A fisherman's tale: two trout won, one sneaker lost

SATURDAY'S HERO

September 03, 1994|By ROB KASPER

When you are fishing with kids, the action is not confined to pulling creatures from the water. Other sources of excitement are what happens on the shore, and what ends up landing in the water. Clothing, fishing poles and even the fishermen have been known to take the accidental plunge.

And so this week, after my 9-year-old son had spent an afternoon "fishing" with two buddies in a shallow stretch of Beaverdam Run off Falls Road in Baltimore County, it did not surprise me that one of his sneakers was missing. When I picked my son up at the end of the day, I figured the shoe had either floated downstream or had been swallowed up by that voracious consumer of small-fishermen footwear, creek mud.

But I was surprised to learn that the sneaker, along with one of his fishing buddies, had gone to a doctor's office.

Somehow my son had managed to get his sneaker snared by a hook. One of his buddies, Garrett, had tried to free the hook from the sneaker. But as the hook was being extracted, the third fishing buddy, Jeff, accidentally bumped into Garrett, and the hook, barb and all, sank deep into Garrett's finger.

Garrett's mom ended up taking him, with a hook and my son's sneaker attached to his finger, to a nearby doctor's office. There the hook was removed, both from the finger and the shoe. Little permanent damage was done, with the possible exception of damage to the psyche of Garrett's mom.

By the time I arrived on the scene, the two remaining members of the fishing party, Jeff and my son, had taken up residence at Jeff's house. Because one of my son's black sneakers was on medical leave, he was wearing a white one Garrett had given him before going off to see the doctor. My son was unconcerned about his mismatched footwear. He and his buddy Jeff, their shoes still soggy with creek water, their skins glistening in the light of a summer evening, were happily riding bikes.

It had been, my son said during the car ride home, a very good day. He explained that before all the trouble with the hook, Garrett had caught two trout. The creek was so small, and the quarters were so tight, that no fishing poles were used, my son explained. Instead Garrett, the angler intimately familiar with this stretch of water, used a hand line, baited with a worm. When Garrett landed the fish, the entire fishing party celebrated.

A good catch causes most fishermen to forget accompanying adversities. I had found this out earlier in the summer when my son and I went fishing in the tidal waters of Chincoteague, Va.

During a week of fishing expeditions, several plastic bobbers were smashed, uncounted weights and hooks were lost. Sandals regularly floated away or got stuck as my son waded into the muddy bottom. Crabs nipped our toes, green-headed flies tried to bite us. In the middle of our stay, a severe ear infection confined my son to the house for several days.

Yet the kid wanted to go fishing every day. He was gung-ho because on our first day of fishing, we had good luck. We caught several flounder, a croaker and two silver fish, which I called fish-to-be-named later, but subsequently learned were probably white perch. We also fed dozens of crabs, who regularly tried -- and often succeeded -- in stealing our bait. The big, first-day haul whetted my son's appetite for fishing. He was convinced that every day would yield a catch as big as or bigger than the first day.

That was not the case. We peaked on our first day. But we kept trying. Most of our fishing was done from the shore. But once we rented a small boat, motored out into deeper waters of Chincoteague Bay, and caught a few croaker.

We did not limit our catch to fish. We also hauled in loot. I caught some fishing line that had been snagged on the bottom. I was able to salvage a weight and some line from the rig. On our final outing, we landed what I considered to be the catch of the season -- a new minnow bucket.

The apparatus, used to keep baitfish alive, had washed ashore. My best guess was that the bucket had fallen off a boat a few days earlier. I also would bet that the boat was probably manned by a father-son fishing team not unlike my son and me.

We tossed out the remaining minnows -- some dead, some alive -- and claimed the bucket as ours. That is the way it works in the world of casual fishermen. The water giveth and the water taketh away.

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