May 30, 2002

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Sometimes, those of us who fish on a regular basis, might be driven to feel a little guilty about the amount of time our pursuit takes away from other important parts of our lives. (My wife could use a semi to drive that point home sometimes.) That didn't stop me from spending more time during the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend at the end of a rod and reel than I had the rest of the year combined. Yet thanks to favorable circumstances I didn't have to hide my muddy boots or take my camera and laptop computer to my pond-side "meeting". There was no attempt to sneak my tackle box out the door hidden in a suitcase or lower my fishing poles out the attic window.

That's right, I was free to fish as much as I desired because I was on a mission. Fishing is great, but when you get a request from all of those who normally make you feel guilty about your time on the water, to go catch them a bunch of crappie, bass and bluegill for a fish fry, what more can you ask for. That's right I had a binding agreement to provide fillets for a group of 12 for Sunday supper. Lucky for me we're big eaters, because that meant I was going to be "forced" to spend nearly every minute of sunlight Saturday and Sunday at my job of catching fish. No one would be calling my cell phone telling me they couldn't find the shed because the yard hadn't been mowed this month. The family wouldn't be getting a cold shoulder from me as I missed out on the cheek pinching and photo album reviews since I had to catch those darn fish and I wasn't going to let all those folks down who were depending on me to put food on the table.

The only problem was my three brother-in-laws and even my sister-in-law tried to weasel in on my action. It would have taken me at least 24 hours on the ponds to fill my fillet commitment solo. Transform it from a sole proprietorship into a five-member angling corporation and that meant by Saturday afternoon my fishing excuse would be used up and I would be back on yard work detail. That was if all those fish had not accidentally got off the stringer that first morning. Then there was that pesky snapping turtle that apparently snacked on our next batch of fish. Little did my partners know, those pelicans landing next to me every couple of minutes was actually me releasing two out of every three fish I caught. So with a little work I extended the fishing fun for all of us by about two days.

To top of a wonderful weekend I was blessed to have a ready and willing three-year-old daughter come zooming down to the pond to be by my side. She quickly wrestled the rod from my hand. I convinced her to let me cast out for her, and after just three such tosses she had her first fish of what I expect will be a lengthy father-daughter career. There's no videotape of the fight, only a mental image that will never be erased. We did get a picture of her with her trophy bluegill, but I'll always remember her efforts to muscle "the big one" out of the water as it's weight was tripled by a patch of green moss. She was a true trooper, shrugging off the slimy green stuff as she stuck her hand in to grab "her" fish. Then it was off to the house to show off her catch to Mamo and Papa and anyone else that would see it. Later that night the fish stories were flowing for all those late arrivals. Amazing how those hands got further and further apart as she explained her catch. She even held the fish as far away from her body as possible for the photo (fisherman's trick, makes the fish look much bigger on camera.)Who says kids don't pay attention to their parents?

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