Dad's old fishing pole

C

CoTransplant

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After reading this quote:

"Panic pulled me into that abyss, where your mind goes to process the fact that something terrible has happened."

I was taken back to day from about 20 years ago. This story takes place in the same small town that Robert E. Lee and DB Crouper grew up in which would be very coincidental if not for the fact that DB happens to be my dad.

I was very much a cantankerous 10-year-old, to put it mildly. The truth is my mom wouldn't let Dad leave for any extended period of time unless he took me with him; She'd gladly keep my 3 older brothers but I had proven time and time again to be too much of a handful. Often-times, Dad's weekend trips were back to his hometown to see his mother and hunt deer and elk in his familiar stomping grounds. Though the aforementioned yew bow is since long gone, the skills he developed with it are quite impressive so his bow hunting trips were frequent and successful. What this meant for me was many 6 hour round trip drives, just me and Dad. What I remember most about these trips is that there was a standing offer that if I were to spot a deer before him he would give me fifty cents, the bounty for the first elk sighting was a dollar. I believe he is undefeated to this day; As a matter of fact, we made the same drive last week and even as a 30 year old I knew I had no chance.

But back to 1990. It was evident that I was not fit to accompany Dad on a hunt due to my inability to sit still, be quiet, focus on anything, etc. Luckily for Dad, I had 2 grandmothers to split time with in town while he and his buddies went in search of big game. His mother also happened to live very close to the 12th Avenue Bridge which was built with a wide enough sidewalk to accommodate fisherman, and recreational crabbers who could throw their crab rings off the bridge and hope for the best with the incoming tides. As I look back on it today, it seems crazy to send a boy of 10 alone to a place like the 12th Avenue bridge. My boy is now 12 and I'd have my doubts about him going alone. It was a different time...

The obstacles to avoid on the bridge were plentiful to a boy my age. First, there were the crusty old men who always took over the Northeast side of the bridge and considered themselves the serious fishermen. I never saw one reel in anything other than the same bullheads I caught all day and the occasional flounder but they were still somehow superior nonetheless. I always liked getting as close as possible to these old bastards without them yelling at me. I had heard profanity before, but these guys could artistically weave a tapestry of it that I am still in awe of. But getting too close to these guys would be a terrible idea. they were from the school of thought that "It takes a village to beat a child into submission."

The cars whizzing across the bridge caused a bit of a problem for a clumsy caster such as my 10-year-old self. I distinctly remember the first bumper I hooked as I prepared to cast. Everyone within earshot heard that line screaming off my reel. A few were sure I'd hooked into a giant salmon, but no. Turned out to be a police car and I was out of fishing line for that day. The final obstacles at the bridge were sub-legal dungeness crabs. I was too young to catch crabs back then but they could sure catch me. There were always a few troublemakers there (probably offspring of Robert E Lee) who would pull up a ring full of little guys and set them loose on the sidewalk near kids like me. Where's a yew bow or an older brother (or both) when you need one?


More later...
 
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Slick

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Keep it coming Corbett. Oh, and welcome to the forum. :clap::clap::clap:
 
