Ryan Trares: Fishing for a new hobby

This felt like a major father-son moment.

We stood on the banks of the pond behind our house on a beautiful sunny afternoon. The water was calm, a slight breeze rippling across the surface.

Anthony cocked his new Nerf-themed fishing pole backward. He held the release button on the reel like I had shown him, and with intense concentration, flung it forward.

The weighted hook, bait and bobber on the end of the line arced in the air, landing with a “plop” about 20 feet out in the water. He had done it — Anthony was fishing.

I realize for the countless fishing enthusiasts out there, this seems rather mundane. But for us, it was a big deal.

Anthony had been asking me for a fishing pole for about a year, ever since a visit with his grandpa — my dad. My dad loves to fish, whether cruising out on Lake Erie or throwing a line off the dock or, since joining a trout club, fly-fishing in the crystal clear waters of the stream that winds through the grounds.

Dad always took time to teach us kids the basics of the sport, from baiting the hook to casting to watching for the bobber to dip and disappear, and how to bring your catch in. I have fond memories of fishing trips in Ontario, northern Michigan, and on Lake George in northern Indiana, where we used to have a cabin.

Though I liked it well enough, I never had the patience to seriously get into fishing. My indifference rubbed off on Anthony, and he showed no interest in it for much of his young life.

But as he walked around the trout stream with his grandpa, pointing out the shadowy fish darting through the water, I had the sense that he might be hooked. And sure enough, on the drive home, he asked to get his own fishing pole.

I said we would, but lost track of the request. Anthony didn’t press the point either, though he’d bring it up now and then, usually whenever we passed a big lake or drove over a river.

Finally, last weekend, the opportunity presented itself to get Anthony his gear. A wide-open Sunday, with beautiful weather to go with it, proved a perfect time to stop by the nearby sporting goods store. He found the multi-colored rod and reel, perfectly sized for a 7-year-old, and proudly carried it to the checkout desk.

As it was designed for kids, the set had a weighted sink you could use to practice — getting a feel for the motion of the line without worrying about a hook flailing around. We went straight for the backyard and got to work. I showed Anthony how to hold the rod, how to release the cast and how to slowly bring it back in.

He did it about a dozen times, until I was comfortable with his progress and he was clamoring to catch a “real fish.” The next day, I attached a hook and bobber, gave him some bait, and let him try.

We stayed outside for about 30 minutes, casting out and slowly reeling in. That was the extent of the action.

There was no whopper catch to show off; Anthony didn’t get any nibbles. I explained sometimes the fish just aren’t biting, as any fisherman will tell you.

Still, he didn’t seem bothered. Sitting in the sun watching the water intently, he was content just to be outdoors. And I was happy to be standing there next to him.

When we finally went inside and his mom came home, he gave an honest account of what happened, explaining that he didn’t catch anything.

So that leads to our next lesson. If he’s going to be a real fisherman, he’s going to have to learn to embellish a little bit about the “one who got away.”

Ryan Trares is a senior reporter and columnist for the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.