When I was a mere whippersnapper, my grandpa took me fishing at the local kiddie pond. I had a black and neon green pole, equipped with foolproof controls (a single button and reel were all that was provided), and he was in charge of all the equipment. Worms, bobbers, weights, and of course, de-hooking any caught fish – all of these things were grandpa’s responsibility, which is exactly how I liked it. Had I been a boy, would I have been required to wrestle fish and impale worms? Possibly; I’ve never questioned the level of sexism involved. Either way, I remember sitting along the bank, my wimp-o pole sitting next to his, and waiting for a bite.
Over the years I continued my fishing skills only infrequently or whenever the opportunity struck. Should I have been invited or offered a borrowed pole, I’d tag along. Purchasing my own equipment, though, seemed expensive and excessive. In the same way that a non-nerd only sometimes rents Star Wars, it’s not worth the investment when you’ll only be watching it once per year.
Those original fishing adventures though, the ones where I sat gap-toothed and in a miniature lawn chair, would also prove to be the ones to shape my fishing habits for life. Now an arguably grown woman, I still fish like a 5-year-old girl. Where I don’t have to touch anything that can touch me back, and fancy knots are for someone else to learn to tie.
This past weekend, when reuniting with recreational fishing, I learned just how far daintiness can get you in life. My boyfriend, a he-manly and bearded one, took me out to a relative’s pond so that we might take a chance at their fattest fish. To be fair, the act was premeditated. I said that I’d very much be interested in holding a fishing pole and reeling in any supposed fish, but anything involving pointed metal would be his responsibility. And my boyfriend, in his outdoorsy, tree-chopping ways, said that was perfectly respectable. That he’d be happy to enable my girlish behavior, just as soon as I made dinner and started a load of laundry.*
A few days later, once at the pond, our agreement stood firm. Like any legally-binding verbal contract, both parties stuck to our proposed duties. While I set up lawn chairs and situated water bottles, he readied the poles and taught me how to cast efficiently. (For bonus points, my boyfriend did not laugh when I cast three feet in front of me, or into an adjacent tree; instead he retrieved the still-intact worm and hook from its branches.) Then he’d offer pointers once my bobber caught action. With the help of his knowledgeable tips, I began catching unsuspecting little fishies. Each time, I’d call to him, “Oh, boyfriend, this fish could use a tending to,” and he would come trudging back through the mud to come to my (and the fish’s) aid.
At the end of the two evening venture, my largest catch tipped the scales at almost two pounds, a successful catch by my standards. The 5-year-old in me was ecstatic, (almost as ecstatic as realizing I owned normal-sized hair and a full set of teeth). And as for grownup me, she’s now happy to go fishing any day of the week, just so long as hero boyfriend can let her do it like the super un-outdoorsy wimp that she is.
*This may have been fabricated.
Cartoon courtesy of Foxlakefishing.com