I Don't Do Worms!
I never have been fond of worms. They say that childhood phobias sometimes carry over into adulthood. Thus, was my case. When I was a child, I knocked over a bucket of bloodworms that spewed down a hill side. My father, trying to teach me to be "tough," made me pick up each and every worm and put them back in the bucket. By the time I was done, I had more tears in the bucket than worms!
So, you can see my dilemma when my son, who was eight at the time, asked me to take him fishing. We had got our hopes up after visiting a nearby lake, which was loaded with big carp, bluegills, sunnies and some pretty good-sized striped bass that lurked at the water's edge.
That same evening, I rushed out and got my fishing license at Wal-Mart--even threw in a trout stamp to be more impressive. I figured, what the hey, never fished for trout before, but I can wear a pair of "waders" as well as anyone.
As a single parent, I had to wear many hats, including fisherman. There's just one problem--I don't do worms. Don't even remotely like the idea of "worm breath" in my refrigerator. That plastic bloodworm container sitting on the shelf makes me feel like all the food in the frig has been contaminated.
It's the little holes punched out in the side; They look like an escape route. I know it's a psychological thing. The solution: Insert two coins into a soda machine and out pops a container of nightcrawlers. Now what's that all about?
I didn't want to come across as the stereotypical "squeamis mom." After all, I will pick up slithery snakes, ugly opossums, and the like--just not those slimy little invertebrates called "worms." Besides, how do you know which end is up? And if you think I've got problems--worms are "hermaphroditic." That means that each worm is both male and female. There's something definitely wrong with this picture.
Off to the Lake!
OK, so much for worms. After some coaxing, I finally convinced my son that corn, cheese, bread, bacon or whatever else we could find in the frig made excellent bait. He had utmost confidence in my abilities, at least for the moment. Give him another year or two.
The next challenge came when I attempted to put the rods in my compact car, only to find that they were longer than the back seat or in the way of the gear shift. Ended up rolling down the window and just letting them hang out.
At the lake, we discovered the hook had snagged something about five miles back. Never did find the end of the line.
Please understand that my son was determined to catch a fish. He had lugged four tackle boxes filled with lures; two in his backpack, one underneath his armpit, one in his left hand, all the while attempting to juggle the rod with the right.
We set up camp for the day, lawn chairs and all, and had lures and tackle boxes spread from the north end of the bank to the south end of the shore. Before leaving the house, I had envisioned a little R & R, but it seemed that every five minutes I was changing lures, baiting hooks or untangling lines.
In between, I was trying to figure out exactly where to tie off the sinker, or how high I should place the bobber. I must have tried every possible combination. Threw in a couple of Girl Scout knots, and of course, the old slip knot.
The bluegills bit pretty good on the corn, the cheese and the bread got soggy and fell off the hook. Got one bite on the bacon. I don't know what went for it. Maybe a crayfish, for all I know.
Growing up on the Chesapeake, I was experienced at catching saltwater fish. Caught my first bluefish off the back of a sailboat. But these freshwater fish were a different breed. They were sneaky. Showed themselves one day, then disappeared the next. Must have been spoked by the wind as it rippled across the water. I figured they were probably camped out under some nearby log.
After several hours of frustration, we packed it up and headed home. (Found out later that you're not supposed to bait lures).
Hope you weren't watching Izaak Walton.
First published in the Gettysburg Times in 2001.