On one of my visits back east, my nephew, brother and I took a rare Monday off and went fishing on a tiny lake in Northern Virginia. It was the perfect day for it, and Jim, my nephew, has a great canoe and all kinds of fishing gear. Canoing all around the lake soaking up the Monday morning sun, Jim and brother Joe were bass fishing.
Jim asked me if I would like to fish, and I allowed that it had been a good long while, but I thought I might enjoy throwing a line out. Jim wouldn't consider himself an expert on fishing, but he reads up and fishes a lot. After a crash course in casting, I got into it. I enjoyed seeing how close I could get to the coves and edges without getting hung up. Jim was proud of me and I was proud of how much I actually remembered about fishing. He coached me along giving me little tips here and there about how to entice the fish.
Strategically poised at the front of the canoe like the Queen of Denial, I enjoyed the action while Jim and Joe pulled in fish, released them and repeated the process. It hadn't occurred to me that I might actually catch one, but Jim said it would just make his day if that happened. Secretly hoping that I wouldn't catch anything, I continued to cast and reel in, content to feel the occasional excitement of a twig or a ripple taking my line off course.
Jim was determined that I should catch a fish and he re-positioned the canoe so that we could "sneak up on some good ones." We whispered our strategy so the fish would be none the wiser. Feeling my casting oats, I aggressively threw my line where I thought the fish must be secretly hiding.
Oooops, my line wraps around not one tree, but three, and we move in to the shore to rescue my line and Jim's very special bass lure. So much for the element of surprise, Jim says after the rescue mission, and we continue to fish.
Suddenly, my line goes wildly to the left and I think it must be a big log, and then to the right, it must be a really big log, and then the canoe starts moving forward, seemingly of its own accord. And sure enough, it was a fish. A fish! I couldn't believe it! A fish was on my line.
Jim and Joe are excited, and I panic. Jim is coaching, "reel in, reel in!" No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't budge the reel, so I just pull up, higher and higher until the reel is way above my head. Somehow I find the strength to budge the reel lever, and little by little a big old fish emerges, splashing, flopping, fighting and just generally causing a scene.
And through some power far greater than myself, a big fish is now flopping around in the boat. Jim frees the fish from the line and announces that it is a 24-inch large mouth bass. We nearly turn over the canoe taking pictures. Jim thought this would be a great opportunity to teach me how to hold a fish, but the student was not ready to learn. Released back in the water, the fish disappears. Jim and Joe are just hooting and hollering, they are so proud! I am stunned. I am not sure who was more stunned, the fish or me.
I cannot comment on what the fish might have learned from all of this but for me it was to be careful what you fish for, it just might catch you.