By Cyndi Pratt
“. . . she thinks we’re just fishin’.” So goes a line in a popular country song. The song is about a dad and his small daughter going fishing and the daughter tells her dad about her kitten, her clothes, things she likes. The dad gets to share time with his daughter, learning about her ideas and what is important to her while the daughter thinks they are “just fishin’.”
I used to take my kids fishing when they were young. My husband traveled a lot for the company, helping sister newspapers with press problems during several of those years so he didn’t get to go with us very often.
He wasn’t real fond of fishing anyway, but he went along when he could. I grew up loving to go fishing with my dad so I tried to take my kids whenever time permitted.
There were several places near where we lived that were good fishing spots. So, we packed snacks and drinks or maybe a picnic lunch, depending on how long we intended to be gone. Sometimes we would go after work and school for an hour or two. Sometimes we went on Saturday and spent several hours.
We spent the time together, talking, enjoying nature. I learned about my children’s friends, favorite things, dreams, dislikes. . .
Sometimes we caught fish worth keeping, but most of the time we just had fun and enjoyed being together. My daughter occasionally took a book to read instead of her rod and reel, but we were still together and the conversation just might be more important than the book.
My kids learned to bait a hook, use a crappie jig and have patience. They learned to cast a line without tangling it in a limb, weeds or another person. They learned to gently handle a wriggling fish and when to release it kindly back into the water. They learned to avoid catfish whiskers that could stick a hand like an icepick and that creek water was fine for rinsing fish scum from hands.
They learned to avoid getting too close to the pond if they didn’t want to wear wet shoes and socks ‘til we got home. They learned that cheese and crackers and cold pork and beans make a nice lakeside meal.
They learned that enough silver dollar size crappie and sun perch fillets will make a decent meal. They learned the thrill of a feeding frenzy when the fish were so enthralled with whatever was tossed in the water they were almost taking bare hooks.
My son told my husband a while back that those times when I took the kids fishing were some of his favorite memories and he wanted to create memories like that with his own kids.
I didn’t realize when we were making those memories that “just fishin’” could be so important.
Those memories were not expensive. We just invested a little time.
But, that time together was precious and priceless and it still is.
Cyndi Pratt remembers fondly the times spent fishing with her dad. She remembers hand digging garden worms for bait and using a cane pole. She remembers a 2-foot-long rod and reel her dad gave her that was “just her size.”
She also remembers — not so fondly — wading through waist high weeds to get to a pond and the subsequent chigger bites.