C

CoTransplant

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Anyhow, after I had learned to avoid (for the most part) these obstacles, it became a pretty regular thing for me to head down to the bridge for the day. Grandma would load me up with a baggie of clam necks, Exactly 4 quarters (each of which was redeemable for 1 ice cream sandwich at the 12th Avenue Grocery which tragically burned down just last month). In her garage, I had found some old fashioned basket type creels that had probably been around since Dad was my age, and possibly had been his dad’s. In retrospect, the gear in these was probably for surf fishing as the smallest weight I could find was about the size of a golf ball. But I knew better than to ask someone to buy me tackle. Even Grandma, who rarely denied me anything, would tell me that I’d just leave it somewhere and lose it. She was right. So off I would go to catch eight inch bullheads with enough gear to land a mature Alaskan salmon. But I didn’t care. I was going fishing!
The rod that I had grown fond of was actually somewhat of a hybrid which is to say that it was half an old brown rod and half an old white rod. The reel was an old spin-caster that had taken me half a day to figure out to flip the bale and keep the line pinched until the exact right moment. I am sure I had asked at some point when I could get my own (preferably monochromatic) rod and just been told that I’d surely lose it over the side of the bridge. Wise and prophetic my grandmother was. I must have been a sight as I trekked down Necanicum Drive but (and this still holds true today) I didn’t care what I looked like when I was going fishing.
It was pretty crowded on the bridge that morning as the tide was actually bringing in some keeper crabs from the sea. I shouldered my way in between a couple older kids and baited my hook (It was probably a size 10/0 to match the weight I was using) with a clam neck and (after checking for cars coming) casted that thing what I’m sure was about a mile out. After reeling in the slack, and leaning the pole on the railing, it was time to enjoy the first of 4 ice cream sandwiches of the day while staring at the tip of that old two-tone pole. Only halfway into that sandwich, the tip did the familiar “tap-tap-tap.” Knowing what it signified, I grabbed it and set the steel hard. I reeled and reeled (or so it seemed). The thing is when you fish with that kind of weight, you never really know if that 6 oz bullhead is there until you see it. Sure enough, there was a fish on and I got him almost up to the bridge when IT happened.
Something brushed the back of my ankle. It was probably a bug but of course my initial thought was that it was yet another sub-legal crab hell-bent on pinching my exposed flesh. In my panic, I let go of the rod. To this day I remember watching it fall, seemingly in ultra slow motion, straight to the surface where it splashed down and out of sight. And right then is when "Panic pulled me into that abyss, where your mind goes to process the fact that something terrible has happened."
Remember, I was 10 years old and all I knew was that I had just lost Dad’s pole over the rail of the bridge. Life is fairly devoid of stress at that age, and this was quite possibly the worst thing I had ever done (except maybe for when Aaron and I “painted” our cardboard clubhouse with gasoline but that was mostly Aaron).
I ran home to tell Grandma what had happened, hoping for the consolation that only she could give. When she chuckled as I recounted the story and mentioned that it was an old pole and that Dad wouldn’t be mad, I just couldn’t believe her. I really wanted to, but I just couldn’t. I died a thousand deaths that day as I sat in the front yard; my anxiety building with every vehicle that turned down Franklin St. I feared it would be Dad while at the same time praying that it would be Dad so I could get this horrible load off of my shoulders. After what seemed like hours (and actually probably was), his pickup came around the corner.
 
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C

CoTransplant

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The ball in my throat grew to a size even bigger than the weight I had been casting what seemed like an eternity before but had actually been earlier that day. I immediately burst into tears before I could begin my well rehearsed confession. Before I had the chance Dad asked (and I’ll NEVER forget this)
“Why is my crappy old pole still at the bridge? What’s wrong son?”
I told him that it couldn’t be because I had dropped it in the river. The sudden shock of what he was saying had drawn me out of my severely emotional state and I was merely confused. He told me that he would recognized that 2 piece pole anywhere and it was definitely his as I hopped in the pickup and we made the 2 minute drive to the bridge. It seemed nothing short of miraculous when I saw that old rod leaning against the railing right where I had been fishing. The same older boy who had been there when I dropped the pole looked at me and said “I fished up your pole.” I remember feeling bad that in the moment when I dropped it, I had assumed that he was the one who released the imaginary crab that I thought was about to pinch me.
“Thanks.” Was all I could think of to say, and then I thought to give him the three quarters that I hadn’t spent on ice cream sandwiches that day. As we rode back to grandma’s house that afternoon, I remember thinking that of all the fishing stories I would ever tell, none would be less believable than someone “fishing up” dad’s old pole. Even the completely fabricated ones. Before I could finish that thought, dad interrupted it by saying:
“Maybe it’s time we get you your own little tackle box and fishing rig.”
 
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lilsalmon

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Wow.....another great story....and told by the son of a great storyteller....you guys need to get together and write that book.....And I want a signed copy. Good job and great story CoTransplant.

oh and welcome to the forum
 
C

CoTransplant

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Thank you everybody for taking the time to read this. Hopefully you've been entertained. And thank you for being so welcoming!
 
O

OnTheFly

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Sometimes I'll skim read long thread stories especially the carp ones;), but I read every word of yours!

I remember the first rod my dad got me also. I was around four years old when he started me off at a 'Tom Sawyer' type trout farm where the house rods were eight foot lengths of tapered bamboo with about six feet of light mono and a hook. Once he saw that I had intrest in fishing, he bought me a small glass rod and a reel. I fished with that rod into my early twenties until I left it on the bank by mistake one day and was gone when I went back to look for it. Yes it was a cheep old glass rod with the guide threads starting to fray, but the day I lost it made me think of the man who inspired me most about fishing.
 
brandon4455

brandon4455

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awesome story and welcome to the forum. im guessing you get these story skills from your dad ? :lol:
 
C

CoTransplant

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"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child! Away! Away!"

William Shakespeare

Alright, that shows who the literary/stroyteller storyteller is. I guess I DO get it from him.
 
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