Fishing With Father

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    It’s 4:30 in the morning and I feel like my eyes are glued open. I’ve been waiting for this weekend for over two months, and it’s finally here. I know my father will be down in just a few minutes to wake me up, but it’s all I can do to keep laying here pretending to be asleep. Finally I give in to the urge and jump out of bed. My father is standing in my doorway, the hint of a smile appearing on his lips before he gives me a slight nod and turns away.
    Hastily I grab the clothes I laid out the night before and throw them on, rushing down the hall and pulling on my shoes at the same time. I launch myself into the kitchen to find two brown paper bags, each containing two ham biscuits, which I grab on the way through. I find my father again, gathering up tackle and inspecting the fishing rods and reels. As I watch, he grabs the two Piscifun baitcasting fishing reels that are his favorites and adds them to the others we will take with us.
    After what seems like an eternity, we are finally ready to go. We reach our favorite fishing spot just in time to watch the sun rise over the distant horizon, and the first rays pierce the light fog dancing just above the water. We walk down a short trail to the water’s edge where there are two large rocks perfect for sitting and fishing.
    My father inspects fishing the poles one last time, then equips each one with a shiny, new fishing hook. From there he takes out a tub of night crawlers, opens it, and sets it between us. I watch him take out one of the plump worms and work it around on his hook, and I try to do the same with mine. It doesn’t turn out as good, but I am proud the worm doesn’t go flying off when I cast my line into the water, and out of the corner of my eye I can see my father nod in approval. I puff out my chest just a little and reach for my other pole when I see the bobber on my first line briefly dip below the water.
    Dropping the other pole, I ever so gently pick up the pole I have in the water, being careful I don’t send any tremors down my line to warn the fish away. A minute passes. I am focusing so intently on the bobber I notice every detail down to the single drop of water clinging to my line, the sun reflecting tiny prismatic lights through it. It dips again, quickly and lightly; just a nibble. I restrain my mounting excitement and hold my rod steady. Another minute passes. Then two. Just as I’m thinking the fish decided against taking my bait, the bobber disappears completely under the water!
    I jerk my rod up and feel it snag the fish. At the same time, my arms are jerked out in front of me as the fish fights back. Before I know it, I’m standing shin deep in one of the oxbows of the mighty Mississippi, along the border of Tennessee, having the most ferocious fight with a fish in my life, and it’s all being witnessed by my father. I see him out of the corner of my eye start to get up to come help me, but I spare a quick second to wave him away. I got this.
    After another fifteen or twenty minutes my arms feel like gelatin, water is up to my knees, and I’m sweating profusely. I know this is a big fish on my line, but the reel I’m using isn’t the best and I don’t know if it can get the job done. My father has grabbed the fishing net and is standing patiently beside me. With one final heave I bring the fish closer, it’s now within five feet or so of where we are standing. My father lunges forward and scoops it up in the net. Relieved I can finally release the tension in my arms, I glance into the net and see the biggest bigmouth bass I’ve ever seen!
    Back on the shore, my father untangles the bass from the net and holds it out to me. I hold it up while he takes a picture. “You did well, son,” he says, “I think you earned this.” In his hand he is holding out one of his Piscifun baitcasting reels. My father is a man of few words, but in this instance, none were needed. I took the offered reel, baited it, and continued fishing, occasionally glancing at the huge bass in our wire fishing trap, then back to my new fishing reel. I had never felt so proud.

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