Ever wonder where holidays like Grandparents Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. come from. Well I don’t know about the rest of them but Father’s Day was created by someone reminiscing about the time spent fishing with their dad. Now before you even start to think I’m getting all mushy here and remembering good times sitting beside some stream someplace as cause and reason for dedicating a day to dear old dad, well you better guess again! Nope that is not where I’m coming from at all folks!!
No whoever it was that created Father’s Day had just returned from a fishing trip with several children someplace, and realized their father hadn’t drowned them way back when they were that age, appreciated that considerably, and they sorta sat down and said, “Damn! You know I really should do something nice for Dad!”
I can suggest this with some authority, as I just experienced this scenario. My significant other, decided we should go fishing on this beautiful holiday weekend. Initially it didn’t sound too bad, her two rug-rats indicated they didn’t want to go. Then Trevor, my youngest, asked if we were going, and requested I pick him up at the lake to go along if we did. Somewhere along the line, children 1 & 2 decided they wanted to go along too, so we were off to the lake, all 5 of us, to go fishing.
Somewhere in the course of preparation and chasing children down, someone asked if I was taking the Boat, at which I simply replied, “Are you insane?” This was of course asked by one of the opposite gender, who had never experienced the joys of numerous children in the confines of a 17-foot boat. Ex-wife #2 questioned my day, following just such a venture one day, and upon my telling her it was not one of the more enjoyable experiences I’d ever encountered, she suggested that I now knew how she felt after being cooped up in the house with the kids all day. After politely explaining a few of the finer points regarding my posterior anatomy, and how she might be inclined to express affection toward such. I advised her that she needed to lock herself in the bathroom with the three of them, for 6 hours, and arm them all with 6 foot sticks and sharp pointed objects attached thereto. Then she would know what I experienced in the Boat! And, until then, I didn’t want to hear how terrible having them in the house was.
Anyhow…. Having loaded everything up and got all the children together, we headed off to the lake. Which that wasn’t necessarily my choice of places to go to begin with, because beings it was a holiday weekend there was no doubt in my mind that it was going to be way beyond busy. Way beyond busy did not begin to describe it, and all the fishermen were sitting at home, sipping suds and waiting for a weekday. We set up and acted like we were fishing for a bit anyhow; but... that didn’t last long! The sweetheart and I carried everything down, baited lines, got them out, the kids reeled them in, and tossed them out elsewhere. Needless to say 3 docks, 5 people, gets a wee bit crowded, so I took the one with the sweetie.
Granny (a.k.a. Chelsea by most) started the day off with a bang, her first cast wrapped 4 times around the small branch behind her, rather than going forth towards the rather large body of water in front of her. Curly (a.k.a. Trevor) Noticing the inherit risk associated in sharing the dock with Granny, ran for the far side to escape, before getting hooked by the next errant cast, or worse. In the course thereof however, he lost a sandal and stuffed a half-inch long chunk of dock about the diameter of a pencil lead in his heel.
I had sorta migrated up to the covered deck along about that time. Something about the endless line of boats going by, held little hope for catching a fish anyhow, and it was much nicer up there in the shade. Curly not being successful in removal of the 2x4 in his foot came up to ask Dad’s assistance, which of course prompted Granny and Oscar (That’s as in Oscar Mayer ~ Weenie! a.k.a. Ryne) to join us and watch the surgery. The sweetheart seeing the gathering elected to join us as well.
Curly was doing pretty good at removal of the splinter, while I watched, and then all the women elected to get involved. Pretty soon we have Mom with her fingernails in there, like the fine tipped needle-nose pliers we were working with were not sufficient to grasp it. Then Granny decided she should assist as well, at which point I lost my composure momentarily and advised everyone to kindly remove their paws from the midst of this menagerie, so Curly could see his foot, two feet in front of his damned nose! They all paid heed and pretty soon Curly had a hole in his foot big enough that Mom had to attempt the finger nail thing again, at which I promptly suggested she get the hell out of the way, and let me get in there with the pliers! And, in about 3 seconds, we had the beast out, with the pliers.
Unfortunately in the course of the show, the entire crew discovered how comfortable it was up there on the deck in the shade. And, since the fish weren’t biting, it was rather warm out there in the sun, and I had the snack bag, what little peace and quiet I had, (if you could call it that, with the eternal stream of motorcycles, three wheelers, 4 wheelers, go-karts, jet skis, personal watercraft, and motor-boats going round and round, and round in circles!), was blown away by the presence of three talkative young souls ages 10 – 13 to boot.
