’s Dad thought Liam could learn to cast without much chance of getting tangled. His Dad tied a weight onto the line and tried out the reel casting the weight in an easterly direction with a simple flip of the wrist and forearm. His dad was shocked at how far that little golden reel casted the weight. As hard as it was to believe this little fishing reel felt smoother than his adult equipment that cost considerably more.
Liam watched his dad push the button on the reel, hold his finger over the fishing line, and operate the pole like he was cracking a whip all while releasing his finger at just the right instance sending the weight half way across the lawn. When it was his turn Liam tried the same maneuver only to see the weight land right in front of him almost pounding his foot as he released the fishing line too late. The next attempt sent the weight into the bushes to the left where his father spent several minutes untangling the line, and the third attempt resulted in moderate success sending the weight about 25 feet in front of him. From that point on Liam seemed to have the hang of it tossing the weight over and over across the lawn and retrieving it after each cast, only to let it fly again.
As the sun settled behind the hill to the west Liam’s Dad decided that Liam was now expert enough to actually try fishing the next day.
The following morning Liam and his Dad took his older brother to preschool where he would spend the morning. Most days he would rather have his brother stick around for general entertainment, but on this day Liam and his Dad were going to try their luck at a little pond that was located up the road from their house.
Liam and his dad drove directly from the preschool located in an old town building in the center of the town to the pond where they would try their luck. As they arrived at the pond Liam’s Dad parked the old Landcruiser and helped Liam out of the car seat. As they walked to their fishing site Liam’s Dad explained to Liam that today they would just practice casting and not to be disappointed if they didn’t catch a fish. Liam would have none of that. What was the point in fishing if you didn’t catch anything?
They found a nice stretch of mowed grass on a cozy cove where they could have some privacy. Liam’s Dad tied a hook and bobber onto the line, baited the hook with a worm, and handed Liam the pole. He hadn’t had any practice since the previous evening and managed to cast right into a large shrub that stood on the edge of the pond. His father spent a few minutes unwinding that mess. It was quite tangled so this took a little while. It seemed like forever to Liam, but finally the line was untangled and he got a second attempt. Not bashful, Liam wound up and let that baby sail. The hook and bobber flew over the water and landed just beyond a group of water lilies that were about 25 feet off shore. His Dad instructed Liam to watch the bobber and if it disappeared under water he was to yank the tip of the pole over his head in hopes of hooking the fish.
His Dad sat down hoping to take in scenery as well as a little peace and quiet. Liam kept a steady eye on the bobber. The bobber sat idly for about 10 seconds when it started travelling by itself across the lake. Given it didn’t disappear underwater Liam saw no need to set the hook. He quietly watched the bobber disappearing across the water when his Dad looked up.
“Set the hook!” he yelled with excitement.
Liam pulled the fiberglass rod hard and felt a sturdy resistance on the other end. The reel began to make a strange whirring noise and line came out of the reel faster than if he had of casted it.
“Reel him in”, yelled his father, “don’t give him any slack!”
Liam had no idea what slack was.
His Dad attempted to take the rod out of Liam’s hand but the little guy wasn’t letting go of that pole for anything. He reeled for a while and then the fish would run, taking out about ten yards of line. He reeled in some more and the fish would run away again zigging and sagging through the pond lilies. Finally, after several minutes, Liam brought the fish close to shore.
“Keep your tip up”, his Dad yelled, “Don’t let him get away!”
Liam was smiling from ear to ear as the fish took one last run into the lilies. His Dad was beside himself thinking the fish would get away, but sure enough, Liam reeled that baby in like he was born to fish.
This time as he got it close to shore Liam gave the pole a mighty yank and the big fish came out of the water and landed on the grass. There it was! It was a beautiful sunfish!
“Holy smokes Liam, that’s the biggest sunny I have ever seen!”, said his father as he scratched his head wondering how this kid managed to catch a bigger sunfish in his first five minutes of fishing than he had caught in twenty years.
Liam looked the fish over closely as his father dislodged the hook. His father kept shaking his head in amazement.
“Man, this baby is bigger than most dinner plates”, he exclaimed.
His Dad held the fish in the air still shaking his head. The fish looked big to Liam but he really had very little to compare it too.
His Dad looked at Liam.
“Do you want this baby for dinner or do you want to throw it back?
“Dinner!” said Liam confidently as he reeled in the extra line and casted the bobber back onto the water. After all this wasn’t so hard, perhaps he could catch a bigger one on this cast.
Wriutten for www.wildramblings.com in January of 2010.