A fish tale

Published 1:59 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2011

As a full fledge country girl, I know the smell of fishing bait in the morning, the sound of crickets in the grass along the shore, the feel of the wind blowing over a small pond and the sheer release of peacefulness as you sit and watch a bobber.

You wait and watch. Hoping for a fish to take the bait, but while you sit alone with your thoughts, you are open to the universe as you push aside the cares of the world and fixate on the good things.

You should never think while fishing, just absorb the natural resources around you.

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Not all fishing is sitting idle; you can also be proactive and cast your bait, tempting the underwater trout with dangling lures, reel them in and cast again. This requires a more skillful art and eventually you learn to trick the worthy opponent by picking fishy spots such as by a rotten log or overhanging bank to land your bait, out-maneuvering and outwitting the hidden fish.

Can you tell I love to fish?

It’s not about the bells and whistles, although fishermen can spend some serious money with gadgets, technology, special tools, lures, reels, and flashy boats. These are the guys trying to mimic the professional dudes. I never had that kind of fishing budget.

My skills are not as honed, and my pocketbook can only offer elite worms or an occasional spinner bait from Wal-Mart. But the great thing about fishing is both the rich and the poor participate. Just like any sport, you have many layers of partaking.

Growing up some of my best memories are of fishing, heading to a local pond with my grandmother. We stayed for hours enjoying very little activity and usually catching a few fish that we may or may not take home for a meal.

My dad loved to fish the Pearl River and I have spent many an hour trying to emulate his skill. I got my love of fishing from him, because he spent much of his life out on a boat or by a bank. It was precious time spent together.

Rheumatoid arthritis took fishing away from dad. Even now, unable to get around except by wheel chair, I know he would give anything to hold a rod and reel again, to once more pull in a bass. How I wish I could give that to him.

I am watching my twins spend those same cherish moments with their dad as we take them fishing. Many of our weekends are spent near the water, on a pond, a lake, or canoeing a north Alabama River.

Recently, I wrote an article for Life on the Water magazine that put me in touch with Ray Scott, known as the ‘godfather’ of modern bass fishing. He is a legend. He also has a fishing retreat in south Alabama in which the article was about. When he called me, I was so honored, knowing the tremendous history of this fisherman.

Mr. Scott was so down to earth and likeable that it made me seal the theory that if you are fisherman on this earth, you must be of great character.

Think about it, Jesus used fishermen for his disciples.

Fishermen (and women) spend a lot of their time among the beautiful outdoors of this land. Being in that natural atmosphere does something to your soul, enriches it.

Even if the fisherman is not catching anything, he finds the trip satisfying. Why do people get so much joy from fishing?

If you have never caught a four pound bass out of small rural pond and felt that excitement, that challenge met, or wondered if the small creature was going to pull you in before you pulled him out, then you have missed some of the greatest moments this life has to offer.

Yes, watching a Saints game is exciting, but so is pulling in a big one.

There were two things that made Uncle Bubba grab his heart pills. Fishing and Saints.

Years ago, he and my dad would sit near a local pond and fish. Both suffered with RA so they could barely sit in a lawn chair and participate, but they squeezed out a handful of trips, knowing few fishing excursions were scheduled on their life calendar.

One day, Bubba reeled in the big one and was so thrilled that he had to take his nitroglycerin pills. He would have died happy at that moment.

Fishing is not about catching dinner; I admit I have spent hours trying to catch dinner because I didn’t have much else to cook.

Catch and release fishing is for the recreational fisherman because it promotes nurturing our waterways for future fishermen. Conservation is a big concern for the true fisherman, to protect and be good stewards of the resources. They have to be because in these days of careless boaters and trashy folks who litter the environment has no thought of stewardship.

Fishing is a big business now. It has superstars like other sports.

You never know when you might be fishing a quiet little creek, like Carl and the twins were on Sunday in their canoe, thinking you found a good fishing spot that is impossible for boats to reach when all of sudden a fifty-thousand dollar flashy Bass Pro-shop boat comes along with another one following. One boat holds the camera crew, as they film Kevin VanDam, a career Bassmasters tournament series winner. He is the ‘it’ man of fishing. He is catching what could be the four pound bass that puts him over the top to finish second in the Dixie Duel and secure his record fourth consecutive bass angler of the year award.

At least, that is who they think it was. The film crew turned their cameras on them as they paddled away, a father and two sons fishing on father’s day. How appropriate.

If you are wondering where I was, since I love to fish? Well, have you ever tried fishing from a canoe with two ten year olds? Exactly.

Fishing should not be stressful!

I get to throw a line once in awhile still. I have always lived in a fisherman’s paradise, even now in North Alabama. It still brings me to a place of serenity.

Maybe fishermen are deep thinkers rather than non thinkers. Perhaps the answers to the world’s troubles are awaiting the right person to cast a line.

Fishing contributed to why I turned out to be a pretty decent character.

Fishermen never lie about the one that got away; they merely have fuzzy vision and creative memory.

Tracy Williams is a syndicated columnist and can be reached via her Face Book page, My Hometown Column. Become a fan.