A Random Memory

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was sitting on a floating dock on a particularly cold lake in Arkansas, early in the morning, with Dad. We were fishing. Funny the details I remember. I had a white fishing rod with a black Zebco reel, and I was using a lure called Rebel something-or-other, which was made to go fairly deep, with an enticing wiggly action. The trout were rising at that time of the morning, looking for the morning bugs, which made the choice of lure suspect. Thirty-plus years of retrospect and that’s the only real lesson learned here.

A Boy and his Trout

A Boy and his Trout

I was getting better at casting, which isn’t to say good. I’d send the something-or-other out there, and patiently haul it back in, knowing that if I pulled it in too fast it would dive too deep and snag. Still, it was a good morning, me and dad out there. We had some good times, Dad and me, but not so many simple hanging-out times like that. The good ol’ boys were out in their bass boats, and more than once Dad cautioned me that my voice would carry a long way over the water.

I’d fallen into (my memory says was) silence (ha) and just thrown out a good cast when the fish struck — before my lure had time to dive below the dining line. Splish-splash, tension on the line. I spazzed. I lost the fish.

Here’s where memory gets a bit vague. As I remember, Dad cast to the point of the hubbub, hit it bang-on, and reeled in the fish. Only vaguely do I recall that the fish hadn’t even bit his hook, but he’d hit the fish on the head. I could be confusing memories there. I was young. It wasn’t a spectacular fish, eleven inches as I recall, measured on the ruler embossed on the lid of my plastic tackle box.

In any case, Dad brought home the breakfast. We agreed, there on the dock, that I would take credit. And I did. With gusto, to the point that I really believed that I’d done most of the work catching the fish — Dad had merely scooped up the opportunity I’d created.

I don’t expect many people remember that fish, but I do. It’s time to set the record straight. Dad caught that fish, plain and simple. That notwithstanding, it was a great morning sitting with Dad on that quiet lake. I’d remember it even without the fish.

11 thoughts on “A Random Memory

  1. I don’t remember the story quite the same way – I must have been you who caught the fish, because I didn’t have a license…

  2. When I first starting writing that, I had intended to mention the license issue. And now, thanks to Mom, the photographic evidence has been unearthed.

  3. In many parts of Alaska, snagging is an accepted form of fishing. You can buy special weighted grappling hooks. Drop the hook in and then pull up hard.

  4. As for the socks, I have never been too savvy about fashion, but I think white socks became ubiquitous later in the decade. I do remember in Jr. High P.E. being told that colored socks would not be acceptable, and by then the thought of wearing non-white socks was so odd I wondered if perhaps the gym teacher was referring to the stripes at the top of the sock.

  5. Snagging is also accepted in New Mexico, but under special circumstances — most specifically, it’s allowed in late fall and early winter, when the kokanee salmon are breeding and are going to die anyway. In three areas (the Pine River arm of Navajo Lake, Heron Lake, and the Willow Creek tributary to Heron Lake), snagging season is delayed, to give the fish more time to spawn before they get snagged up.

  6. Wow Jerry with short hair and NO facial hair. That almost outweighs the black socks with white shoes. The vest gets you extra credit. That or you couldn’t swim and your Dad didn’t want to explain waterlogged kid.

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