Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Good Day Fishing

(Sabbath Blog #26)

I went fishing yesterday.

I tell people that I like to fish, but you can’t tell it by the frequency—make that infrequency—of my visits to the fishing hole.

But I did go yesterday with Steve and Blande, two members of our church, to a very nice pond. We had a good day fishing—not a great day, but a good day. We kept seventeen fish, fifteen bream and two bass.

The day put me in mind of some other fishing trips.

There was the trip my parents and I made to Lake George in Florida when I was a young boy. We and a bunch of other people accompanied Preacher Bill, my boyhood pastor, on his annual fishing vacation. We caught a lot of fish that week. But the memory that has stayed with me is not a particularly pleasant one. It was just before sundown and my father, my Uncle Dock, and I were out in a boat. We had come across a trot line (a long cord with hooks dangling from it) and Uncle Dock was fooling around with it for some reason. Daddy gunned the motor, not knowing that Uncle Dock was still holding the trot line. I knew something was up when Dock came running past me in the boat. One of the hooks had become embedded in his hand. Someone had to cut it out with a pocket knife. I watched. You don’t forget things like that.

There was the time that my father and I returned to Lake George with Preacher Bill. My mother had died just a couple of weeks before. The fish weren’t biting and Daddy was very sad. We went home a day early.

There were the trips I made to the irrigation ponds in Calhoun County, Georgia, with my father-in-law. Mr. Johnson was a master at fishing those ponds. They had been formed by damming up some streams but they had not been cleaned out. So, all of the trees and brush were still in them. Mr. Johnson always caught fish. I always caught limbs. He stopped taking me after a while.

There was the trip that Joshua and I made to fish for speckled perch (or “crappie,” the unappetizing name given them by most folks in Georgia) in a canal outside Adel, Georgia, with Virgil, a retired attorney and fine man. Joshua was just a preschooler. We caught a few and then someone landed one that somehow ended up floundering about in Joshua’s face. He cried a little bit. Virgil said we had to go because Joshua was so unnerved. We actually had to go because Virgil was so unnerved!

There was the trip that I made with Steve to Santee Cooper in South Carolina to fish for catfish. Now, that was the way to fish. We had a guide who found the fish, who baited our hooks, and who made the casts. All we had to do was to reel in the fish. He even cleaned them for us. We caught several cats in the 15-20 pound range and I landed one that weighted 47 pounds. Somewhere I have a picture with that big fish hanging beside me; it looked like a small shark.

And there have been others. The saying is sure: “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”

But yesterday was a good day. It was good because it was a day for catching fish, for enjoying friends, and for cherishing memories.

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