This is a story about my young son trying to catch the biggest fish in the pond.
Fathers do things for their children. They take them places and (try to) teach them things.
I like to fish and wanted my son to also like it so we could fish together. I made sure that we went catching instead of fishing. For those who have gone a entire day fishing without catching anything, you know what I mean.
I took him to the fishing show one year to show him around. It is a place where they sell things mostly to catch fishermen’s wallets.
We started the show by dropping quarters into a large fish tank. If the quarter glided through the water and into the shot glass at the bottom, you were a winner with the prize being your choice of worms. He won on the first try and was very excited about it.
I knew his attention span was limited so we went to the trout pond to fish. When I say pond, I mean a temporary pool filled with fish. They were mostly small trout with maybe 3 big boys in the pond (actually the big ones are female). It came complete with plastic palm trees in the middle for décor. You paid your $2 and could keep anything you caught in 5 minutes. The poles were a 4-foot stick with a short line and small hook baited with a mostly inedible piece of plastic half the size of a fingernail.
The odds are with the fish on this one. Especially when they have seen the same bait for 3 days and got fed every night.
My goal was for him to catch anything while I wanted to get enough of the small guys for dinner. I told him that any fish was a good fish.
HUNTING MOBY DICK
Never the small dreamer, he spotted the biggest fish in the pool and said he was going after it. I feared he would be disappointed as everyone threw a line at it, but I knew I could just take him through the line again and tell him to go for something catchable.
I had landed about 3 of the small fish and was well on the way to having dinner by half the time allotted. He kept trying for the big fish (nicknamed Moby Dick).
As time was counting down and I had caught enough for dinner, I heard a huge splash beside me. I looked over and sure enough, my son had hooked Moby.
My new fear was that he would be crushed if the fish spit the hook. The hooks they provided were tiny and easy for the fish get off the line. I saw it happen to every kid before us. If you didn’t get one to the side in less than 15 seconds, it was pretty much over.
This fish was almost too strong for the small stick and line we were given. Over a minute into the fight, it was still on and I knew the odds were against us.
THE FIRST CHANCE TO LOSE THE FISH
Things took a turn for the worse as his fish got wrapped around one of the plastic palm trees. In my mind, I was already preparing to console him for his loss.
I knew I had to try something. After all, I was his Dad so I reached into the tank and grabbed the palm tree. The pond monitors weren’t happy with me but it was my son.
Anyone who ever had a fish on knows that if you get slack in the line, the fish is as good as gone once the line goes taut and the sudden tension pulls the hook out of the fish’s mouth.
To my surprise, Moby stayed on despite the tree incident and he was well past 2 minutes into the fight. Time was now over for that fishing session, but since he had one on we were allowed to finish. We had an audience as everyone waiting to fish and those who just finished could see that he had a good one on.
I decided that if by chance I could get my hands on this fish that I was willing to do anything to get it for my son. I didn’t want him to be disappointed after overcoming virtually everything that could go wrong, just to lose it at the last second. This wasn’t going to be easy, as anyone who has handled a trout knows they have a coating of slime. They are as slippery as greased ice. Landing them is usually done with a net, which we weren’t allowed to use.
PANIC AT THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
I thought nothing more could go wrong, but to my horror I could see that it was foul hooked (hooked on the body rather than the mouth). My sense of the odds of landing Moby were next to nothing now.
After what seemed like a million circles in the pond, Moby came within my reach and I stuck my hand under the fish and threw it out of the pond in one swoop.
On that day, he had landed the biggest fish in the pond, a Dad was proud and a small boy became a fisherman.