Everyone soon grew tired of not getting any bites, even if they were up on the deck, and they democratically elected to move to the canal and try to catch a fish. I agreed that was probably a far better deal than what we were going to see here with all the activity going on, and told them to let’s load up. Of 5 rods, a tackle box, cooler, bait cooler, minnow bucket, snack bag, and assorted other goodies…. 1 rod and the tackle bag made it back to the truck, prior to three children crawling in the rear seat of the pickup and chanting “C’mon! Let’s go to the Canal! Hurry Up Y’all!” (I honestly don’t know who was the first to insinuate explanation of the finer points of our posterior anatomy to the children, and the prescribed display of affection there towards, Ma or I, because said instructions were pretty much insinuated in unison!)
We headed off to the canal, stopping by the house for a minute or two to grab a few goodies forgot in the garage. Next thing I know everyone is in the garage with me! So I took the opportunity to set up another ultra-light rod for the bluegill and crappie anticipated at the canal, rather than carry my medium weight rods for such. I then carried the rod, the net, the minnow bucket, and other goodies to the truck whilst everyone else sat cheerfully in the AC chanting their desire to hurry to the canal.
The trip to the canal was a long one, all of 3 miles with kids in the back making more noise than the combined bunch at the lake with all their motorized toys. Upon arriving I climbed out, assisted everyone in finding their rod and reel, and they all rushed to the canal bank. I guessed they had missed that basic lesson that bait is required to catch fish, ‘cause when I got ready to head down, there was bait cooler, minnow bucket, fish bucket, tackle box, lawn chair, my rod and reel, the landing net, and few dozen other choice goodies left to carry down.
About the time I started forth with all of it, the chants from under the bridge started, concerning the lack of bait. I maintained my determined pace and just sorta explained, that they should have had the foresight to plan ahead and carried the bait with them, since it was prerequisite to catching fish. Upon my arrival beneath the bridge, I was promptly greeted by gleeful expression for my having carried down a bucket for the eldest of the three munchkins, Granny, to sit upon. At which there was no insinuation, I rather bluntly explained the prescribed affections she should direct toward the finer points…. And, that she could sit her ass on the ground, since she hadn’t helped carry anything down. To which she replied in typical prepubescent fashion, “Well I carried my rod down!”
We baited up and proceeded to try and catch a fish, about two minutes into which Oscar started whining about a loose wrap on his reel, at which I explained that was nice, that by the time he straightened that little problem out, he should have figured out why he was supposed to pay attention to what he was doing and not allow that problem to happen again. Especially, since that little problem had been addressed in depth, repeatedly to both children, at length, the prior summer, when an entire afternoon was spent unwrapping such disasters repeatedly before finally saying the hell with it and throwing both tangled messes in the back of the truck, and returning home to replace the line on both reels.
He managed to get it straightened out in all of about 30 seconds however, indicating that it truly was not a mess worthy of irritating me with. The next cast launched his minnow in a totally separate direction than his hook, whilst scrubbing the tip of my $40 ultra-light rod against much concrete bridge girder to further add fuel to the fire! He re-baited with a crawler however, and shortly had the first fish of the day on.
Mother and I both are still amazed that he lands anything he catches, given the fact that he places the rod handle between his legs, with the rod tip pointed directly at the fish, no bend in it whatsoever, no pumping of the rod, and cranks clumsily. (Believe me, you can’t begin to picture it and do it justice, so don’t even try folks.) And, suffice to say it should never have come in, but alas he did land about a ¾ pound bluegill.
This prompted shrieks from Granny that someone should put a worm on her hook, whilst looking directly at me! Which I just sorta casually looked over there at her, and suggested that at 13 years old, she was very much capable of putting her own worm on the hook! She began to explain that she didn’t like handling worms, and I just sorta informed her that if she wanted to catch a damned fish, she might want to learn to accept that little matter of fishing, or hope that they decide to bite on minnows, since she had indicated she didn't mind handling them, because I had no intentions of baiting her hook every time it came up empty for the rest of the afternoon. (Mostly because, the aversion to handling worms was new found, the prior summer they were not a problem, leeches were the only problem bait!)
Shortly Oscar had fish #2 on, a ½ pound Smallie. Same nerdly reeling fashion! And, again he managed to get the little rascal in somehow. This prompted Granny and Curly to rush for the same little chunk of watery real estate Oscar had been fishing, before having the little bass swallow his hook. Unfortunately however, it wasn’t the real estate that was key, it was simply Oscar’s day, and neither of them was to find a fish there, which elicited much more whining.
Pretty soon everyone was back in their original location, all with worms on, Granny had mysteriously overcome her fear of their sliminess, upon learning I was not to be suckered into baiting her hook, and it appeared things were going to become peaceful. The key word there being, “appeared”….
