The first time I went fishing was in 1954 at a family reunion in Mendota.
As the picnic luncheon was finishing up, I was drawn to a nearby lake. My cousin happened to find a discarded fishing line with a hook attached to the end. Being the resourceful six-year-old that I was, I tied the string to the end of one of my crutches (my constant companions since the polio epidemic of 1952). Pausing for a moment to search for a bobber, we spotted a nearby apple tree and voila, a bobber was born as we secured a small apple to the line. Another short pause followed until a cricket came hopping along which we used to bait the hook.
Casting my line out a full six feet from the edge of the bank, I settled in to wait for the big catch. To my surprise, I didn’t have to wait too long before landing my first fish. It was unforgettable! In truth, it was only a four-inch bluegill, but the memory of it has lasted a lifetime.
Fast forward to today. I still enjoy fishing once in a while but this pandemic has added a renewed interest in the sport and I’ve spent more on fishing gear in the past month than I have in the past three decades. Why? Because for the last 81 days, my wife and I have been in self-imposed quarantine due to the coronavirus, but we’ve been blessed to be accompanied by our twin 14-year-old grandsons during that entire length of time.
At first, they were kept busy by completing school assignments through virtual classes, streaming movies, playing video games, practicing their electric guitars with two amps, and other usual activities.
But as time went on and the days got longer, our attention turned to fishing. As of today, we’ve gone fishing every day for the past 15 days and plan to continue that streak until they return home. With that much time spent waiting for “the catch,” it’s only natural that they have experienced varying results.
On one outing, they collectively caught 20 bluegill. On other days, each has gone without catching anything. Yet their persistence and patience were rewarded on day #12 with Brent catching a large catfish and Bryce getting a sizable largemouth bass!
As for me, I have not landed any major catches just yet but I have enjoyed “fishing” nonetheless as I love watching blue herons and small flocks of geese skimming over the water, snakes slithering by, fish jumping and splashing nearby, taking photos of happy anglers, and watching beautiful sunsets much more than capturing a fish.
After 66 years of fishing off and on, I’ve discovered that the formula for an enjoyable fishing experience is quite simple.
1) Get a fishing pole, 2) Get some bait, 3)Go where there are fish, 4) Toss your line in the water, and 5) Catch a fish…sometimes.
The formula for dealing with this pandemic is also quite simple.
1) Wash hands often, 2) Avoid close contact maintain a social distance of at least six feet, 3) Wear a mask, 4) Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw it away after use, and 5) Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces each day.
Whether dealing with fishing or with this pandemic, patience and persistence is required. If everyone stays focused on the pandemic and follows the recommended guidelines, in time, we’ll all have many more years to fish.
And everyone can easily afford to do both. To keep this pandemic in check we need to have and use a bar of soap, a mask, tissues, some disinfectant, and common sense.
It doesn’t cost a fortune to go fishing either. One can find inexpensive rods and reels, hooks, and bobbers with little effort. Worms are free.
In a pinch? You could always stop by my place; I have a spare crutch you can borrow.