“Papa…I think it’s a good day to go fishing!”
Nothing delights a Papa more than when his grandchildren call and ask to spend a few hours together around a fishing pole and retention pond you have no idea finds bluegill, bass, and crappies waiting for lunch, with a few turtles taking a bite from your hook when you least expect.
The tackle box is carried by our fishing girls in pink, who each will pick the prettiest lure for their Papa. Gummy worms, spinner-bait, and spoons are irrelevant to them, picking only the ones which sparkle and dazzle their eyes, the lures deemed perfect for the catch of the day.
There’s a quick visit to the Country Bait Shop for minnows, night crawlers, and behemoths for whatever the fish might be biting that day.
A short stop off the road, the Country Bait Shop no larger than a glorified shed has been in business for years. Pickup trucks and boats are parked throughout the day before tournaments, camping trips, or a day spent with your Papa, where fishing stories are shared among strangers parked alongside the other before going about their adventure.
After finally finding our spot around the retention pond, it doesn’t take long before those bored faces and crocodile tears express their disapproval for those fish appearing to be taking a nap.
Class is always in session learning patience and contentment for the beautiful surroundings until the catch of the day is tugging on the fishing pole in your hand.
There are those quiet moments though when sitting next to their Papa is more than enough for them.
But it doesn’t take long before the slides and swings nearby have taken his place.
Then are those serious fishermen of ours who enter into a self-organized tournament each time they are together to determine if their catch of the day earns the trophy for biggest fish, most fish caught, or unofficial ones who got away, each trying to out-match the other, especially their Papa, for the tournament win.
Papa has learned to show no mercy to those dimples and smiles and guard his pole from those thick-as-thieves grandsons trying to add to their tournament haul by reeling in Papa’s fish from his unattended rod, who’s busy fixing their rods for whatever reason they had.
Such is the patience of Papa who’s been baiting hooks and untangling lines since the days those fishing poles his grandchildren in training held were longer than they were tall; who rarely was seen with a rod in his hand back then after paying so much attention to them.
A Papa realized in those early years that the catch of the day had nothing to do with fish, but had everything to do with those moments you caught during an afternoon spent together around a fishing pole and a bucket of bait.
Yes, the catch of the day are those camping trips your daughters and niece and nephew will never forget, those memories you caught around evening campfires, swimming, bicycling trails, bacon cooked on an open stove, s’mores and yes, fishing with them.
Worms and minnows are a small price to pay in exchange for the time spent with your Papa; whose value continually compounds in the tackle box of memories you’ll carry of him throughout your life.
All those fish a Papa and grandchildren have caught return to the pond they are released to.
Because it’s never been about the fish…
It’s never been about the bait…
But always been about time spent together…