“Can I catch a fish now?” my five-year-old Grand asked for the third time during a recent Center Hill Lake outing. Dean had laughed and enjoyed his first pontoon boat ride. Now, he splashed in the water with his parents and me. His siblings, Neil, age 3, and 16-month-old Annie, floated beside us. Husband sat on the boat and readied two cane-fishing poles.
Neil echoed Dean. “Fish, now!”
Son, Dean and Neil’s dad, said, “We’re going to get back on the boat, eat lunch, and then we’ll fish.”
Dean quickly ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a peach. “Pop, can I catch a fish now, please?” Dean asked. Husband moved the boat near a downed tree, and then handed Son a tube of crickets. Both Dean and Neil held fishing poles. Cane poles, with hooks and orange bobbers.
A cricket escaped Son’s hand and landed on the boat deck. Neil squealed. Dean jumped. The cricket got away. We women – Annie, Daughter-in-law, and I – moved to the shaded boat seats. After a few more escaping crickets, two were threaded onto hooks.
Dean dropped his line into the water and stood as a statue. “Watch the bobber,” Son said. “When it goes underwater, there’s a fish on your hook. Lift the pole and pull the fish out of the water.” If a fish wanted the cricket on Neil’s line, it would have had to swim to and fro because Neil waved his fishing pole along the boat’s railing. The bobbers bobbed. Not a fish in sight. Neil’s pole crossed Dean’s and the lines tangled. Son untangled the line and again both Grands held their poles. Dean asked, “Am I going to catch a fish now?” Neil chanted, “Fish, oh, fish.”
After fifteen minutes, Son and Husband decided the boys would more likely catch fish near the boat dock, where we saw many small ones before we boarded the boat. A ride across water and again both Grands held fishing poles. Dean lowered his baited hook into the water and a minute later, the bobber disappeared. He lifted his pole. No fish. No cricket. That happened two more times and then Dean jerked the pole and a small brim, about five inches long, wiggled on the fishing line.
“I caught a fish! I caught a fish!” Dean screamed and jumped on the wooden dock. “Look Momma! Look Pop! I caught a fish!” Son held the fishing line and Dean examined the fish closely, not touching it. Son tossed the fish into the water and baited the hook again.
Husband baited Neil’s hook with a worm. The bobber floated only a few seconds before it went underwater. Husband helped Neil lift a small brim out of the water. Neil screamed, “A fish! A fish! I caught a fish!” He crouched low and eyed the fish when Husband dangled it from the line, but Neil didn’t get within touching distance. When Husband said the fish was going back into the water, Neil waved and said, “Bye, bye fishy.”
The next fifteen minutes, Dean and Neil caught fish as fast as Son and Husband baited the hooks. Both Grands squealed and laughed every time one came out of the water. And Neil told every fish bye before it was released into the water.
I took pictures and watched. “Do you know what kind of fish those are?” I asked my Grands.
Neil answered quickly. “Really big little fishes.” Just the kind kids should catch on their first fishing trip ever.