Give a kid a fish and he can eat, teach a kid to fish: you have attained a state of zen yet to be described

23 May

I come from a family of avid fishers (Not of the weasel family. And “fisherpeople” just sounded like an extinct humanoid species found in a dried up lake bed in Montana, so I’m rolling with fishers, kay?). I grew up hearing great fishing stories from my dad about his fishing trips with my grandfather. And by fishing stories, I want to be clear that these stories had absolutely NOTHING to do with fish size, and most of the time were not even about the act of fishing itself.

The very awkward 1980’s looking author: very proud of her trout

They were some of the stories that helped me to delineate (at an early age) 1. what I think is funny 2. what is considered horribly wrong and 3. how sometimes horribly wrong things can be very funny. For example, a family favorite story was when my dad was fishing with my grandfather, and my dad’s line got snagged. Now when you’re 8-years-old and you think that your line is stuck in a bush/tree/unknown brush pile, it is normal for that kid to pull on that line AS HARD AS HE CAN to get it unstuck. The only problem was that my dad’s line was connected to my grandfather’s neck. Horrible: yes. Hilarious: yes. Sorry, it’s just how things evolved for me. But fishing is how my family has spent a lot of time together through many, many generations and years.

I’ve fished my whole life. One time, my friend Amy and I went to a little pond around our camp in Clarion County, PA where I used to fish as a kid. A sweet honey hole of a place, tucked into the back 40 of a farm. We drove for miles and miles and then started down the long dirt road to the pond. We passed the old farmhouse and furiously waved at the family that lived there who were out in the yard. Since I hadn’t really known them well from my childhood, I just figured since they waved back, they remembered me and everything was cool. We settled into their canoe, fished for the afternoon, caught some trout for dinner, and then headed back to the camp. When we came back to the camp we told my dad about our awesome day of fishing. My father broke the news to us: the people we knew who owned that farm hadn’t lived there for years. So since I’m sure they’re reading this, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the landowners that let those two crazily waving and friendly girls drive to their pond, jump into their canoe, and have a great day of fishing. Thanks again, that was awesome. Here’s a shot of Amy after that day.

Amy very proud of her fish; also, dinner.

Now that I have kids of my own, I’ve made it one of my jobs to teach them about fishing. Not just about the sport (baiting, setting a hook, casting, and in most cases, releasing) but about the experience (keeping your gear organized, packing light, bringing snacks, leaving your fishing spot better than how you found it, sitting peacefully, and respecting the quietness of the outdoors). Now I have three kids between the ages of 3 and 8. I take them all with me every time I go, which is fairly often as I have a county park with three great lakes within 5 minutes of my house. This is something I do without my husband, he hasn’t the patience or the desire. It’s our time: me and my boys, and it is my favorite time.

Paulie in a state of zen, thinking about where his 4 opened root beers are.

What I’m learning is that taking a child fishing is really not about the child at all, it’s not even about fishing. If you take a kid fishing, you will not do one thing for yourself. and I mean that sincerely. You will completely give yourself over to something else, and most importantly somebody else.

Aside from all that squishy stuff, you’re going to create great memories and garner some funny stories of your own, for posterity’s sake. A few weeks ago I took the boys out to the lakes. It began raining torentially. My three-year old decided to run away from me, around the lake. Now, normally, this is not a big deal. But he has become FAST and I was after him in hot pursuit, and I was losing miserably. To add insult to injury, the men who were fishing across the lake began shouting “Run Mummy, RUN!!” ala Forrest Gump. Now that I look back, yep, that was both horrible and hilarious. So, to those guys who, again, are surely reading this blog, thanks for that. It didn’t strike me as funny when it was happening, and the joke was about 10 years too late, but, yeah, I’ll give you some funny points in hindsight. But guess what, I win. I’m a wicked-cool mummy who takes her boys fishing.

The one “who got away” ala Forrest Gump. Glo Bait is also great for a toddler’s lunch.

So, in short, let me prepare you for a day of fishing with your children:

  • Children change bait like James Brown changed outfits. This is approximately 30 times; you will be responsible for most of the hooking and unhooking.
  • They will be able to cast out after the first year, but expect lots of snags. Sometimes they will bring you rods/lines that are so enmeshed that you just have to cut all the lines and start over. You’re not Houdini; don’t try to be.
  • They will all of a sudden begin acting as if they have just ended a 40 day Master Cleanse and will demand copious amounts of food and beverages. Factor in about 25 minutes of just opening pop cans and chip bags.
  • When they get bored, they will entertain the possibility of catching a duck and ask accordingly. (Answer: no)
  • Don’t think that you will be able to cast your own rod out and fish. Your main job is to ensure that your youngest child does not a.)  jump into the lake or b.) throw his rod into the lake (too many times.)
  • Just remember that you are there, there is nothing else going on, and you are all together.

If you can take three kids fishing, you can seriously do anything. Really, you should try it, just make sure you have some good running shoes.

Carmie very proud of catching some type of kelp-like water vegetation.

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2 Responses to “Give a kid a fish and he can eat, teach a kid to fish: you have attained a state of zen yet to be described”

  1. Amy Baker May 23, 2011 at 8:50 am #

    I love fishing because of you, Al, and cannot wait to take my 3 year old. Great post!

    • motherallie May 23, 2011 at 9:18 am #

      We should take all the kids together this summer!!!

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