Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Making of a Good Fish Tale

A couple of months ago, while talking with Chana, Dovid and Tzipora about their summer visit, I mentioned we might go fishing. And just like that, they decided this was a must do activity. From then on, any discussion of their visit would include the reminder that we were going fishing (with Dovid already concerned about how we'd prepare all the fish we were obviously going to catch). Heck, the first thing they said when we arrived in Boston to pick them up is that they were excited to go fishing and camping.

Now don't get me wrong, I was eager to take them fishing. But I also knew that it may very well not happen, and if it did happen, they may be disappointed with the experience. Fishing often consists of a lot of waiting around, not exactly 7 and 5 year old strengths.

This morning, I realized I'd have a window of time to take them fishing tonight and decided to go for it.

The first problem: I didn't have any gear for them. Without any options left, I went to Dick Sporting Goods, found the fishing section and asked a person working there for help. He walked me through the kid friendly pole options, and handed me the sinkers, hooks and live bait that I would need. He even showed me the multi-color bobbers that he thought the kids would enjoy (which they did).

I considered my rod and reel options: I could buy a low end adult setup, but they just looked huge when I imagined them in the hands of the kids, or I could buy what was obviously kid oriented junk. As a compromise, again at the recommendation of this clerk, I picked up three Zebco Dock Demons. These are short fishing rods, but designed for adult use. I left the store fully armed for our fishing adventure and totally pleased with my brick and mortar shopping experience. Go Dicks!

The next problem: where to actually take them fishing. I'd been considering the C&O Canal in Georgetown, but I wasn't sure that was my best option. So I decided I'd head over to Fletchers Cove: that would get us canal and Potomac access, and most importantly, a small bait shop where I could ask for advice. When I arrived, the guys at the kiosk highly recommended the canal. One of the clerks explained that he and "everyone else" had learned to fish on the canal. Perfect, say no more.

So there I was, with three kids, three tiny rods and a body of water. Let's fish!

I have to say, the kids did amazingly well. Our first few casts into the canal showed no sign of life. But as we walked up 20 yards or so, I could see some smaller fish. I had Tzipora drop her line in, and the fish took her worm. This was fun!

And so for the next 45 minutes or so, we worked this little section of the canal. I'd bait a hook, toss a line out, hand a kid a rod and repeat. While the kids weren't catching fish, they were having their bait taken and getting more and more comfortable with the worms as well as the rest of the process.

And then Dovid announced, as I was helping bait Tzipora's line, that he had a fish on. I went over to help him, assuming that he had snagged the bottom, but found that he had reeled in a catfish. I got a few blurry pictures of it as it flopped around, and then, without any disappointment on my part, we lost it while trying to bring it ashore. Trust me, this guy was huge! He must have been at least 15 inches, if not longer. We'd caught a fish. Hurray!

Before I knew it, it was time to pack it in. The kids all left happy. When they had arrived, they'd been squeamish about the worms, yet and when we left, they were all confident enough to handle the bits of worm left on their hook, tossing it into the canal for the fish to enjoy. They'd come a long way in about an hour.

Speaking of worms, as we were driving to the canal, we had quite the philosophical discussion on the use of worms; PETA would have been proud. The kids were shocked to learn that we'd be using live bait, and couldn't fathom why it was appropriate to skewer and then drowned another creature. I wasn't planning on having such a deep conversation, but I guess I'm glad that they're thoughtful kids. They worried especially that some of the worms may be babies, and wouldn't it be a tragedy if they were hurt.

In the end, the fish got a good meal from us and the kids learned that real fishing is more complex than what they'd imagined. But they also saw first hand that it's tons of fun. Mission accomplished.

I can't recommend the Zebco Dock Demon highly enough for kids. Every once in a while you get lucky with a last minute purchase, and this was definitely one of those times.

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