In the summer of 1963 dad took me on my first fishing trip. Dad had the boat up on the rack on top of the Rambler station wagon and had the motor stowed in the back. He packed us a lunch of ham sandwiches, coffee, milk and snacks. I was excited about the fishing trip. Dad had suggested it to me a few days before. Dad woke me up very early on that Saturday. Around 3 AM. It was hard to wake up. However I did. I helped dad pack the lunch and the tackle box, the can of worms and cane poles into the car and off we went to Beadle lake!
We arrived at the boat ramp at Beadle lake and dad took the boat off the roof of the car and tied it up at the dock. Then he clamped the 3 hp Mercury outboard motor to the transom of the small boat. Dad said “Grab our food and coffee Jim. Let’s get out on the lake before the sun comes up.”
The sun would not be up for another two hours. There was a fog hanging over the lake. The street lights in the parking lot lit up the mist in the slightly chilly air.
Dad got into the boat and took his place at the stern. I handed him the cane poles, a thermos of coffee, our food and the can of night crawlers and he helped me into the boat. I took a seat in the bow of the row boat and dad idled the boat into the lake.
Dad stopped the boat and threw out the anchor. He said “Come over here Jim. Bring the worms with you.” I climbed over the middle seat with the can of worms and sat next to dad. Dad took the cane poles and a worm for each and hooked a worm on each hook. He handed one pole to me and said “Put the line in the water Jim and watch the bobber. If the bobber disappears for a second give a gentle tug on the line. You will know if you have a fish. You will be able to feel it.”
I did just as dad said. Presently the red and white bobber plunged under water momentarily. Excited, I tugged hard on the line. The line, the bobber, and the hooked worm went flying into the air. “Gently” dad said smiling. I tried again and this time when the bobber disappeared, I tugged gently. This time the line began to vibrate and move about! I had caught one! Dad said ” Raise your pole”. I did and Dad grabbed the little bluegill and took the hook out of it’s lower lip. Then he said “Too small to keep Jim. We will send him back and give him a chance to grow up.”
I did not mind having to throw the fish back. I learned that day what fishing was all about. It was not about catching fish. It was about the preparation. The being out there on the water before the sun came out. It was the smell of coffee and sandwiches. It was the feel of the slimy worms and wiggly fish. But most of all it was the time spent with my dad. Just being there learning how to fish out there alone in the mist with my dad on that fishing trip long ago.