Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I took my four-year-old, Tommy, fishing for the first time last week. Since I have Tuesday mornings off we have plenty of time to go to the lake when he wakes up in the morning. In NC, children can fish on their parent's fishing license until they reach 16 years of age. So last Tuesday we headed down to Lake Wylie with his Superman fishing pole, "Cars" tackle box, and a carton of nightcrawlers.
Tommy loves the idea of fishing but I was really interested to see how he liked the actual activity. He really seemed to enjoy himself! A few things I took away from our first fishing trip: he enjoys it for about an hour --- actually his interest waned noticeably in the latter 30 minutes; he LOVES to talk and he can't quite grasp that fish don't enjoy his conversation as much as daddy & mommy do; worms don't really bother him much but he'd rather I bait the hook (which is fine with me because we haven't had to deal with self-inflicted injuries yet); and casting the line is almost as much fun as reeling in a fish.
Nature is a remarkable thing. We had no bites for the first 15 minutes our lines were in the water, then in only 5 minutes we caught the only two fish of the morning. While I was trying to free a young bass from my line (the fish swallowed the hook --- more on that in a second), Tommy caught a large bluegill on his line. Tommy laughed and seemed really pleased with himself as he posed with his first fish. We shared a true male bonding moment. Then he was hot, hungry, and itchy from the grass so it was time to go home.
I realized, as I failed to save my fish from a hook-induced death, that I am not cut out to be a sportsman. I guess that makes me a good veterinarian, but I really regretted the death of my fish. I actually felt a twinge of guilt and sadness at the fish's passing though I don't think Tommy noticed anything. I remember fishing with my dad when I was little. While I recall the sound and trauma associated with yanking a hook from the belly of a fish, it didn't affect me then the way it does now. I suppose that's what happens when you take an oath to protect animals from harm. Even the smallest creatures work their way into your psyche (for the record, I also try to avoid stepping on bugs and hitting squirrels with the car).
I know that I will continue to fish with Tommy. We have a special connection when we head down to the lake and he is going to be my tender hearted animal lover. There's definitely something therapeutic between father and son when you sit quietly with a fishing pole.