We’re in the Tennessee mountains and 4 out of 6 of us have a Y chromosome. The men folk want to something manly, something worthy of “staying in a cabin”. They want to go fishing! Go out hook some fish maybe have the ladies cook ’em up for dinner. HU-AH!
Problem with that.
None of us planned to come up a cabin much less fish. So some of us brought footwear more appropriate for the beach. We had no tackle, no bait, and no fishing license (which would of run for more than $30 a piece). We are also on a budget so spending in excess of $250 per family for fly fishing wasn’t an option. My fellow XX chromosome found this type of dude ranch that offered horseback riding, petting zoo, gem mining and fishing from a stocked pond. The fishing was a catch and release so no fishing license required (woo-hooo we can afford that!)
So, let me tell me about my past fishing experience.
I remember being nine or ten years old and having my first rush of desire to go fishing. I stared longingly at the fishing poles in the store. I just wanted to play with that fishing pole with the licensed characters that decorated it. I expressed my desire to go fishing and a few weeks later I got a fishing pole but not the one I was coveting. This was a more practical, durable fishing pole lacking the cute licensed characters that made me desire a fishing pole. My grandfather took me and my aunt (who a year younger than I was) fishing. It was us sitting on a dock, and NOTHING else happening.
A couple of years later I was visiting my Dad in southern Illinois. He had some tackle and a small pond on his property which allowed me to try fishing again. I don’t remember much about that experience except for how it ended. I must of been having trouble casting so I figured if I was up higher it would be easier for me to get the line out farther into the water. There was an old folding chair out there – the one with the nylon fabric weaves that people take to picnics. I climbed upon the chair with the fishing pole in my grasp, pulled my arm back, flung it forward to cast the line and the change in my momentum caused the chair to fold up out from under me. I went full body into the pond. I trudged back to my Dad’s house where he and his wife had a good laugh while helping me get cleaned up.
Fast forward almost another 15 years for my next fishing experience came along. We are back in Florida hanging out with Hubster’s family. My brother-in-law had the fishing pole and tackle already so we stopped by a bait store and picked up some crickets to use as bait (crickets? what happened to worms?) and we were set. Basically, it was the same story as my first fishing experience just a different decade. On the plus side, I was able to give some crickets a chance at living free in the wild.
We come to the present, almost another 10 years later. The fish pond at the dude ranch was a literal pond (slightly larger than a puddle). As you can see in the picture, there wasn’t much to it. A lot of my fellow fisher-people were closer to the age I was when I first attempted to take up fishing. Hubster rented the tackle and showed my 16 year old son about some basics of casting.
While he did that I bought some food to hang out with the emus, donkey, chickens, a pony, goats and obese ducks. The donkey gave me an understanding of why Eeyore from the Winnie-the-Pooh series always seemed to depressed and downtrodden – this donkey was the epitome of I-don’t-want-to-be-a-bother-syndrome. The donkey was the first creature I met at the dude ranch. He was really sweet and I felt bad that I didn’t have any food for him. So I got some crushed corn and when I tried to feed him he just let the pony have the food and seemed sad because he was lonely.
When I ran out of food I tried out gem mining which consisted of a bag of sand like dirt with gems hidden in it. They had a water sluice with wooded boxes to sift the gems out of that. It took me about 4 minutes of taking it as slow as possible to get through the bag. Somehow I didn’t leave excited or renewed about trying that new experience.
Finally I moseyed back over to the pond where Hubster and son had both managed to catch and release a blue gill fish each. So I took my turn. My son baited the hook for me. I did my first cast and it flopped two feet in front of me in the water. I tried again. I grip the rod and swung out and it flew in the air and landed 3 feet in front of me.
“That was better.” Hubster said encouragingly .
Finally after a few more failed casts I finally got the bait to cast to more of the center of the pond. I got a nibble. When I reeled it back in the poor worm looked like it got caught in a horror film. Again I cast it. I reeled in again and once again I got a hit. This time it was a catch. I reeled in my very own blue gill. I was determined to be brave and grasped the poor fish to remove the hook. It wouldn’t come out easily and it was dangerously close to the poor things eye so Hubster had to come and help me rescue the poor fish before releasing it back in the water.
I finally caught a fish. It only took thirty years and I had to go to a place designed to help those 11 and younger to get the hang of fishing. But I did it!
Would I have preferred to catch my first fish in the wild with my own skills? Sure. But I didn’t. In life it seems to work out that way; we want something and work at getting it and finally it comes along but not in the way we thought it would or would of liked it to come along. Most of the time when that happens we forget to be grateful. Even on this successful fishing trip to a stocked pond I did not catch the fish completely on my own. My son helped me bait the hook and my husband showed me pointers on casting so I could finally get that hook out far enough to catch a fish. So, I choose to be grateful (yes, like being joyful, gratefulness can be a choice). I’ve caught my first fish and maybe in another 20 to 30 years I’ll have not only caught one but have gutted it, and cooked it up for dinner as well. Not sure if I really want to do that, but it could happen.