Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Dad is threatening me unless I update the blog and I will admit that a lot has happened since the last time I wrote to you. Mostly: fishing and bicycling.

I don't remember now where David got the idea that he wanted to fish, but it came from somewhere a long time ago. I am always interested in learning a new way to get food from scratch, so I was game. Thing, is, I don't know diddly about fishing. Last time I fished was when I was about 10. As I recall, a worm is involved as well as a lot of standing around being bored, ending with getting to eat fish. While standing still for a couple of hours and eating fish appeal to me now, neither of these are on David's List of Fun. So I wanted to begin with a minimal up-front investment. I borrowed a rod/reel from my brother-in-law and then set out to equip us as inexpensively as I could. I started at the local fishing/bow-hunting supplier by basically walking in with Brooke's pole, setting it on the counter, pointing to it, then to a picture of a fish, then to my mouth and grunting. I walked out with floaters, sinkers, line, worms, and a license. At Walmart, I got David a rod, reel, and Spiderman tacklebox. $50.00 later, I was ready to kill me a fish. But I need skills, right? Well, I read the fishing section of the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Department Web site cover-to-cover and hoped that would suffice. David and I set off to the closest fishing hole: A few acres of pond on the governer's property up the road.

David got the first hit. It was a small Green Sunfish about the size of both of his hands. I was really glad he caught something quickly. Before we went out the first time, I made him promise that we would go fishing together five times before he declared that he is no longer interested. I just didn't want to drop two bits, have him see how totally boring fishing is, and give up. Him catching four times as many fish as me on the first day really helped. What is funny is that he was so impatient. He would drop his line in the water, pull it up and exasperate, "why didn't I get a fish?" I tried to model proper fishing technique by dropping my line and then reading "War and Peace." Finally I told him that he had to drop his line and count to 100 before reeling in. I don't know that he ever got to 100. But 50 was enough to get a hit most of the time. That was a good evening. I even caught one myself. The next time we went, Simon went with us. To help occupy him, I tied hook, line and sinker to a stick for Simon to "play" at fishing. He had a hit before I could even get my own rig set up.

One thing that was iritating David was that I was casting and he could only drop his line from the dock. The reason was simple: I didn't think he could cast without injuring inocent bystanders. When I bought him the rod and reel, I was full of confidence so I bought him an open-face spinning reel and a rod that seemed small enough in the store. But the first time he held it realized that it was about as long and mine--about three times as long as him and the reel was a complete puzzle to him (they are to everyone at first). So I put off teaching him how to cast for as long as possible. The process of casting goes like this: you pinch some line against the rod just above the reel to secure it, flip the bail over to release the line, raise the rod up behind you, and then cast forward releasing the finger holding the line at just the right moment. Not too soon, not too late and not your whole hand. It took a lot of practice for me and I just was not sure that David has the coordination. So we set up on the hill next to the house. I weighted his line and tied some frayed rope to the end where a hook and lure would normally be. He pinched the line, released the bail, pulled the rod up over his head until it was touching the ground behind him, let go of the line, and cast, leaving the line on the ground. 20-30,000 casts later, he is a pro. The ease with which he pinches the line and flips the bail amazes me. He cannot cast as far as me for lack of strength, but he can cast successfully as often as I can (feint praise). We are ruthless with other about casting. When I botch a cast, David yells, "lousy cast!" I return the observation when he ties his line to the end of his rod. Open face reels can be a bit touchy at times and we have had to deal with problems with too much line coming off and getting tied up in knots. We have cut off scores of yards of line. I spend much of my time just helping him work out little problems like this. But the other day, I watched him cast, take up his slack, realize the line was acting up, re-release the bail and fix it without hesitation.

I remember when he barely weighed eight pounds and get all verklempt.

We have been fishing five times now in three different places on two different bodies of water. We have expanded our repretior in an attempt to pull in a larger, more varied catch. I have been working with jigs and we have fished with catfish bait. We've only gotten one catfish, which was not a keeper. The last time we fished, on my first cast, I hit our first keeper--a modest Drum fish with a tube jig. David was thrilled and spend most of the rest of the evening just watching it pout in the bucket of water we put it in. That evening I clumbsily filleted it and the next night we had fish tacos. David was excited until I put it in front of him when suddenly he was not hungry. Additionally, he has been getting bored earlier in each fishing expedition. However, he still seems to be interested in going again. We had to run an errand up by Lake Perry yesterday, but didn't have time to fish while were there and he was disapointed. Hopefully, he'll land a keeper before he gives up. Something I like about fishing with jigs is that you cast and reel rather than cast and go write your memoirs. It is more suited to a five-year-old. Likewise, I have decided I don't like worms. They are boring, easily picked off the hook, and you have to keep them alive.

I have a couple of friends and a brother who are anglers, so I hope to get some more lessons, soon. Lessons that will produce pictures of David and I holding up great big fish. I'll post them when I get them.

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