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THE SPORTS GUY: Suffering fishing futility

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Wyoming fishing fees had been waived for the day. My daughter was now old enough to understand that the purpose behind fishing was to catch fish on the hook rather than stun them into submission by hefting either a big rock or her little brother into the water, where both make an equally satisfying splash.

My wife had ordered her father to bring all her poles and tackle boxes with him when he came out to visit last fall. The gear had been sitting patiently in the storage closet, waiting for opportunity to knock.  On fee-free day, there came a pounding at the door.

Now, I suppose this is as good a place as any to make my confession. You see, faithful reader, if there’s a glaring hole in my outdoor resume, it’s that I’ve never really been an angler.

My father was the destination sort when it came to the outdoors. You left the car at Point A, you walked to Point B and then you came back. If he was feeling really adventurous, you spent some time camping near Point B.

Catching dinner in a stream or lake near Point B, however, was never part of the equation.

In fact, my only childhood memory of fishing dates back to a summer I spent with my grandparents at their cabin in Minnesota. I can’t remember how old I was or what we went out with the intent to catch. Seared forever into my memory though is the recollection that the first thing I reeled in was a northern pike.

Faithful reader, do you have any idea how many teeth a northern pike has? Or how freaking large those teeth appear to an impressionable child?

I’m sure my grandfather looked down and saw the start to a good dinner. I, on the other hand, saw Jaws. The rest of my weekend at the lake was spent deep in prayer to the patron saint of angling futility so that no other monsters from the deep would latch upon my line. 

To be fair, there are other reaons I’ve generally avoided picking up the fine art of angling. For starters, I can swim with all the grace of a 200-pound boulder, thus water-based activities don’t rank high on my list. I also adhere to a fairly simple dining rule — if you can hold it under water for an extended period of time and it continues to live happily, I don’t eat it.

So how I came to marry a sushi-loving woman who collects fishing poles the way I stockpile college football magazines will forever be one of life’s little mysteries. Nevertheless, there we were, armed and ready to go.

We started out at kids’ fishing day at Homesteader Park. I realize that probably won’t count as fishing to the purists out there, but keep in mind I have an almost 4-year-old and a 2-year-old in tow. A self-contained concrete-lined eco-system overstocked with fish to enhance the chances my little ones got to experience the thrill of reeling something in was just what the doctor ordered.

It would be just like, well, shooting fish in a barrel. Or so I thought.

Trout, it seems, are somewhat finicky eaters. What’s more, when a couple hundred of their closest friends suddenly get snatched skyward over the course of a couple hours, it seems they also tend to become rather suspicious.

So our alloted hour was spent with my wife trying this, that and the other thing to entice a nibble while I wandered taking photos of other people catching fish. All the while, my daughter was happily casting and reeling without a care in the world.

My wife, however, took the lack of fishy interest as a personal affront. Several hours later, with the kids nestled in for a nap under grandma’s watch, I found myself once again being dragged to the outdoors.

We found a nice spot. We cast. We sat and admired the sun. We were teased with the occasional tug. We could see fish of some nature taking great interest in this Silver Spinning Thing — no, seriously, I think that’s the brand name — my wife opted to try at one point. The only thing caught, however, was a mild case of sunburn and views of a nice sunset on the drive back home.

There were no tales of the one that got away. No exaggerations to be had. My first attempt at Wyoming’s blue-ribbon fishing waters can only be described as an epic failure.

But, hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

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