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Hooked on Fishing

(ROCKWALL, TX — June 4, 2018) While being walked by the dog in Harry Myers Park, I stumbled upon a large crowd of parents and kids encircling the ponds by the historical homes—it was a fishing derby. Kids casted lines, reeled, and screamed the iconic, “I got one!” as moms and dads ran over to finagle the fish off the hook. Memories washed over me of the Mid-South Boat Show and catching my first, a trout from the stocked pool, and then came the memories of my first real fishing adventure with my dad.

He rented a jon-boat and trolling motor while I explored the docks. Spider webs draped everything and a knot grew in my throat knowing I would have to step into one of the arachnid-infested crafts. Dad lugged the equipment and motioned me to get in so he could pass me stuff. It was all I could muster to embark among the silky threads, but I was intent on making him proud.

Soon we were trolling toward a cove.

Dad took a long bamboo cane pole and strung a line down it, wrapping pieces of electrical tape on strategic spots to hold the line tight. He strung a cork, mashed a little BB- size weight, and tied a small gold hook on the end. Shoving his fingers in a box of dirt, he pulled out a wriggling worm and wrapped it around the hook.

“Now, swing the line out gently and just lay it in the water. The closer you are to trees and logs, the better. That’s where fish lay.”

Take a seven-year-old boy with a nine-foot pole and a mess of line near tree limbs and logs and within seconds there will be chaos, and sure enough there was and I felt a failure.

“Be careful, but to get to the fish, you will get tangled sometimes.”

After a few more, I got my line in a good spot and watched the most amazing thing happen, something that now, 40 years later, still makes my heart jump. My bobber bounced and I felt a tug on my line and suddenly the cork dove under and the cane pole bent double. I was so excited I yanked straight up and a fish soared out of the water and clear over the boat. I turned and yanked again and it soared again on a return flight. After a few more tugs, the fish banged against the side of the boat; I had landed him.

That day birthed a tradition, and we went fishing nearly every summer Wednesday all the way through high school. I was hooked and I haven’t stopped fishing for 40 years, even casting some flies an hour or so before church each Sunday. It is definitely a hobby, a passion, a way I unwind after a long week, but more than that, it is a revisit to some of the greatest memories and moments with my dad. Through fishing, he taught me some of the most important life lessons: taking risks, working hard, remaining calm under pressure, and being prepared for any challenge. If anything, it was just time to talk without distraction. There were no cell phones and often my question of “What time is it?” was answered with, “Why? You going somewhere?” We had nowhere to be except to where fish bite. Which is why, as I stood watching the kids and parents at the derby, I grinned from ear to ear because I knew what was in store.

I knew many would be hooked, and I’m not talking about the fish.

By Scott Gill of Rockwall. Scott is a teacher, coach, and author of “Goliath Catfish.” Follow Scott’s blog at puptentpapa.blogspot.com and read his “Front Porch Ramblings” at BlueRibbonNews.com.

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