There aren’t many things that will get me to voluntarily leave the dadcave, but fishing is one of them. Not because I think it’s a sport; I don’t. I mean, how could it be a sport? I fish for bluegill and bass, which I outweigh by about, oh, three hundred pounds. I’m also way smarter — you don’t see me eating food attached to lines leading off out of sight. And I have thumbs. Thumbs are great.
No, I enjoy fishing for other reasons. Mainly, ’cause I like all that free, fresh fish I catch. Throw it back? Only ‘cuz the law says so. Or because they’re too small to mess with cleaning. Otherwise… they’re goin’ straight in muh belly! I also enjoy fishing because it’s like a camping trip — a chance to go out into nature and enjoy some fresh air and quiet, without the overnight stay, tents, and crapping in the woods.
But there’s one main reason I now fish that I haven’t mentioned: my kids.
Kids don’t exactly see fishing in the same light we grownups do. Thinking back to when I was a kid, I liked to go because I liked catching fish. Yeah, eating them was good, but the ones at Long John Silver’s or Captain D’s were just as good (and came with fries). Kids enjoy being outside, sort of. Kids also like the adventure of spending time with their dad, grand-dad, or other family member.
But forget about all that for a moment. The reason you need to take your kids fishing is so they learn a critical life skill. People have, after all, been fishing for thousands of years. It’s a crucial survival skill I put up there with firemaking and finding your way home.
Think about it. How many people do you know that if they had to, could catch a fish, clean it and eat it? I know we live in a modern society where we can order over the phone or on-line for pizza, Chinese, or countless other foods and where we can go to the grocery to meet all our dietary needs. But what if push comes to shove and you find yourself lost, near a body of water, with only a paperclip and some dental floss in your pocket? Could you catch a fish?
You can always buy your kids fishsticks to satisfy their hunger. But if you teach them how to fish… they can feed themselves.
Not sold on the survival skills? Well, let’s go back to that whole kids-love-fishing theme. Kids do. My earliest memories are from when I was three years old and went on a fishing trip to Canada with my parents and grandparents. I can’t remember what my dearly departed Papaw’s face looked like, but I distinctly remember sitting in his lap and driving the boat (and later getting a horrible splinter in the palm of my hand on shore).
When you go fishing, you can leave a lot of the hectic details of modern life behind. Just you, your kids, some fresh air, some mosquitoes, and a nice lake or pond. But best of all, when the kids get bored or have to go potty, you grab up your gear and drive home. Hopefully with some fishies. That beats camping any day of the week!
Troglodad is a cave-dwelling dad from Indiana. You can follow him @TrogloDAD or check out his blog at troglodad.com.