The One That Got Away
Going Fishing With My Dad
Someone once told me that the most important fishing story a person could have was about the one that got away. The freshwater monster or deep sea legend that for whatever reason they couldn't pull aboard. Where the only real reward is the story that you get to tell about it for the rest of your life.
Mine happened in the summer of 2003 with my dad. On a whim he left work early and picked me up. I can't remember whose idea it was to go fishing but I do remember it was a good day for it. One of those humid summer days where there was just enough of a breeze to keep the worst of the heat off.
Now growing up in the country fishing was always a process. The first step was getting bait, growing up we tended not to buy bait unless we were going on the river. River fishing was a little more serious since when done right we could come home with a cooler full of catfish, croaker or perch that could feed the whole family. Whereas, pond fishing was something done for whittling away the hours during a lazy summer afternoon.
So on this occasion we checked the usual places under rocks and patio tiles. We managed to wrangle a couple worms, but the real winner was a fat corn worm from a nearby field. With our meager bait about five earthworms and a single corn worm we set out to go fishing.
The walk to the pond was a short hike through the woods and down a hill. At the time thanks to a few local beavers the pond was filled a whole lot of trees which made navigating our way out on the little john boat a bit challenging. Especially near the shore where we were constantly having to guide it around tree limbs that sat just below the waters surface eager to scrape or puncture the bottom of the boat.
First we tried the worms. The only thing I caught with them was a few sticks, and managed to hook a tree which snapped my line. I remember dad having much better luck he managed to bring in a tiny bass that was promptly thrown back overboard. After a couple hours of breaking lines and hooking sticks we were soon out of worms.
"Last ones all you." I remember him saying, meaning that the grub like corn worm was my bait to use.
Whether the fish in this pond were tired of eating earthworms or I just got lucky, well, to this day I'm not sure. But, minutes after I cast my line it got hit with one of the biggest bites I'd gotten all afternoon. When I pulled back to set my hook our little boat jerked in the water as the fish pulled and it was almost too much for my eight year old arms to hold on to.
If my father hadn't grabbed the pole both me and it would have likely gone into the water. Instead we both held on and tried to reel it in. As we fought it closer to the boat it jumped out of the water and if my dads catch was laughable small then this fish was shockingly large for the pond.
Before we could both even appreciate the size of such a fish it dove back into the water. Clearly realizing that if it didn't change it's strategy soon we'd have it out of the water. And this fish was definitely big enough for us to keep.
As though sensing it's imminent danger it dove under one of the sunken trees. We felt the line go tight before it snapped all together, both of us falling backwards as the tension vanished.
I was disappointed it had gotten away. At that age I couldn't imagine ever catching something like that again. But, then my dad reminded me that we weren't leaving the pond empty handed, now I had a story about the one that got away.
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