05 July 2007

Fishing on The Fourth of July


Rosalind's always ready to rise and shine
"A-fishing we will go,
a-fishing we will go,
I'll catch a trout
without a doubt,
a-fishing we will go."


I cannot take full credit for this new song I made up, sung to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell." Many years ago, my brother taught this version to his children when they were going deer hunting in Oregon:

"A-hunting we will go,
a-hunting we will go,
I'll shoot a buck
with my good luck,
a-hunting we will go."

I taught the fishing version to my boys when we all went fishing on the Fourth of July. We got up early (5:30--which is "normal" for Rosalind), and arrived at our destination by six.

The rest of the gang still waking up

The perfect fishing hole
It was wonderfully overcast and gray, and actually began to sprinkle a little: perfect fishing weather. We met up with one of our good friends, Dale, and walked the quarter-mile from the freeway underpass to a rather secluded spot on Darby Creek in the outskirts of Havertown. We had been there once before, and I proudly showed the men the prize fishing hole I had discovered: over the flood bank at a nice elbow turn of the water, under a large tree, the creek bed drops like a giant shelf, and the deep dark water hides the bottom of the creek. Looking in, it was easy to see three or four large trout, one which appeared to be some kind of albino that looked to be easily 18 inches in length.



The kids' fishing area, on the other side of the log

The best fishing hole was at a great location, but rather difficult to manage with a baby and young aspiring fishermen with Disney-brand fishing poles. So while the men and boys surveyed the area and baited hooks, I waited with the baby on the main path, partially protected by a large tree, hoping the raindrops would soon pass. But the rain kept coming. After looking around I decided to take cover under the base of the tree, and I realized that it was accessible to a different area that would be a perfect place for the kids to practice their casting--shallow enough to walk in with no worries, and no obstacles to get snagged on, but unfortunately, not a single little fish in sight.


I schlepped all the stuff under the tree, and convinced the boys to help me set up "base camp" (to give the men a chance to catch the whoppers). Then we did a little "fishing," and had a few snacks, found some fresh deer tracks (I had seen a forked-horn there the time before), and had a grand old time. The "camp" was close enough that I felt safe to leave the kids there while I walked over to check on the fishermen, and even was able to sneak in a couple of casts before the typical yelling and crying started up again.


Happy "campers"

Rosalind enjoying her adventure
Once the rain cleared, we moved everything back over to the bank, and ate lunch on the purple blanket. After lunch as Rosalind slept, I got a few more chances to cast in a line.


These Cheerios are good, Mom



Two keepers
The men were using worms, and had switched to power bait, yielding two good-sized keepers. I decided to be different and baited my hook with frozen corn from Rosalind's lunch. After a lousy first cast, my second cast was a winner.

I could see the flash in the water as the fish violently swam in all directions. I felt the intensity and tension on the line, and my instincts from childhood flooded me with the rush of adrenaline. I pulled hard, hoping to not snag the line on the rock shelf, and reeled in as fast as I could. I was thinking, "land, land, get it onto the land," and "don't get caught on the rocks" at the same time, while Dale was encouraging me to take it easy and not reel it in too fast. No sooner had he said it, before I could adjust my reactions, the tension broke loose, and the line was calmly drifting again.

Rosalind being particularly photogenic
My ears faintly throbbed and my arms tensely shook as I closed my eyes, shook my head, and whisper-shouted, "Oh, oh, man!" I could hear Enoch and Dale asking me questions and telling me what I should have done differently while I reeled in a naked hook. Thankfully the hook and line remained intact, and I could quickly re-bait it with the corn I carried with me. I was eager to get my line back in the water before some small person had some personal crises that required some parental intervention. This time I would let the fish have a swim first before I landed him and made all the serious fishermen admire and envy me at the same time.

If only fishing with pre-schoolers were that easy. I did get a couple of more casts before being called away to my motherly responsibilities, and was a bit satisfied to see that the other fishermen were beginning to bait their hooks with my corn as I left.


Ready to go home and fry 'em up
By the time the problem was resolved, the men were coming up the bank, ready to gut the two keepers and call it a day, while I was thinking, "I only need about 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to catch that big sucker. Maybe the men could keep the kids happy for 5 minutes or so..." It was not to be.


gutting the fish

Fishing with the boys

I am thankful: everyone had a great time, we did have fresh trout for lunch that day, and I did catch a fish, even though it got away. All the rest of the day, Enoch kept reminding me of how beautiful that fish on my line was. "You should have seen it, Honey. Oh! It was so big! It was bigger than the biggest one. Probably at least 18 inches, at least! It was a beautiful fish..." In my mind's eye, I remembered it's flash, the vigorous and heavy pull on my line, and the brevity of the moment was gone.

That night as I lay in bed, all I could see when I closed my eyes was that deep, green water, and four or five large fish, one of them white, calmly waiting for something irresistible to come floating down off of that rock shelf, preferably attached to my hook.

2 fishermen under a tree

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