Wisdom of youth sets veteran angler straight
It’s has been decades, really, since I’ve used a baitcasting reel.
I picked one up at the Ultimate Sports Show in Grand Rapids earlier this year and it sat collecting dust until recently. On a recent warm, sunny afternoon, I decided to spool it up and head over to a local lake to give it a try. How hard could it be? Right?
That’s where I met Jordan.
The freckled-faced 10-year-old was as friendly as a puppy after a brief introduction and after he realized that I was a “fisherman too.”
“Hey Bill, ya want some worms,” he offered with unspoiled generosity. “You’re gonna hafta put a worm on if ya want to catch any fish.”
His offer was spot on and sincere, but since all I really wanted to do was learn to cast my new baitcaster, I politely declined the generous offer he held out to me with dirt-caked fingers.
“Them are hard to use,” he informed me about my new baitcaster. “My brother (older I assumed) has one and he never uses it ‘cause it always gets tangled up.”
“Huh,” I thought to myself. Generous, polite and wise beyond his years. I liked this kid.
While Jordan dabbled with the worms I set the adjustments on my reel as I’d been instructed upon purchase, raised my rod tip and cast my jig.
“Hey Bill, you want me to go home and get you a different fishing pole,” Jordan asked, as I began to untangle the bird’s nest. “You ain’t gonna’ catch nothin’ with that one,” he proclaimed with a fair amount of certainty as he cast his bobber towards a shallow weedline.
“It’s my first time using this rod and reel,” I informed him in no uncertain terms. “I’m just trying to get the feel of it, ya know?”
His bobber dipped under the water and he quickly set the hook.
“Got one!” he yelled with a shriek, and began reeling it in.
He looked over at me and smiled… maybe smirked… while he hauled in a fat bluegill.
“That’s a nice one,” I commented, while struggling with the tangled mess.
I finally got it straightened out, adjusted my reel a little and tried another cast.
Same result, but the mess was a bit more tangled this time and took longer to untangle.
Meanwhile, Jordan was catching fish and having a blast.
“Got another one!” he boasted.
Then we talked. Apparently, he, his brother, sister and mother had just moved into the neighborhood. He was “the first to come down here fishing,” he explained.
When I told him I’d been fishing at this spot for close to 50 years he got quiet in thought.
“You ever catch fish when you come down here?” he quizzed, as I continued untangling.
“Most of the time,” I answered.
“Just not today, huh?” he surmised.
If I didn’t know better I’d swear he was chiding me, but I’m sure he was just being genuinely curious.
A couple more casts, more adjustments and more bird’s nests. This wasn’t working out how I had planned.
By now I was doing everything I could to refrain from throwing my new rod and reel in the lake and joining Jordan with a push-botton outfit.
“Got another one,” Jordan said as a big smile crossed his face.
“Nice one,” I offered. “Good job.”
“Thanks,” he said graciously, then added again, “I can go get my brother’s good fishing pole for you, if you want. I don’t think you’re going to catch anything with that one.”
Sometimes kids have more wisdom and kindness than we give them credit for.
I politely declined and told him I had to be home shortly for dinner. “Good luck, Jordan,” I said as I packed up my rod and reel and headed home.
Hope I see my new buddy down at the lake again. Next time maybe I’ll bring my spincaster and fish along with him.