I’ve always loved to fish. I’ve always thought I always would. Fishing first with my brother as kids, out at our family beach place on Treasure Island, we’d be rolling with the tide, all day in that little red Gnat, the rowboat our grandfather left to us. We were rarely lucky enough to catch a large enough edible. But we managed to regularly fill the bow of our skiff with bullheads, dog sharks, flounders, and jellies. And we kept them, offering them up to our mom to bury in her little garden until she canceled the contract.
After that, our catch found its way onto the big rock that couldn’t be moved from our parcel of the beach, the one that served as surgery table and laboratory. We found all kinds of things while performing surgeries on those unlucky dogfish bellies: live shrimp, bits of trash - even way back then - lures, tiny remnants of unsuspecting crabs, and smaller fish. For the jellies, we’d dig a big hole in the beach and pour them in. Some adult told us that a jellyfish could reproduce itself from any one of its pieces, so we stirred them into a soup with big sticks. Inquisitive young scientists, we were in those days.
Our sister presided over the stairway and landing leading up to our mobile home on the ledge. She was a beachcomber and exacted a toll to come through her ‘shell-station’. Pieces of dead sea creatures were not acceptable so we would save crab shells, agates, or whatever she was featuring in order to call it a day and give mom her smelly prizes and get some PBJ’s and sodas.
Later in my high-school life, I spent many a day fishing from a dock on American Lake, Lakewood, WA. Fishing there acquainted me with a young man who would become my young husband some years later. Our early marriage entertainment revolved around fishing trips, learning how to smoke and jar trout, cure salmon, tie flies. We didn’t get much beyond that together, other than producing two beautiful children that would soon become ghosted. Fishing, it turns out, was not enough to redeem us. Nevertheless, fishing was an activity neither of us ever tired of throughout life. He pursued it vigorously, our son inherited his dad's enthusiasm, and I got busy with other things.
I dream of fishing still, somewhere wonderful and warm, like Rio or México. I bought a license in Florida to fish the Keys a couple of years ago and found I’d lost my mojo; I only caught one fish large enough to grill for that $70 licensing set-back. That was fun fishing for the first time in years out there in a kayak amongst the mangroves. But, actually, fishing is less enchanting than dreaming about it to me these days. The frustrations of tying lines, hooks, untangling lines and hooks, trying not to gravely injure any fish I do happen to catch so the little guy, always a little guy, can survive the throw-back and live to be caught another day or swallowed whole by that larger more desirable fish I was hoping to catch. Needless frustrations in these golden years. One fishing joy remains for sure, my brother’s Fishing Song.
Listen to it right here: Phil Wood - The Fishin’ Song
Click on this link to see and hear brother Phil sing Fish!