One day, I wanted to learn something about the skill of fishing and no one in my circle of friends and acquaintances shared the same interest. I had a choice. I could forget about it or I could make an effort to learn on my own. I chose to go on the adventure by myself.
I remember the first time I walked into a store to check out the fishing poles The clerk corrected me: “You want to see a fishing rod?” “Oh–yes–of course, I replied.”
GEMCO was the name of the store back then. I had no idea what fishing rods and reels cost. I walked around checking prices and wondered to myself whether this new experience was worth it. The cheapest set I saw was priced at $17.00, and it had been reduced because a part was missing. I figured there was no need to buy something with a part missing when I did not know which parts I needed in the first place. After all, I might not like it. I walked out of the store and headed for a sporting goods store. I saw no improvement in prices there either. I left that store wondering whatever happened to the stick and string and hook. When I was about eleven years old, I spent the summer with my cousins in the country. There was a pond on the property and we went fishing one day. We had a stick, a string, and one lonely, frightened grasshopper for bait–and we caught a fish.
Later in the week, I decided to call in to another store that might sell fishing gear. Bingo! They had just received a load of rods for beginners, and the price was right! $9.88. Hallelujah–just right for my pocketbook. I rushed out and bought one, along with hooks, sizes 6 and 8, and a small jar of fish eggs. I felt good about this purchase. There was a lake a few blocks from where I lived and I couldn’t wait to get started.
The next morning was Saturday. I took my rod, reel, hook, and bait to the lake and located myself next to a couple that looked knowledgeable about fishing because of the pail half full of perch next to them. After a few moments of observing them, I introduced myself and asked for help on casting. Andy, that was his name, looked at me and said, “Cast? Where’s your leader and sinker?” “What?” I asked with surprise. Andy continued: “You can’t do anything with this without a leader and sinker.” For a moment I felt disappointed. Then he showed me a sinker and gave one to me. I thanked him–feeling relieved that he saved my day.
Then Andy asked to see my hook, and wanted to know whether I had a size 10 or 12. I didn’t. I had a size 6 and 8. He said they were too big for the size of fish in the lake.Then Andy gave me hooks, too. He showed me how to cast out, and I started practicing.
The rest of the morning was quite interesting to me as a beginner. Just about the time I thought I had the hang of casting out, I quickly learned that I wasn’t ready yet. I swung the line and watched for the splash the sinker makes when it makes contact with the water. I didn’t see the splash, but I did feel something tug on the back of my sweater just below my right shoulder blade. It was both hooks! So, in this cool windy weather, I took off my nice warm bulky knit sweater and began the embarassing task of removing the hooks without tearing the thread. A couple joggers stopped and asked, with a smile on their faces, whether the fish were biting. I felt as though they were really making fun of me, of course. And I tried to smother my pride, and take away the embarrassment by openly admitting to them what had happened. Then, I heard someone a few feet away along the shore chuckle.I talked to myself and reminded me that I had to go through this in order to get to the know-how of fishing. In my mind, I pictured a fresh fish dinner on my dinner table.
While working the hooks out of my sweater, I recalled another embarrassing experience. It was the time when I bought my first stick shift car–a Honda hatchback, knowing fully well that I had never driven a stick shift before in my life. Driving the stick shift was not difficult once I got the knack of it. With practice, I understood the role the clutch played in coordination with the gas pedal and the brake pedal, and I hit the road–still inexperienced. The knowledge was in my head, but the experience was absent.
When I was on the road, I remember how the men honked at me to get my attention, and when I looked, they made like bronco riders, and mimicked me as I went bouncing down the street. I worked hard to coordinate the change of gears with the clutch. Everyone that honked at me laughed their little hearts out. And whenever I was at a stoplight or stop sign, a string of cars lined up behind me because I couldn’t get going fast enough for them.
I finally got the hooks out of my sweater, packed up my gear, and started to leave. One of the experienced fishermen, a retiree of two years (I learned), saw my pail was empty and he donated two fish to my pail. I thanked him.
There is something special about the art of fishing and the people who love it. I learned more about fishing, and I also learned something about the people; they were willing to share not only their knowledge about how to fish, but even the fish they caught for themselves. There are people all over the world who enjoy the simple things in life.
Seeing more clearly,