Saturday, June 23, 2007

Fishing 101

I hadn't been fishing for a coon's age (as they say in these here parts) and was fortunate to have the opportunity to do so when some friends of mine invited me and the kids up to their place. They recently bought a house on a small lake out in the country and invited us for an afternoon cookout followed by a fishing expedition on their boat.

I had all the necessary gear - poles and tackle box - which I threw into the van, along with the bug spray, hats, and life jackets, and, on the way up north, I stopped to buy a new fishing license and pick up my free fishing guides, courtesy of the DNR.

We drove through the "country" (still populated, but not like the city), taking in the view, driving past horses and cows and a Christmas Tree farm until we reached my friends' new place. They have a beautiful home, the perfect combination of modern convenience mixed with country living. They have a semi-wooded lot, which has lake frontage. Can't beat that! There's loads of deer, rabbits, all types of wild birds, and, much to my kids' delight, lots of frogs and toads hopping about.

We dug for worms utilizing my son's science experiment - worms can be charmed out of the ground by sprinkling water on the ground. I have to say, I think it might work. The kids had a good time with this, but wouldn't pick up the worms. (Imagine that.) It's a good thing mom's not too squeemish, so I did it for them. Then we spied a toad hopping through the fallen leaves, and, yes, mom was the one who scooped it up to show the kids. The toad peed on my hand - they always do, it's a defense mechanism - and I thanked my kids for letting me get the warts instead of them. (Hey, the perpetuation of old wives' tales never hurt anyone.)

After that excitement, I had to fix up the fishing poles. Thankfully my friend's step-dad was there. Stan's up in his eighties and an old fishing pro. He helped me to detangle the lines, tie on the hooks, and put on new bobbers and sinkers. All in all, he gave me a refresher course on Fishing 101, and there's no better way than hands-on.

We had a great cook-out. The whole time the kids were wound-up, dying to go fishing and we managed to finish dessert and coffee and walk over to the lake before they did.

I went out on a small boat, powered by an electric motor, with my Stan at the stern and my son at the bow. (Let me say right now that if you've never gone fishing with a seven-year-old, you should try it. It ranks right up there with a visit to the dentist, necessary, but uncomfortable. Either way, you're going to get poked.) But, seriously, it was fun. My son got a bit discouraged because he didn't have the patience to wait and catch a fish. He expected instant results. Now, my Stan did have instant results, and was the first to land a fish (even a small bass, which he released). I didn't get discouraged though, and pretty soon, I landed one too. A beautiful bluegill and good sized.

The lake is stocked with bass, bluegill, crappies, and sunfish, and because we were out fishing in the early evening hours, they were biting! We caught about twenty or so, tossing them in a bucket in the bottom of the boat. When the bucket was full and the fish were ready to flip out, we came in. It was a fun time, even though my son was upset that he hadn't gotten a fish, but I did let him help me by dropping the fish into his toy net that I had thrown into the car as an afterthought and, of course, I promised him that we would go fishing again soon.

We divided up the fish - some for me, for Stan, and some for my friends, and to conclude Fishing 101, Stan gave us all a refresher course on how to filet, too. Darkness was settling upon us and, fish in hand, we headed home. Food, friends, and fishing, three things that add up to create a pleasant summer afternoon.

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