Editor's note: This column originally ran in the Peninsula Clarion Oct. 12, 2003
What started out simply, rapidly turned into a sordid fish tale complete with another woman's husband and praying to a false god.
I just wanted to learn to fish. I say learn, because what fishing I did before consisted of someone handing me a pole with a bobber on it so I didn't have to cast a lot.
Not anymore. I have bigger fish to fry.
I wanted to tie my own knots, choose my own lures and go fishing when I felt like it. What held me back?
Let's start with the tackle store. It's daunting with all those rods and reels for different types of fish and tackle in every color imaginable.
"My, gosh" I thought, "why can't fish be color blind?"
All I wanted to do was put a stick in the water and catch dinner.
If you are not completely intimidated the moment you walk in the store, there is the moment of truth when you open your mouth and say, "Excuse me, what type of thing-a-ma-jig would work best?"
My chance to learn came when a family friend asked me fishing. I will now refer to him as the "other man."
Since sportfishing gear was scarce around our house, I decided to go to a garage sale. For $15, I got a reel and an old rod.
That was the easy part. Now I had to find out how to put line on it correctly, not to mention figure out the regulations.
The regs alone are enough to make a person never take up fishing: "Take one hook the size of a speck of dirt, no barb (didn't someone tell those people that is were the term 'hook' comes from?); wear a blindfold, reel with your toes and if you are 40 degrees west, by 60 degrees northeast, then throw it back in."
I decided to ask my "getting started" questions over the phone, so if I had to meet anyone later they wouldn't know who I was. After being called "honey," spoken to like I was 2 and reaching clerks who knew as little as I did, I started to get discouraged.
I called one more place, Ken's Alaskan Tackle. A pleasant woman answered the phone, assured me that no question was stupid and that someone would be happy to look over my gear since I was to leave early the next morning with the "other man."
I arrived to find the owner at the counter. After my previous experiences, I did not want to talk to a man, but it turned out to be a good conversation.
He listened, spoke straightforward and right away asked me what I paid for the rod. When I told him, he just laughed.
It seems the "old" rod is a Lamiglas, and for $15 I have $180 worth of fishing gear that my brother covets.
He then took me out to the parking lot where he taught me how to cast correctly, not flinging it over my shoulder like, well, a girl, and how to use a level-wind reel.
He explained a few basics, gave me encouragement and told me not to worry about everything at once, that the rest would come as I learned about what I preferred and more about the rivers I wanted to fish.
I think I caught every log in the Russian River on my first day out, but it was wonderful to stand there and practice. Sometimes I just changed the rigging because I could.
It was at the Anchor River that I caught my very own, first fish and was called a hussy all in the same day.
The excitement of hooking into the silver was overwhelming; fighting it, praying I wouldn't lose it and praying even harder its lips (do fish have lips?) were firmly locked around the lure. It was a 9-pounder, but it had a lot of fight and landing it was fabulous.
I sat down to just take in the whole experience and savor it. Had I known it was the only fish I would catch for the next two weeks, I would have contemplated it much longer.
Am I hooked?
When I first started it was, "I have the day off, I will go fishing." Then it was, "I have the afternoon off, I'll go fishing." Now it is, "I have an hour free, I'll go fishing."
I keep my gear in my car, I found a lure in my purse when I cleaned it out, and when I have down time I practice how to tie an egg loop.
Has it been worth losing my reputation, getting a permanent blister on my thumb and having to have a hook removed from my tushy?
Yes! My sense of accomplishment is powerful.
Yet, I find the best part is the weekends that I have spent with my boys, teaching them and making memories.
While not practice casting in her front yard, Nancianna Misner is the editorial assistant at the Peninsula Clarion.
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