August 22, 2002

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

In years past as the days of summer passed and fall started it often gave me time to notice all that I had neglected as I spent countless hours in my favorite pursuit, fishing. The house still needed painting and the yard was once again close to getting me notice from the city that residents are required to maintain lawns, not jungles. The honey-do list on the refrigerator resembled a third-graders Christmas list, going on and on. When it was completely unrolled it made it to the other side of the kitchen and back again. Of course I never noticed that I was possibly spending just a little too much time chasing after trophy bass and tasty crappie. So a few things weren't getting done in as timely a fashion as some may have wanted - I was catching fish and loving every minute of it. Besides that it was providing what experts say is a very healthy diet, and I had a nice tan to boot.

Then there was this summer. Work, community commitments and two little kids somehow made my trips to the local water holes fewer and farther between. Suddenly it's time for school to start and I can't remember the last fish I caught. To make matters even more difficult, my fishing poles sat on the front porch where I had to pass at least twice daily and ignore their lure. At least a couple times I stopped, rearranged and even pretended I might go fishing only to have something else come up and disappoint my pour tackle box and fishing poles.

Of course not everyone is upset about my fishing failures. All that's on the fridge is pictures of the kids and a couple drawings by Abi. The house still could use some work, but improvements have been made. And that stack of fishing poles on the porch has made a great spot for several spiders to spin their webs. At least someone is catching something with my fishing poles.

Finally I scheduled an outing, evicting the spiders from their homes and putting off work and chores for a little fishing fun. But more than an hour at the pond only produced one fish. I had several bites, missed strikes and thrown hooks. It was sort of like a baseball player taking a year off and then trying to step into the batter's box and hit a curveball. I was totally out of practice. The fish were there. I had the right lure. Yet I couldn't tell a strike from a brush with the bottom. Every twig or patch of moss tricked me even further. So then when I did have an actual bite I let it slide by as just another nuisance until it was too late.

I often complain about how poor my golf game is. Yet at least with that misfortune I have an excuse - I never was any good to begin with. Fishing on the other hand has always been my calling. Just like with any sport, practice makes perfect and while I was far from perfect it has never been for a lack of practice. But now as I find less and less time for practice it has become apparent to me that my skills as an angler are far from natural abilities. A couple more years like this and I'll be relegated to catching bluegill off the dock on dough balls with my daughter's Snoopie pole.

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