Do things keep you awake at night? I don’t mean ghostly things, but things like worrying about global warming, what is going to happen to Michigan, what is going to happen to the rest of the world, how penguins and polar bears survive in the Brookfield Zoo at temps of plus 80°?
I much prefer the days as a child when I didn’t have to think about these things. I didn’t even know what these things were! When JFK was shot, I think I can safely say, those of us in 6th grade didn’t have a clue as to what this really meant but if this was announced in school today, I bet the 6th graders of today would understand better. I think kids today have too much information to deal with…I know I have a hard time dealing with it and I’m well on my way to being an adult!
I like to remember my Grandpa First teaching me how to fish. We each had a cane pole (of course mine was about 4 times my size because I was “just a little squirt”) and we would go to Long Lake Channel to go bullheading. This usually consisted of Grandpa spending a lot of time getting my line out of the tree at our favorite spot. I KNOW there was other fish in that channel, but bullheads are what I remember catching. Grandpa taught me to ice fish and to hold corn borers in my mouth to warm them up before putting them on my hook (He also taught me to not sneeze with one of those things in my mouth. Then he taught me how to spit). We always caught our limit of panfish while out on the ice. We didn’t have a shanty but Grandpa had built me my own fishing box to sit on. One time I brought up a prehistoric looking fish through the ice hole. I was so excited! It was the biggest fish I’d ever caught but it was scary to look at. It’s “nose” was about 5” long and it had teeth (the NOSE didn’t have teeth, the mouth did). Grandpa told me to throw it back. I told him I wanted to keep it and what was it anyway?? He explained it was a gar-pike, not good for eating and to throw it back. I was good about baiting my own hook and removing my own fish, but I was NOT going to touch that thing…even with my woolen mittens on!
My Grandpa taught me all about digging for worms, how to accumulate them in an old soup can, keep some dirt around them, etc. He forgot to reveal that I should make my Mother aware of the contents since they would be in the fridge at times. He also forgot to mention that even though “expiration dates” and “best if use by dates” hadn’t been invented yet, that there is a “shelf life” of live bait…and then after that it becomes dead bait..and develops an odor just like any dead thing.
Gramps also taught me that some worms are better than others and that will depend on where ya “dug ‘em up” at. You want a worm that is animated and is going to boogie under water (and usually that same worm is pretty darn lively when you are trying to get it on the hook). It seemed the best time to go “night crawler hunting” was just after a rain…and at night in the dark, with a flashlight and without boots. Night crawler hunting with Gramps more often than not included sending me off on a snipe hunt during this excursion but that’s a story for another time (and maybe something you can do with your kids when they aren’t worrying about politics and global warming). He always told me if I got close enough to sprinkle salt “on their tail” he’d give me 50¢. I ended up with more salt in my pocket than in the shaker by the end of the hunt.
I was totally thankful that Grandpa didn’t try to teach me about using leeches as bait because I would have drawn the line right there. I had enough trouble with crickets and grasshoppers. At least with worms, once they were caught they pretty much were at your beck and call. If ya get a container with crickets or grasshoppers, the whole herd will plot their escape while waiting for you to open the lid of the container. Just TRY to get one cricket or grasshopper out of a sealed container.
Grandpa did eventually “graduate” to a rod and reel and then I did too. I eventually graduated on up to artificial worms, usually the black or purple, anise scented ones. At least that is what the package said. I couldn’t detect any odor and I still find it hard to believe that a fish could smell it either.
I do appreciate those memories with my Grandpa and tend to think about them more often than ever. It helps to take my mind off from what is going on today. I can think about spending early mornings or lazy afternoons with Grandpa First, “feeding the fish”, chatting about nothing in particular and not worrying about anything except would we have enough fish for Grandma to clean for supper.
So, Grandpa’s and Grandma’s of the world…TAKE A KID FISHING! Don't wait till you ARE 64!
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