Monday, May 18, 2015

Fish tales ~ my column from Sunday's paper

My 7-year-old great nephew Jordan is a sponge … not a money sponge, although he accepts all donations toward the future purchase of a new game he wants, but he’s a knowledge, skills and experience sponge.

I picked him up from school this week, and he skipped out the door saying, “Guess what?”

“What?” I replied with enthusiasm, and the conversation began. He talked at length about volcanoes, lava, and molten rock.

When the conversation slumped, I asked if he wanted to stop by the forks of the river to see what was going on down there. “Sure.” And we were off.

The parking lot reaches close to the water’s edge and when we pulled in, we saw our old friend Leo Smith helping someone work on fishing gear. When he saw us, he bounded over to greet Jordan. Leo taught Jordan’s mom to fish when she was his age. After getting the fishing news update, we headed home.

Jordan and I had never talked about fishing, but when I asked if he would like to go sometime, excitement crept into his eyes.

When weather permits, he prefers to spend his time outside, so once I parked the truck and unloaded his backpack, we headed out to the deck.

While he flitted after butterflies, I stepped to the shed for something I’d put there 30 years ago. It was a rod and reel that my mom had given me after my dad died.

It took a while to remove the dust and cobwebs, but a clean work cloth and a touch of machine oil cleaned the old rig up nicely. Sorting through my ancient tackle box, I found a crappie lure. It had a lead head with tiny spooky eyes painted on it. Taking wire-cutters from my tool tray, I clipped the hook from the lure and tied it onto the fishing line.

Tying the lure on the line brought a memory rushing back from my childhood. It was of my dad showing me how to tie a lure on my line. For a moment, I smelled the Old Spice on his face and saw the stump of his middle finger that he’d lost in a work accident.

After attaching the lure, I stepped into the yard and called Jordan over. His face lit up when he saw the rod and reel.

The rod was designed for bigger hands, but he quickly adapted. The first few casts were wonky. One time he released the button too soon and the lure went straight into the air and dropped a foot from his head.

Placing an old aluminum dishpan about 20 feet away, I told him to cast toward that. Biting his lower lip in concentration, he quickly honed in on the target. Within a few minutes, he was pinging the pan with the lead weight.

When his mom came to fetch him after work, he demonstrated his new angling skills.

I told his mom to buy him a life jacket and we’d take his antique fishing gear for a test run. I’m sure the badgering for the life jacket began the instant they walked out the door.

Jet headed in the evening sky


  1. I hope he gets his life jacket soon ... so you and he can go fishing... it sounds like you'll both have fun ;-)

  2. How sweet is that? Jordan seems like my kind a man! You gotta love a sponge, of that variety!
    Looking forward to the first 'fish story'. This was a 'sweet entry' as my grandson would say.

  3. Memories abound here in this reading....
    The smell of Old Spice....the memory of tying the lure ....all special and forever memories.
    Your writing brought back some of the same memories for me.
    You are so blessed that your great nephew still has the love of learning within him. That is priceless.
    I envision a life jacket and a fishing trip real soon for him.

  4. Catching a fish is great fun, but not nearly as much fun as watching young boy catching his first fish.

  5. Spending the time to teach a child gives more rewards than just having them know a new skill. The child falls in love with a new project and teaches a wonder that we had forgotten.

  6. Young children do have minds like sponges and they absorb so much. Fishing is one of those things that can bring a lot of happiness. Filling ones mind with good things like that is a wonderful thing. Hope you do get out fishing with him.

  7. I think you mentioned the life jacket with a little glint in your eye knowing she would get badgered:) He must have been so happy to see this fishing pole. My hubby, when young, made a bigger mistake and got the end of the hook into the back of his head...ouch!

  8. Doesn't it warm ones heart when we see such enthusiasm from children, Leo is also a sponge when it comes to knowledge

  9. I'm looking forward to the fish stories you two will have! Enjoy! He's a lucky kiddo to have you to show him the joys of fishing.

  10. Fishing is also a patience game and being out in the fresh air by or on the water is magic.
    Have fun this summer.


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