The Last Word on Life at the Lake: Fish On

Just about every day that I’m home I see a guy or two pull into our cove in a sleek bass fishing boat to cast a few times and then motor away. There must not be a lot of fish near my house, because even though I see people fishing every day, I’ve never seen any of these people catch
a fish.

My two kids and I have had a lot of luck fishing off the dock, but it’s nothing anyone in a bass boat would find interesting. This year I got my own fishing pole, thinking I’d get to use it with my kids. Instead, I spent the entire time fishing untangling their lines, putting worms on hooks, and dodging their back casts.

It doesn’t bother me that I spent most of the time fishing tending to their needs. There’s a well- told fishing story in my family about when my own dad cast out a line for me and then gently told me I had a bite. I set the hook like I was trying to land Jaws and yanked the fish five feet out of the water. In the mayhem, the slack in the line wrapped around one of the dock pylons a couple times, so while I was trying to reel it in it seemed to be putting up a trophy-level fight. My dad would later get his revenge when he dropped his sunglasses off the pier. To retrieve them, he held me upside down by my ankles and lowered me head-first to grab them off a rock by the water.

One night last summer, we were visited by what looked like a UFO landing on the lake. A massive wall of lights moved over the water towards us at a walking pace. My wife called from the bedroom asking if it was a spaceship. “I seriously think it’s a spaceship,” she said. Since it
was so late on a still night, I could hear the boat’s stereo playing Santana, and I ruled out a UFO. And, I thought, if it did turn out to be extraterrestrials at least we could bond over the song “Oye Como Va.”

On my last summer day at the lake, I was about to leave for the airport when I said, “Alright, this is the last cast,” which is guaranteed kryptonite for catching a fish. You will never ever catch a fish on your last cast. At least that had been my experience. As soon as the hook hit the water, my youngest son, who was also fishing pulled a fish onto the dock on his line. I handed off my fishing pole to my oldest son so that I could help. It took a little wrangling to get his fish off and get it back in the water.

As we were wrapping up, my older son holding my rod shouted, “FISH ON” and looked at me in sheer terror as the rod bent in half. I assumed he’d snagged a sunken tree branch that was bobbing along the bottom. He got a few spins on the reel, and I saw the line moving all over and knew he’d hooked something big. I have no idea where he got the idea to yell “fish on,” but between trying to find the net and make sure he didn’t get dragged into the water, I didn’t manage to get my camera out. Unfortunate, because the shock on his face when the massive catfish pulled up next to our dock was priceless. I was secretly glad the line broke so I didn’t have to try to get that thing off the hook.


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