And Release | 31 Days of Growing Up

One summer a friend of my dad's generously gifted us the use of his pontoon boat, anytime we wanted. And so, many evenings and weekends found us loading up the van with fishing poles, life jackets and beach towels, and sometimes a picnic. We drove through town to the lake, parked on the edge of the road along the shore, and hauled everything out onto the dock and in the boat. We untied the ropes as dad started the motor and backed away from the beach, and then we cruised around the lake until we settled on a spot to drop anchor. My dad's old, military green tackle box supplied us with sinkers and red and white bobbers, and an assortment of plastic bait if we weren't using live worms (or worm halves). We baited our hooks and fanned out along the sides of the pontoon boat, casting our lines into the murky water. Generally we caught sunfish, and at times small mouth bass. We'd reel them in, now and then hold them up for a picture, pull out the hook as carefully as we could (unless they had swallowed it, and all we could do was cut the line), and release them back into the lake. Some days we had record counts, others we didn't catch anything. And some days we just anchored in the middle of the lake and went swimming, with the jet skis and speed boats going in circles around us.

It was an entertaining and fun learning experience being fishermen, and boaters, that summer. Fishing is one of the few things in life that is peaceful even though it's fairly aimless, and we were happy and content patiently waiting for a bite, with the sun warm on our faces and bare feet.

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