From the Pen of Louie Bond
Growing up in suburban Dallas, I didn’t have a lot of fishing and hunting opportunities as a kid, even though my Dad had grown up reveling in all those wild pleasures. He was too busy supporting his growing family to have much free time, and Mom was a lot more focused on smoothing out my rough edges and transforming me into a well-mannered lady than encouraging my wild side. Let’s face it, she just didn’t appreciate how hard I worked to push all that dirt under my nails and blow all those tangles into my rebellious curls. By the time I had grown to his waist, my Dad had put up his fishing pole and tackle box for good.
But not before we created one lovely memory, although it’s blurred by the passage of time. I was not yet in school, and Dad had an unexpected day off. The clearest object I see when I try to sharpen the image in my mind is Dad’s old tackle box. My chubby hands reached out to grab the painted “toys” I saw until Dad showed me the hooks and barbs attached.
I remember my fascination with the strange objects in their little compartments and the tools and spools of wire. I think we must have bought worms somewhere, because I’m sure I would have been head-over-heels happy to have dug them up but didn’t get the chance.
We headed out to White Rock Lake with a picnic and our meager fishing gear. Instead of driving past the lake as we did nearly every day, to my wonder, we stopped and walked toward it. The wind was blowing sailboats across the lake, and I was thrilled to feel that same wind on my face. I do know the sandwich was more delicious than the identical one I’d eaten the day before.
I definitely remember catching a fish, though perhaps it was on the line when Dad handed me the pole — a pretty little crappie, just like those out on Caddo Lake in last month’s feature. I didn’t get to sample it (Mom: “Don’t bring anything alive home!”) so I missed the lessons he could have taught me with that process of cleaning and eating, the lessons he learned from his own childhood on a lake.
Today, many dads (and moms) are so busy running on the hamster wheel of life that they can’t find time to take a day off at the lake or creek. Maybe they wonder if they can handle putting together enough gear to pull it off, or where they can fish without a license or with any hope of success. We hope that this month’s “First Catch” recollections (Page 48) will kindle a fire in each and every “grownup” heart out there, inspiring people to take kids out fishing.
Here are some of the many benefits (besides a tasty dinner): builds confidence, improves coordination, provides lessons about conservation, teaches perseverance and patience, increases independence, promotes family bonding, encourages appreciation of nature, encourages a healthy lifestyle, offers an opportunity to turn off technology and so much more.
Here at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, we want to make your family fun easy to accomplish, so we stock 18 neighborhood sites in city and county parks with fish big enough to catch and eat. Kids 16 and under fish free (no license required). We also offer lots of great information on how to get started at www.neighborhoodfishin.org. When you see that first big smile of success, you’ll be creating a memory that lasts a lifetime.