Today proved to be another hard day of work. When I got a break, I focused on trying to locate a park I visited a few years ago with a nephew. I wish to take a friend fishing at that park on Saturday, but I am not certain of the park's name. I remember it had a panoramic view of the City of Dallas in the distance--gleaming towers in the New International Style, which is no longer new but perhaps qualifies as international. It had really neat large red-shale-looking rocks on which one could sit. It was out by DFW airport, on what I believe to be Grapevine Lake. But when I went to the internet to find the parks on Grapevine Lake, none of the parks "sounds" quite like the right one. I wish I could remember its name--or find the entry in this journal in which we visited that lake.
The fruitless search reminded me of an incident in my boyhood. My family had a cute little cabin on White Oak Lake, roughly twenty miles from where I grew up. White Oak Lake is one of those man-made lakes with stumps and staubs scattered through it, providing cover for fish, and in particular for bass and crappie.
Our family had one of those large pontoon boats called a "party barge", which stood moored in the shallow water around a tiny point of this lake. On the day I remember, I was fishing on that barge. Back on the little wooden fishing pier, two boys three years or so older than my age began to do what boys often do--disparage the efforts of the younger kid. It's part of the rite of passage of boyhood.
The fellow who spoke looked askance at my choice to fish from the grounded party barge. He assured me that he had been fishing for six years (he must have been roughly twelve). He confidently assured me that I would never catch anything from that barge except perhaps a snake.
I do not recall catching anything that day, other than the sensation of burnt ears. I do recall, though, a year or two later, when I was fishing that same party barge. Suddenly, I had hooked and landed a rather pleasant-sized bass. Then, within moments, I landed a second bass. I felt that kind of "I told you so" that one feels when one has caught prized fish from a fishing spot that one was assured was a dry, snake-attracting dead end. Sadly, I never saw those boys again--and they never knew I caught those fish. I knew,though, and it helped me adjust my world view, just a bit.
My great uncle who was the best fisherman I have ever known passed away recently. He could catch fish of almost any sort using a piece of tar-like material as an unlikely artificial lure. He knew how to play the lure and the line just right, so that the fish would bite. When I remember the fishing ponds my grandfather
owned when I was a kid, I remember the fish less than the sight of the bobber pulling under, and the smell of anise oil we sometimes put on a beetle spin artificial lure as a fish attractant. I remember that perhaps the bestand long-lasting Christmas gift I ever got was a tiny green tackle box which we all but ignored in favor of splashy, larger toys, as to which splashy toys we played for but a day. I wish I had that tackle box still, though since I have had larger boxes and been fishing on many a lake and ocean.
Where I come from, people fish--it's not a show of great sporting skill, in the way of fly fishing on a remote stream. It's just a skill lots of people tend to grow up acquiring, and people tend to fish because it is part of who they are and where they originate. I am not a profoundly good fisherman, though I notice lately when I take an inexperienced friend out to the lake, I am more adept at catching fish--for the moment. Although fishing has given me a few stereotypic "exciting catch" moments, like the gleam of the moonlight off the shiny scales of a large jacksmelt caught near eleven p.m. at tiny Chace Park in the Marina del Rey, most of my memories are about patience, and outdoor scenery, and sights and sounds.
Saturday I hope a find a pleasant lake, where, in a warm and uncrowded setting, I can make a casual assortment of chance associations that I'll one day call a memory. It's not important that I catch a lunker--though it is nice not to catch a water mocassin snake. I'll settle for a patient moment, and
a little quiet reflection, and perhaps the gentle pull of something nibbling, just a bit, on ten pound test line.