There isn’t much fishing where we live. Just by luck, I discovered a trout farm about an hour away. They provide tackle and bait, and a couple of ponds stocked with rainbow trout.
I had gone fishing with my dad a couple of times. We had sat on a pier beyond the breakwater, our rented lines dropping 50 feet into the grey Pacific. We never caught anything, but my dad had big plans.
About a month before he died, he took me to Sears and bought me a pole and twine. I learned some knots and practiced casting in the backyard. I kept the pole in my closet for years, never used. It was green, the color of his eyes.
The trout farm wasn’t big, just a dirt parking lot and the two ponds, each barely bigger than a volleyball court. If we’d waited another year or two, I’m sure Nick would have pronounced the place a fraud, but we had squeaked in under the wire.
“This is okay,” Nick said.
We got our tackle at a small shack. They gave Nick a real line, like the one my dad had gotten me. I took a bamboo pole. I knotted our hooks and threaded a corn kernel onto each for bait.
I showed Nick how to cast and we sat down on a bench, the rumble of cars from the highway behind us. We must have been sitting half an hour when I got a bite. The pull was hard, shocking.
“Take my line!” I said.
“No! You take it,” Nick said.
I lifted the fish out of the water. The tail thrashed.
“Get the pail!”
The fish quieted. We cast our lines again, sat down, and waited an hour for something else to happen, without any luck. We shifted to another part of the pond. The afternoon grew still. Nick was ready to quit.
“Fishing’s boring,” he said.
The man in the shack wrapped the fish in ice and offered us a free ticket to come back.
“We stock again tomorrow. More fish this weekend,” he said in a heavy Russian accent.
We walked back to the car, my arm around Nick. I was sorry I’d been the one to catch the fish. I hadn’t enjoyed any of it.
“I feel sorry for the fish,” Nick said.
We called Nora.
“We caught one fish,” I said.
“Mom, can we cook it tonight?” said Nick.
We sauteed the trout in butter. It was dinner, and lunch the next day.
I took a picture of Nick standing by the pond. But what I see when I close my eyes, as if I had photographed it, is an image of the two of us walking together back to the car—the package in my hand, the dirt road, the low hills in the distance.
I’ve told myself countless times that I had my childhood, and Nick is having his.
I still have the return ticket.
. . .
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:
Animated Knots by Grog — I love this website. It has animations of every knot you can think of. Knots for fishing, for camping, for around the house. Knots your dad taught you. Knots he didn’t.
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