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That's Why They Don't Call It Catchin'
Nate and his fish


                I’m a lousy fisherman.

I don’t know what rod to use for my situation.  I pull out a deep-sea rig when I fish in a Georgian lake and would use a fly pole off a head boat out of Redondo Beach harbor. The tip action doesn’t matter to me and I can’t imagine a fish on the other side knows between a spinning reel and a conventional style. But they must because they never seem to nibble my bait.

Bait is the other thing about fishing that I don’t quite get. My mind boggles at the array of artificial baits available to entice the suckers onto the boat. I don’t mean the real suckers; we want to leave them on the bottom doing the sucking. We want the ones that aren’t suckers naturally making them much harder to catch.

I don’t like using lures because there is too much to do. I have to cast out and then continuously reel it back in. All that work runs counter to all the reasons to fish. It gives me a great excuse to do nothing around the house and start drinking beer before noon. I’ve seen it myself in others, they real in the lure without putting down the can, but I just don’t possess that level of dexterity.

Live bait is a more natural yet unnerving way of making a catch. I am putting a live fish on the line to catch a presumably larger fish. This easily makes sense to me cause of all the cartoons that I watched impressed in me that logic.

I started this blog wishing to tie my ineptness at fishing with my struggle with writing. But I changed my mind. I’m going to make it about Nate and his fishing.

I had the good fortune of having my son Nathan visit me in Atlanta when I was there on location. One Saturday we went on a boat with a guide that knew the vast lake and had the right equipment to give us the best opportunity to reel something in.

Herschel Hanratty was at us from the start. He didn’t give us any slack and we didn’t ask. He cajoled Nate the whole time, ribbing him on how to bait the hook, how to hold the rod, how to stop f-ing with the rod and put it in the holder, how to bide the down time by getting ready to bait for the next fish, and how to properly bend the bill of his Pro Bass Shops hat. And to Nathan’s credit, he listened and learned. I am to old to be taught new tricks. I frittered and fretted, read during the downtime, walked away from my rod to go to the cooler, and wore a Panama hat that just pissed old Hersch off.

Nathan was rewarded with the first and as it would turn out the largest fish of the day. A ten-pound stripper. It was amazing that he boated the monster. His tip was down and Hersch would bellow “git dat tip up sohhn. Yul snap yur line.” The tip went up and from the bow,”Damn sohhn, yul snap da dadbum pole.” Tony was there with the net and the fish was lifted over and dropped to the security of the deck. Nathan’s smile a wide as the lake he bent over to dislodge the hook. All I was able to do during the whole process was take some pictures and cheer him on. Hersch even laid off…a little.

For the rest of the day there were a few more fish caught between Nate and the three other men. I even caught a crappie. But nothing near Nate’s whopper, he was the king.

I know what they say, “Hitting one home run doesn’t make you a home run hitter,” but as for Nathan and his first trip out on the water, that fish made him a fisherman and in the eyes of us five other men, the best one that day. When people ask about how the day went, Nate easily replied, “I was a good day of catchin’.”

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I hope you share your writing with the boys -- in particular, Nate. With this blog, you do finish things. Perhaps you could help Nathan set up a blog of his own if he's still writing.
Julie Hooker