Gone fishing

by Wolf Pascoe on March 26, 2011

I took Nick fishing recently. He asked to go. I don’t know where he got the idea.

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.

A

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!”

I lowered the fish down. The hook had worked it’s way through the jaw. Blood ran down the scales. The trout flopped in the white bucket, smearing the sides with red. I felt queasy.

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.

“Me too.”

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.

. . .

A

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Legacy

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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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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

kathryn kates March 26, 2011 at 10:51 am

“…it was green. the color of his eyes..”

you really are a beautiful writer. thanks for the lovely story. made me miss my dad.

Reply

Wolf Pascoe March 26, 2011 at 11:09 am

Were you the one who said truth was beauty? Maybe it was Dylan … 🙂

Reply

nelson March 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm

When you said that you were sorry that you were the one who caught the fish, I felt the father in you. Thanks for sharing this story 🙂

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Wolf Pascoe March 26, 2011 at 6:35 pm

After we got home, Nick started referring to it as “my fish.” So all was not lost.

Reply

Barbara March 26, 2011 at 5:27 pm

It’s great that you jumped to his request to go fishing rather than pushing it off for ‘later’ – you made an everlasting memory. Beautiful post!

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Wolf Pascoe March 26, 2011 at 6:57 pm

I hope so, Barbara. Thanks.

Reply

BigLittleWolf March 28, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Such a poignant story. What I love most is the fact that you two shared this experience, whether it was enjoyed or not, more complex or not (something woeful in your description of the poor, lone, caught fish).

The way boys-men bond remains both strange and interesting to me.

Reply

Wolf Pascoe March 28, 2011 at 6:28 pm

I can’t read the story without feeling sad. I wonder how Nick will feel reading it someday–it’s a mystery to me.

Reply

Vicki March 29, 2011 at 10:48 pm

The intimacy of the contact with sadness in this post was very moving. I love the experience of feelingfullnesss I get with this writing. Thanks

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