Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)
TITLE: Fishing with Grandpa
By Bonnie Way
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My younger brother and Uncle Ken were on the other side. I waved to them, but they were too busy setting up their rods to notice me. I turned back to Grandpa. He had put his fishing rod holder in the ground and inserted his rod, and was ready to help me with mine. I pried open the container of marshmallows that Grandma had given us. She kept stale marshmallows for Grandpa because the fish liked them better than worms. Grandpa’s strong, square hands helped me guide the white lump onto the sharp hook. Then he showed me how to cast the rod before setting up his own rod. We settled down to wait.
Sunlight sparkled on the ripples on the pond. I stared into the dark water, trying to picture the fish swimming underneath, eyeing our stale marshmallows. On the far side of the pond, the other fishermen were reclining with their poles in the water. They waved to me now, and I waved back. A gentle breeze wafted over us, rustling through the grasses in the adjoining field. I jiggled my rod.
Minutes wore on as the fish contemplated the hook. I investigated the barbed wire fence and weathered fence poles. I explored Grandpa’s tackle kit, and wished that the marshmallows weren’t quite as stale so that I could sample them as well. Then I asked Grandpa if I could go visit Uncle Ken. He gave permission, and I tramped back through the mud and around the pond, weaving my way through the poplar trees to where they had set up their fishing. They were quite contentedly watching their poles nodding over the pond, but no fish were biting there either.
When I got back to Grandpa, some white specks were floating on top of the pond. He explained that the marshmallows weren’t quite stale enough, as they had floated off the hooks. I wondered if we should replace them, but he said no.
Then suddenly my rod was bobbing, jerking, the string taunt. A fish, a fish, I cried, and Grandpa calmly put his rod into the holder and came over to help me reel the fish in. Bit by bit, it fought us, and bit by bit, we pulled it in, until a slender, sparkling, silver trout lay flopping on the grass. I grabbed Grandpa’s stick and whacked the trout on the head, and it lay still. I eyed my prize proudly as Grandpa wrapped it in a Safeway bag to hang on the fence pole. He helped me put another marshmallow on my hook and we returned the hook to the depths of the pond.
Then I divided my time between watching my fishing rod and checking on the trout. It was slightly less interesting when, on our way out of the field at the end of the afternoon, we stopped to eviscerate the day’s catch. Grandpa carefully showed us how to slit the fish open and spill the guts out, to be fed later to the farm cats. He neatly cleaned the trout, readying them for Grandma’s freezer, and we returned home to Grandma.
I haven’t been fishing again since that day, long ago, when Grandpa and Uncle Ken took my younger brother and I to their favorite fishing pond. My dominating memory of the day is that fishing is very boring, but I also remember the lessons that Grandpa taught and the time that he took to spend with his granddaughter.
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