A day of fishing is a day of hard, but fun, work
My first and only experience at fishing was being 8, sitting on a dock with my sister, then 4, and being told by Dad we had to be very quiet or we’d scare the fish.
I’m thinking that was his version of “How to Get a Few Hours of Peace,” a handbook clearly read by both my parents at some point, though I believe it has since been banned by the government, because I’ve never seen a copy of it.
My mother’s version of the handbook was the hours of noon-3 p.m. every Good Friday, when, she told us, Jesus had hung on the cross. It was, to my recollection, three hours of annual torture. Because we had to be still and quiet as mice.
But I digress.
Fishing. Since I am a social person who likes to talk, my singular memory of fishing was lackluster. But in the interest of world peace and greater understanding of men (or at least this one, whom I like very much) I was willing to go there again. And we did, beginning our morning very late by professional fishing standards with a 5 a.m. wake up followed by hooking up the boat, and so forth before setting off to Caples Lake.
Now, as I see it, fishing takes some preparation, which thankfully, had been done the night before. Otherwise, we’d probably have risen at 2 a.m., like the folks from Modesto, Calif., we ran into at the lake.
So we launched the boat and were trolling along. Oh wait. First, we got to the middle of Caples, “baited the hook,” (did you know that worms release a clear, gooey substance that dries under your fingernails and, to maintain control of the worm, it’s best to start at one end and hook it through in increments, rather than starting in his middle? Neither did I.)
Another tip: Take the second end of the worm (’cause now you’ve worked the entire six inches of the little guy up the line) and cover up the hook. This is very important.
See, it took me a couple times and coaching by Clint to understand fish don’t need to see the hook. In fact, it is best if they don’t. To my way of thinking, the worm looked great wrapped around all but the tip of the hook which was centered like a treat atop a Ritz cracker. So, now I know better.
Also, it is easier when trolling to tell if there’s a fish on the line while holding the pole (especially for a novice) than to try to “read” the pole while it’s in a holder.
Reeling in is a process that begins with “setting” the hook. This is gonna take some practice, as I nearly bushwhacked Clint more than once while jerking on the pole. Thankfully, he’s pretty quick on his feet and avoided injury.
Also, fish go crazy until you flip ’em belly up, I learned, which immediately stops them in their tracks. And they bleed. God, do they bleed.
Ladies, trust me on this, do not wear your cutest outfit fishing, because frankly, after bringing in one of these little guys, it looked like Freddie Krueger12 had visited us. I had no idea.
Self-discovery also seems to be part of the process.
It amazed me to realize, as I untangled several feet of fishing line wrapped around itself, how I wasn’t annoyed. Perhaps because I was in the middle of the lake without 900 other pressing concerns needing attention. I don’t know how much of it has to do with patience, though Clint seems to think I am developing more of that these days.
Perhaps most important is the Golden Man Rule of Fishing.
When telling about your fishing feats, you’re supposed to round up to the nearest half-inch, I’m told.
Therefore, I caught a 16-inch rainbow trout and Clint reeled in a 15-inch German brown, which are apparently good-sized fish for Caples Lake. There were plenty more caught and released and some that eluded us, yet who managed to eat the worm in the process.
I’m waiting to catch “The Monster,” but he apparently lives in some other body of water.
A final note: I never knew fishing could be so much fun or so exhausting. Men who come home from a day fishing, whining about how tired they are, really are. They’re not telling fish tales.
Follow up the fishing trip with a two-hour nap, then repeat the process as soon as you can get a free day. I promise you’ll have a very good time and laugh a lot. We sure did!