A Good Day On The Water

On The Shoulders Of Giants With Andrew Curtis.

Andrew Curtis | September 7, 2023

Sometimes taking the kids fishing is not all about the catching.

Typically, when I go fishing, I like to catch fish.

That day, my better judgement was trying to convince me to choose another activity. All the cows were lying down. The wind was whipping. A storm was rapidly approaching. The water in the pond was cold and overflowing from recent heavy rains. And there would be five people in a 10-foot jon boat without a motor. Let’s just say that I was not very optimistic about our fishing expectations. But I had made a promise to go fishing.

When we got to the pond and flipped the boat over to load our tackle in, the three young boys began catching roly polies to put in a jar. Next, they grabbed their little nets and splashed around attempting to scoop some minnows. They were already having a blast.

Three little boys, my friend, and I hopped into the small boat to discover a mouse that crept out from under a seat to investigate the noise. My son, Grayson, quickly nabbed the tiny critter in his net. The mouse immediately jumped out of the net and scurried under a seat again which entertained the boys immensely.

I shoved off, paddling against the strong wind AND against the boys who were paddling in the opposite direction from my strokes. I did mention that there were five people in a 10-foot jonboat, right? Between the paddles waving around, the splashing water, the wind whipping, and several fishing lines out, my friend and I spent more time untangling lines than anything else… except when we were blown into a wasp nest. Then we were fighting desperately to get away from the angry swarm. Thunder in the distance grew louder and louder. Lines were still tangled every which a way. The wind picked up into gusts that nearly blew us back to the other end of the pond, right back toward the angry wasps. But the boys saw no danger… only adventure.

At one point, exhausted from all the paddling, I looked at the kids. All three boys were laughing, splashing, casting, reeling, tangling lines, just having a ball. I had given up on the idea of catching any fish that day, but it didn’t seem to matter to the kids. All they wanted was to be out on the water with their daddies, just enjoying the day. That’s a lesson to make a grown-up stop and think a little bit: seeing life through the eyes of a child again. We’ve all been there, and yet, we tend to forget as we age; we forget what life is all about.

I love to send my friends pictures of “successful” hunting and fishing trips, of the animals I have killed and of the fish I have caught, but that day I would have none of those. What I would have is pictures of three little boys in a boat, just enjoying the moments around them. They weren’t worried about tomorrow or, for that matter, even the next hour.

When we pulled the boat back onto land, we had nothing tangible to show for our efforts, but the boys talked as if it had been the best fishing trip of their lives. Perhaps it was, merely for the fact that it was their next one, with people they love.

We are all busy in life, but that is a poor excuse not to pursue our outdoor passions and to share what we know with the next generations. I had my mentors, my giants, who took the time to take me outdoors, no matter if the fish were biting or the deer were moving. I fell in love with it all because of those people who were patient with the process, who didn’t mind untangling lines in stormy weather while swatting away angry wasps just so that I could be out doing what I loved.

To this day when I think back on all those wonderful fishing trips of my youth, many trips in which we didn’t catch a thing, I can honestly say that I don’t remember a bad day.

That night after fishing, I asked my two boys if they had fun. Nodding their heads enthusiastically, they replied excitedly, “Can we go fishing tomorrow?!”

Yep, that was a good day on the water.

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