by Karen Abbott
My daughter and I finally got down to the river about a week ago. We got our fishing poles, gathered our gear in a backpack, and walked on down.
The sounds of the early evening welcomed us: lawn mowers buzzed, radio tunes wafted up from the boats tied along the canal, sirens rang and dogs barked. The village was astir.
We felt free and adventuresome, like little kids allowed to stay up past their bedtime. She laid out for me what she was expecting.
“Now you’re doing the worms, right?”
I pretended to play dumb.
“I brought the worms. Did you want to put your own on the hook?”
“No, you put them on for me,” she replied shyly. “I don’t want to see the…you know…“
“Guts?” I offered. She nodded.
“And I don’t want you to kill any fishies. I want them to go free back into the water.”
“Yes, well, that’s the plan. But you know, sometimes things go wrong and one of them doesn’t make it.”
“I know,” she sighed. Silence.
I chuckled. My earth-lover has such a big heart.
“Well, if you don’t want to hurt worms or fish, that pretty much rules out fishing, doesn’t it?” I kidded with her.
“Mommy…” she scolded.
It wasn’t long before she had a small school of bluegills tapping on her halfsie. She pulled up one after another, swinging them over my way to “Hurry and unhook him, Mommy!”
I’d wipe my hands on my pants and pick up my pole again, only to have her squeal and whirl another in my general direction. I resigned myself to unhooking and baiting, and savoring an evening with my daughter.
I’m sure that’s what my dad went through for us kids, growing up on the river in Fulton. We spent many an afternoon walking out along the concrete retainer to the end, where the churning water lured larger fish.
I think I knew, after awhile, that I could very well bait my own hook. But I still liked to have him do it for me. Maybe it’s the outdoorsman’s version of opening a door for a lady.
One day, I hooked up with a fish that had some serious pull-power.
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