Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Last Cast Remembered

Have you ever actually caught a fish on what you said would be your very last cast at any fishing spot? It certainly does not happen very often. What is more likely to happen is you decide to cast a few more times and make them your last casts, then do it again and again until you give up in frustration. Getting you away from that spot is akin to pulling hen's teeth, or to catching  a world record, but sooner or later you call it quits.

My son once begged me for five more casts, and that was only after having already cast his last five casts before the five new last casts for which he asked that final time. I was getting antsy wanting to get on the road because we had a long drive ahead of us. So, when his pole bent, and he leaned back so it bent to just about the breaking point, I swore he was caught on a rock. The pole was not bouncing up and down at all like if there was a fish on the other end of the line and I was convinced but he insisted he had a fish. I took the pole from him expecting to have to break the line and telling him he was stuck on a rock. I was ready to break the line and lose the lure but he again swore it was a fish as he was handing the rod to me. Suddenly, the reel screamed as line ran out just after I had grabbed hold of the rod and given it a little tug. Damn, it was a fish and on his last cast!

I was amazed and I handed him back the pole quickly. A few minutes later - after a fierce but determined battle - not only did he have the fish, a nice sized brown trout, he also had a big smile on his face and he was standing tall and proud. The trout went right back into the water and swam away looking okay. At first Brendan seemed dismayed to be letting it go but as I told him then - we were letting it go so we or someone else could catch it again another day. He agreed that was exactly what we should do and that day a true a sportsman was born. I wonder to this day if someone else ever had the same thrill of catching that very same trout. Maybe someday, Brendan and his son will catch a lunker there.

Thank goodness I had remembered I had a Kodak disposable camera (no camera phones then) in my pocket before we let that nice brown trout go, especially since it was his first. I wish I had taken some shots of him wading out into that cold water. When I had asked where he learned to fish like that, he said from watching fishing shows on television. Brendan was about 10 or 11 as best I can recall although it could have been a bit earlier in his years than that. 

Many years before that day, my uncle took me there and introduced me to that secret fishing hole, a pool under a waterfall in upstate NY. He told me we would catch a big brown trout there with a certain spinner - a Panther Martin yellow spinner with red spots it was. Sadly he no longer remembers doing so but such is the cost of living into your 80s.

Anyway, it probably was back when I was 15 or so that he took me there but me and my uncle never caught anything there. Over all the years in-between me being about 15 through 46 or so, I never fished there by myself and I never had much luck with that kind of lure either. Somehow though, the memory of that special fishing hole kept its place in the depths of my psyche as did my habit of buying that same lure over and over again despite not catching much with it. Somehow too, the dream of catching a nice trout at that exact fishing hole with that exact lure never faded away either.

Sometime along the way the Fates must have smiled upon us and reserved that day for us - me and my son. They also evidently reserved that fish for Brendan and his smile for me so I could feel the joy Brendan was feeling at that precise moment. And yes, we used a new lure but it was the exact same kind as it had been so many years before. Wish my uncle had been there with us then but damn I was lucky to be with my son.

Brendan has moved out of state and while we still fish together, it is not often but just now and then when we get a chance. When I was down in Arkansas visiting Brendan in March of this year, we canoed and fished the Caddo river together with two of his buddies. Once again, only one of us (us meaning me & Brendan) caught a fish, a single smallmouth bass. Yep, it was on the very same kind of lure and this time it was me who caught it. It too went right back in the water.

Life does not get much better unless of course you are both catching fish but isn't that why they call it fishing instead of catching. Brendan will be up this way in June and I am hoping he will spare the time for us to go out on the ocean on a party boat to fish for whatever is running at the time. That would be excellent whether or not we catch anything but I hope to see that smile on his face again when he reels in a big one.

All the best,
Glenn B

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