Way back before the Internet gave us the ability to make complete asses of ourselves, like I do on a regular basis, we had outdoor activities. We went camping. We did not have any televisions or game consoles or air conditioning to keep us indoors.
We roasted marshmallows and took walks in the woods. We swam in the lakes and played volleyball on the beach. We competed in camp races and other activities all summer long.
Now, most of those activities can be done on a Wii. That includes fishing.
Fishing is one of those activities that can be done while drinking which tells me it is not a sport. Professional fishermen should not be called athletes in the same manner that NASCAR drivers shouldn’t. Still, it takes a certain amount of skill and talent to be a Bass Master.
I am not one of these people; far from it, in fact. First of all, I don’t like killing things unless I have to. I’ll save a moth from being stuck in my garage as well as moving a caterpillar off the road for fear it will be squashed. But, as a child, I did go fishing with my father on our many camping trips to parks around Southwestern PA and I did bait my own hooks and clean my own fish.
But it took a while to get the hang of things like casting. I had to have been about seven or eight when my father tried to teach me to cast my own line. Usually, he would cast for me and then hand me the pole. I would take it from there. There’s a ‘teach a man to fish’ joke in there somewhere, I’m sure of it. However, on this particular trip to Keystone State Park he decided I needed to learn how to cast myself. He explained it very clearly.
“Push in the button here. Hold the pole tightly. Raise your arm back and snap your wrist. Let go of the button and then wait.”
I got it. I was ready. I was about to cast my very first fishing line, all by myself. I went over the instructions again and again as I pantomimed the actions.
“Push button. Hold pole, tight. Laugh a little at that. Raise arm. Snap wrist. Let button go. Wait.”
OK, I’m ready. I baited my hook and made preparations to cast.
“Everyone, look out. I am about to cast my line!” My words echoed across the empty lake.
I held in the button. I gripped the pole, tightly, still giggling at that instruction. I raised my arm back. I snapped my wrist. SPLASH!
That splash I heard was my pole hitting the water after it jerked out of my hand. “Oh, no!” I cried. I just threw my fishing pole into the lake. It was gone.
There was a silver lining to all this, though. At some point, during the raising of my arm, the hook dug into the pocket on my dad’s shirt. I had forgotten that he was directly behind me as I casted. The tip of the pole grazed his chin and caused it to jerk out of my hand. So, even though the pole was gone, the worm and hook were still in the boat. That was the good news.
The bad news was that I had already pushed in the button, so the line was free to unspool and it did, as the pole sailed out into the water, away from our boat. My dad cursed every way he knew how as he pulled 300 yards of fishing line out of the lake, looking for the pole at the end.
I spent the rest of that afternoon winding the line, which was now piled up in a mess on the floor of the boat. I didn’t cast by myself the rest of that summer. I was merely given the pole which was already set.
I quit fishing a few years later as it was no longer any fun to gut and clean blue gills. That was the only thing I ever caught. I was the blue gill master with only a few perch in my list of accomplished catches. I never let go of a pole again, though.
Today I am surer of myself as I cast. Why?
Because, I am sure to tightly grip the Wiimote. Then, I giggle a bit and cast my virtual fishing line. No TVs have been harmed, as of yet.