Let me make a confession right now. I am a pond fisherman and proud of it. Now please understand, I am not knocking lake fishermen. As a matter of fact, I kind of admire them, their equipment, technology and skill. The fact remains, however, that I am a pond fisherman through and through. I don’t have the $20,000 bass boat with the 200-horse power motor, depth finder, GPS system, underwater maps, color selector and array of scented sprays to put on my lures.
Even though I don’t have all that, I am the proud owner of a pair of hip boots and a two-man bass boat that I haul in the bed of my pickup. I also have a 17-foot canoe that I got for my 16th birthday. That would make my canoe 34 years old. (Yeah, for all you mathematicians out there, that’s right, I am 50 now).
The most important item that I possess in relation to the outdoors is not my little two-man boat or canoe. It is the wealth of memories and experiences that I have compiled over the years.
I want to thank all of the men and women that have allowed me to fish in their ponds over the five decades of my life. Even pond fishing is becoming a rich man’s game. More and more people or groups of people with money lease the hunting and fishing rights to a farmers land. Sometimes, this leaves the little guys like me on the outside of the fence looking in.
The following story tells you what is so right about old-fashioned, simple pond fishing.
THE TRIP TO THE POND
I have relatives in from Louisville this week. Many Trigg County residents knew my uncle, Early Perry Jr. Uncle Early passed away about a month ago. Early’s grandson, Jeff Quinland, and his wife Kim are spending a few nights at Lake Barkley Lodge this week. With them are their children – Savanah, age 13 (yes, this is the way they spell Savanah), Trey, 8, and Ella, 3.
The kids and their dad were interested in going fishing. Kim was not quite as excited, but she was good sport and served as the trip photographer.
Let’s set the scene. I made a quick call to a local farmer and arranged for us to go to a pond with a clean bank, easy for the kids to walk around. Graciously, the farm owner gave us permission.
You have to understand that this is a big deal for children from Louisville. Outdoor opportunities that we have here are nearly non-existent in Jefferson County. Therefore, the kids had never been fishing before. Their dad, Jeff, had done some fishing years ago, but not much lately due to work and family commitments.
Jeff and I fixed Savanah and Trey up to fish for bluegill. Each of them took quickly to putting their worms on the hook and learning how to cast. (For the record, Mom Kim wasn’t any help when it came to the worms.)
As they began to fish, I took Jeff out in the pond in my two-man boat. We made one loop around the large pond and didn’t even get a bite. Strangely, I did not even care about my success or lack of. All I could focus on was Savanah and Trey and their relentless efforts back on the bank. At one point, Savanah hung a bluegill and got it up to the bank before it got off at the last minute. Trey then hung a giant one – a giant tree, that is. As he took his rod back to cast, he hung his hook in the branches of an oak tree.
They were trying so hard that Jeff and I abandoned our fishing and went to the bank to help them. Jeff managed to get Trey out of the tree and then proceeded to help him catch and release four bluegill.
I was Savanah’s helper. One thing I can almost always do in life is catch fish out of a pond. I tried everything – including giving my night crawler a pep talk – but still could not catch anything. Not even one fish.
As I started to gather up water bottles and gear, I heard a shout. I looked around and Savanah was pulling in a big bluegill. After a photo shoot of the bluegill, it was released unharmed. Also, Trey managed to catch the world’s smallest frog and put it in a bottle. There is now pictorial documentation of the frog also. For all of the PETA members out there, it was released to hop again.
The moral of the story is this: None of this would have been possible without the graciousness and unselfishness of the landowner. I don’t have to mention your name, you know who you are.
This story of thanks goes not only for this landowner but all those that share their land.
I will close with a quote from young Trey that will make your heart warm. Trey and I were walking back to my old truck with our fishing poles slung over our shoulders. It looked like a scene from the Andy Griffith show. Out of the clear blue he said, “Mr. Mike, you know what?” I replied, “No, what, Trey?” He said, “We didn’t catch many fish, but I had a great time and THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS!”
Truer words have never been spoken!
OT: Take a child fishing and you will receive a blessing.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.