Take a kid fishing. Any kid, any age, (just ask the parents first, or it’s kidnapping) any time. Just do it. Nothing compares to the look on a child’s face when they just caught a fish for the first time. It’s joy and amazement and pride and awe all rolled into one big bowl of awesome.
Over the years, I have seen my honey take countless wee ones fishing and make sure they catch at least one fish. I’ve seen him cast sidelong glances at lurking little ones watching furtively from a safe distance at one of the local parks. I’ve watched him set poles, pick up a soda and sandwich, or a tangled mess of tackle just as a rod tip started to jiggle. And then it’s always the same.
“Hey! You there…young man (or young lady)…I need a hand. Grab that pole there! Quickly! I think there might be something on there. Help me out…I’m tied up with this here.”
He always thinks he’s so sneaky about it. That I don’t notice that he’s just a big bowl of gruffness coated jello when it comes to kids and fishing. If there’s a dutifully watching parent or grandparent near who doesn’t make a move to take a photo, he will do it himself. He’ll patiently instruct the child on the best way to hold the fish so it looks the biggest, memorialize the moment and ask the adult for a number or email to send the photo to. Because that photo isn’t for him. If it’s a monstrous pig of a fish, he’ll ask the adult if it’s ok to submit the child’s photo and name to the local tack shop’s site. More often than I can remember, it’s ended up there, and occasionally even in the paper. He’s never, ever in them…he’s the machine that hums away quietly in the background. Here’s a rare one of him with one of my own boys at 12. Meet Justin, and his first bass.
What he doesn’t think I notice is the light in his own eyes. How he looks just like a big kid himself. How he chuckles quietly to himself later as he updates his Facebook status with his favorite words. “Another first fishy today! Take a kid fishing!”
I could quite literally take this man out on the priciest charter boat anywhere, drop him smack in the middle of a school of prize sportfish. He could battle and bail them all day long and I would never, ever, come close to seeing the light in his eyes when he watches a child pull their very first sunny out of a tiny pond. In fact, he mated his way through his late teens on local charter boats. There isn’t a money fish alive that can draw him away from a kid with a bass on the line. Here’s a photo off of our wall…apologies for the flashback, but it’s old and stuck to the glass inside the frame.
I’ve lost count of the “first fishys”. I’ve lost count of the “Let’s stop here for just a second and see what’s shaking here at the spillway. I hear the perch might be running’s.” The poles come out of the truck, the bag of bloodworms or hidden jug of minnows appears seemingly from thin air, and I know we’re going to be late to whatever destination we were headed for. And I can’t even be mad. I love him all over again.
Spring’s coming on. Take a kid fishing.