All of a sudden Curly decided he would like to fish off the culvert across the canal from us; I told him to go ahead. Oscar decided he must go as well, and Granny decided she should outrun the two of them and be the first there, since her legs are much longer than either of theirs and she was much closer to the trail up the bank than were they. Upon arriving on the other side and heading for the culvert, half-way there, her blondeness was expressed, as she began looking in our direction blankly, and asking where it was at? (We’re talking a 16-foot wide concrete structure that two 48-inch culverts dump into folks.) Her mother and I, in unison, explained that she should maybe walk her boney ass over toward the edge of the canal bank, and look for the thing!
The boys made it to the other side and in typical boyish fashion elected to fish someplace other than where Granny was fishing. It wasn’t clear whether it was the age-old prepubescent boy/girl thing, or if they feared for their well being having watched her cast all afternoon. Shortly Oscar and Curly were back, complaining the rocks were too big on the other side, and there was too much water over there, and they couldn't get down there to fish, and my and Ma's hopes of peace and quiet were quashed. Soon thereafter Curly was complaining about not being able to get the loose spool of line straightened out on his reel, upon review of which I found it was under the spool, necessitating the removal of said spool to unwrap it from the shaft, and upon closer inspection the retying of the entire slip bobber rig I had just put on minutes earlier, as the line was cut by the spool.
In the course of determining all of this, Granny starts shrieking on the far bank about her line being snagged, and looking over it was noted that it was in fact snagged... in the rocks 20 yards downstream of her, in the opposite direction of which she had been fishing. (The jury’s still out on this one folks! We’re not quite sure how the hell it got there, and her being blonde and 13 years old, neither was she!) Once again her blondeness beset us however, as she looked over and whined, “What should I do?” Her mother casually looked over at me, as if waiting for the reply she knew was forth coming, so I offered it. “Granny! Your options are, 1.) You can stand there and hold it forever, 2.) Abandon the rod and quit fishing for the day, or 3.) go try and retrieve the thing! Which ever option you pursue is up to you, but I can tell you from here, that standing there looking at the line and at me, while you jerk on the rod is not going to get it back.
I continued to retie Curly’s line, glancing over to watch Granny timidly walk the first 3 feet into the rocks, before whining again about her line being stuck down there, at which I simply looked over at her mother, and waited for the reply I knew was about to come. Mom yelled over at her, “Didn’t you hear what Rocky told you!” Which was greeted by more whining about not being fond of walking across the rocks. Followed by motherly advice that she should have thought of that before throwing her line in the rocks to begin with! Shortly the instructions to break the line were given by Mom, so we didn't have to listen to anymore whining, or go retrieve my abandoned rod. All this transpired whilst I was still in the course of fixing the first mess resulting in a broke off line, and before I got either of those problems fixed, Oscar was standing before me with another reel full of loose wraps. He then innocently made comment about how much "FUN" he was having! While choking back the urge to point them all three, toward the body of water directly before us, and plant my foot squarely in each of their wormy little asses, I just quietly muttered what a wonderful time I was having too!
We did catch several more little bluegill, nothing real fancy though, and upon the fish having quit biting, we elected to move elsewhere. Unfortunately we found several bridges occupied, one with kids swimming, and another with a fisherman I figured needed his peace and quiet. The one bridge I truly anticipated to be occupied wasn’t, and thus we landed close to town on the next stop. Shortly into the adventure at this location Granny and Oscar decided they’d had enough, when jumping into the spot I'd just pulled two gills from, refused to bless them with fish, and they commenced to walk the half-mile back to town. Curly being the die-hard fisherman he is, he elected to stay, and after much debate about the size of the fish I’d seen lying on the bottom, he put forth considerable effort to land a rather large carp that lie mortally wounded on the bottom of the canal. And, then proceeded to stalk and capture a turtle with the landing net to entertain us.
After a short while there we called it quits and headed home, where I cleaned all the fish, with exception to the very large Carp with the hole shot through him, while Mom unloaded the truck, and the kids stood in the way asking questions incessantly, and playing with the fish I was cleaning. Whilst tolerating all this, my mind wandered off to days long since past, and a little chant my father had composed many, many moons ago and to this day recites whenever he takes kids fishing, “I’m Hungry! I’m Thirsty! The Weather’s Too Rough!” And, I thought about the fact that this little verse was derived in a 12-foot plywood boat, floating on the St. Johns River in Northeast Florida, with three kids in it under 10 years old! Which looking back now, I guess that in comparison would be sorta like being locked in a walk in closet, all day with the three of us, and those sticks with the sharp objects on the end. And, then it dawned upon me that I haven’t paid nearly enough attention to Father’s Day over the years.
I'll try and do better Dad. I promise!
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