Something fishy is going on here

I have good memories of going fishing with my grandpa when I was little. We would hop in his truck and drive up the steep gravel road by his house in Winslow, Arkansas, to a large pond surrounded by woods and bluffs. It was a peaceful, tranquil setting (other than the blasted mosquitoes buzzing around my face). An old abandoned cabin and an outhouse added to the rustic charm and the sense that we had gone back in time. My grandpa taught me how to bait the hook, cast, and reel in a fish patiently without breaking the line. Then, back at the house, I’d watch in fascination as he “cleaned” the fish (which was a much dirtier process than the phrase led me to believe), and we’d eat it for dinner.

I’m not a fisherwoman these days, but I wanted my kids to experience a little fishing fun in their childhood. So a couple days ago I sent them into the backyard to dig up worms (we discovered our yard is abundant with them when we were leveling a spot for our above-ground pool a month ago), and we loaded up the car with fishing poles and tackle and headed to a nearby park where we had recently watched some catfish gobbling up the bread people had thrown for the ducks. (Who knew catfish liked bread?)

My plan was just to sit and watch. My days of spearing a slimy, wiggly worm onto a hook are over… or so I thought. Brielle would poke a worm with the hook and then shriek as it wriggled in her hand. She’d drop the worm then have to find it in the grass. She’d try picking it up with a stick so she didn’t have to touch it. Finally I was exasperated enough that I helped her get it on the hook. It was every bit as gross as I remembered.

Once both kids had their poles baited and cast, I settled down to watch the family of nutrias living on what we call “nutria island” in the pond. If you don’t know what a nutria is, just picture giant swimming rats with large, orange-ish front teeth. Truly, they’re not far off from the Rodents of Unusual Size in the fire swamp of The Princess Bride. But they can be entertaining to watch. They’re quite social and playful with each other, and they moo.

A mama nutria was lying on the island just trying to take a little nap while her two babies crawled all over her. I never thought I’d feel empathy for a nutria, but I couldn’t help thinking, “Oh mama, I know just how you feel!”

Around that time, Trey and Bri hooked a catfish on Bri’s pink Disney princess fishing pole. Turns out pink Disney princess fishing poles aren’t the best for reeling in a decent-sized catfish. The reel couldn’t handle the weight. Trey had to walk backwards with Bri’s pole to pull the fish onto land. Success! We had caught a fish.

Both kids wanted to touch it. Bri wanted to know if we could take it home and keep it as a pet (um, no). We took the hook out, admired our whiskery new friend, then tossed him back.

Pretty sure the fish told all his friends about his adventure on land because they simply weren’t biting after that. So we turned our attention to a new form of entertainment: seeing how far we could cast. After hooking a couple of trees, Perrin got the hang of it and was pretty good. Even Trey joined in the fun and impressed the kids with his long-distance casting. It kind of reminded me of our college days of playing racquetball—his main objective was to hit the ball as hard as he could and see how many times it would bounce off the walls. Similarly, he wasn’t too interested in actual fishing, but a visual display of his power and manliness? Heck yes!

Now for the last couple of days the kids have been practicing their casting in our backyard (sans hooks, thank goodness). And they keep asking when we can go again. Maybe I’m going to have to become a fisherwoman after all. But that girl of mine is going to have to learn to bait her own hook. 😉

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