The best fishing isn’t when the fish are biting.
It’s not when the tide’s ripping, the sun’s rising or setting or the conversation’s flowing.
Fishing’s the best when you’re too stinking young to know what’s going on.
Kids ask the funniest questions, right? Like, “Since we’re in Florida, and this feels cold to us, I wonder if we were from Canada, if we’d be sweating to death,” or “Will fish come all around us if I pour a Pepsi in the water?” or, “If I jump in, would I be a fish?”
When you’re a child, a boat isn’t a boat. It is, of course, a space shuttle.
A worm isn’t a worm. It’s an awesome, wriggling string of goo — and it’s too bad it doesn’t taste like the gummy version.
And the fish you catch isn’t a fish. It’s Moby Dick landed off Komodo Island and it proves that you’re the best fisherman in world — if not the whole town!
The first time a boy fishes, he skips the young man stage, going from boy to man. Nab that tackle box, sling the fishing rod over your shoulder like John Wayne did in “Hang ’Em High,” and march through the brush chanting: “A fishin’ we will go ...”
Why mention this? Why not just pass on more nifty tips to the adults so we can really slay the fish?
Maybe you already know.
This is about taking a kid fishing.
What’s that old saying? Teach a kid how to fish because he might take you someday?
True, but there’s more.
Take the child’s mind, a polished plate of steel, and etch fishing memories because he might remind you someday.
My earliest memories are blurry photos, or maybe short, skipping videos, and I’ve probably filled in the gaps.
In one, I’m looking across a monstrous lake on a bright day, sitting by Grandma Walter, and there’s a green can in the dirt, probably a Mountain Dew. That’s all.
Of course there’s “the one that got away,” and it’s at night. A mammoth catfish, I think, and it pulls my pole from a hole in the sandy shoreline and into the lake. I jog to ankle deep water, lift the pole and feel like I’m lifting the bumper of dad’s lime-green International truck. As dad and my step-sister bark at me to get the fish away from a tree near the shoreline, I whip my hips to the left like I’m swinging a baseball bat. Too late. The line snaps. My mouth opens, and my heart beats low.
I also see the image of a trout I caught that floats to the shoreline. For whatever reason, it reminds me of a dragon. I call it the Dragon of Komodo, and as I replay in my mind that dreary song from band class, I slip a stick through its gill and hop from boulder to boulder, back to camp. You know ... to show the dragon off to the boys.
What are your memories?
Maybe you have none. Perhaps they’re rolling in fast-forward.
Either way, take a kid fishing.
Wait too long, and it all becomes too real.
Nick Walter, outdoors writer, can be reached at 745-7013.