Throughout my childhood I can remember family vacations to Breezy Point Resort… we would load up in the car and make the trip. Never did we experience a vacation like the Griswold’s; however, we still had our moments. I know that we stopped in Royalton, MN at Treasure City, I think every parent was forced to based on the screams of excitement that would come the minute a youngster caught a glimpse of the gaudy array of crap. Walking through the aisles of junk was more than most kids could stand; however, the sign “You Break It, You Buy It” was always prevalent at every turn. Returning back to Treasure City as an adult.. the aisles were narrowed or perhaps I had expanded. (this is NOT me in the picture)
My brother always had to have one of those glasses that looked like it had wine in it, despite the fact that it would break every year. No, not before it was purchased.. the sign in our car should have said: “Dad bought it, Aaron broke it.” Dark red liquid would always hit the inside of our car.
I preferred the white grab bags.. many a time I tried to sneak an adult one, but, one of my parents would typically catch it. What could be in the adult ones I wondered? What was so special about those? Well, if truth be told.. I have found myself back at Treasure City as an adult and I did buy one of those ‘Adult Grab Bags’ and found myself the proud owner of a bullet shaped nose hair trimmer. I think I would have found a use for this when I was younger; however, at 41, I had no desire to even have the thing in my truck. It’s funny how you ‘think’ you want something only to find out (sometimes years later) that it really wasn’t that big of a to-do after all.
I still love to fish today; however, I am reflecting back on the reason or reasons why. I know that I do not have to have a reason, yet, I actually have several. I love to fish because it’s peaceful, it allows me to be alone with my thoughts, just me and the line in the water. I can recall various memorable moments in my life where fish were involved… one of them was when I caught the biggest fish I had ever seen a Carp out of the Minnesota River.. at my Grandfather’s farm.
I was so excited and I drug that poor fish across the grass until I reached my Grandpa just to show him how big Carl was. Yes, I named him; Carl the Carp. Well, my excitement overruled my kindness to animals gene …Carl was dead. I now know that Carp are not necessarily the delicacy of the world (for most) and since I do not eat fish from any lake or river in Minnesota… Carl’s untimely death was directly related to excitement rather than sense.
Now, Grandpa was going to have to smoke this fish. I sat intently as he went to the house.. I looked at that huge monster fish with all of the pride in the world… It truth, I bet it was 5 lbs or less; however, when all you’ve caught is Sunfish, a 5 lb Carp is huge! Grandpa returned … I was so mesmerized by the size of this whale that I did not pay attention to what he was doing. He took the line out of Carl’s mouth and then before I could really hone in on what Grandpa was doing I saw the blade of a knife cut Carl’s head clean off.. the first hints of blood freaked me out and I ran into the house screaming, “Grandpa killed, Carl.. I hate him!” My Mother had no idea what was going on; however, her daughter was losing it and screaming, crying and having a fit… she went outside to see what had gone on.
I had chosen not to remember that Carl was dead after being without air and drug through the grass by me… I also was so shocked by it all.. that I had no part of Carl to eat.. in fact, I am not sure if Carl was smoked or not.. or if perhaps he was just food for other fish. In other words, I chose and was allowed to be removed from the situation I had inevitably caused. I am happy to report that this is not my demeanor today.
I did not forgive my Grandfather for an entire week. Looking back.. I would’ve have smacked me. Here he was doing what he thought was best and I decided to punish him for being practical. It’s funny how you can remember things.. how you acted and how you should have and how someone else put up with your antics.. out of love and probably understanding.
For a while I did not fish much at all. I am sure I was doing other things, yet, I know that for years, I did not fish. I met someone whowas an avid fisherman and fishing was like a lost love that had returned to me. I had a great deal of fun out on Lake Vermilion and I truly enjoyed what had been missing for so many years.. the serenity of just me and the line in the water. The end of our relationship also ended my time out on the lake… at that time, I spent more time wishing we were still together. It was inevitable that we were no longer a couple; however, I had hoped that he would have straightened up just a tad… not for me, but for himself.
Shortly after our break-up.. I received news that my Father had collapsed with little to no positive outcome expected. I was devastated as I had little information to go on and I was so very far away. I will not say that a song came on the radio at that instant… or if perhaps I was recalling the line from a Tim McGraw song; however, I simply just remember hearing the song clear as day in my mind.. and line is…
And all of a sudden going fishin’ Wasn’t such an imposition. And I went three times that year I lost my Dad…
Then I picked it up again..and that had to do with 2 very important things…1. The miraculous recovery of my Father & 2. The words from that Tim McGraw song. I was not going to take a moment with him for granted, not another moment.. in fact, I was not going to take a moment with anyone for granted. I have no right to do so and in truth neither does anyone else.
When I am in Canada I am surrounded by family that I typically do not see often and in truth did not necessarily know (well).. time up there is not only beautiful, but it allows me to spend time with people who had very critical parts in my life. My Aunt J is just one of them…. she would always talk with me when I was younger; however, she never treated my like a kid… we would talk for hours as she would smoke her cigarettes. To this day, My Aunt J is one of the coolest women I know… I also have had an opportunity to talk with my other Aunt J… she was always kind to me when I was younger; however, I never truly got to know her until we had spent time around the dining table at the lodge… Unfortunately, I also got to know my other Aunt J when my Uncle was going through Cancer treatments… I can happily report that he is all better.
There are so many beautiful things about Canada.. the air is clear.. the sky is blue and the Eagles (to the left is my Eagle, Sally) are plentiful; however, for me, Canada represents a place in which I have been able to truly get close to people I have loved all my life and yet did not get to know until I started going up there.
I bring my camera whenever I step into the boat and despite my numerous rods… the camera is actually more important at this time. I am able to capture moments of my Dad and his 2 brothers as they take the lead.. while my Cousin J drives me around. It’s funny to overhear parts of their conversations and it is also nice to be far enough away from their boat.. to just hear the laughter without knowing whatever they’re talking about. Without being morbid, someday the picture will not be the same… I make no assumptions on how long anyone has; however, in truth, we are all living just for the moment that we are experiencing at that moment and not a minute more…
Fishing is such a powerful thing… you never have to be good and if you’re going fishing for the right reasons, you never have to catch anything either. Fishing is a lot more than worms or leeches… it’s time with nature… learning patience… technique, enjoying those that are around or being all by yourself… it’s sometimes a challenge or a reminder that you should have put a leader on before trying to catch a Northern.. it’s about being creative with your knots and knowing when to put the net down in the water and when to wait and that you should NEVER grab the line with your hand… it’s a time in which sons or daughters can learn from their Mother or Father. I still see a lot of people out on the water; however, I know that not every kid has been taken down to the docks for just a taste of this wonderful sport. This I find very disappointing. Whether you like to fish or not, I think it’s critical that if you have any influence over a youngster that you take the time to show them the beauty of a relatively simple sport.
Watching the blood drip down Carl’s face was one of the most horrific scenes I have ever witnessed and yet in the same breath watching my Father and 2 Uncles fish is one of the most endearing memories. Fishing contains a culmination of various moments in my life, where the one constant was rod & reel. I will fish until the day I die… I will do what I can to share my passion with others and in truth I hope that everyone has had at least one trip out to a pier, the dock or the riverbank. It’s no so much about bait & tackle as it is about life’s lessons.
I’ve been able to align more of life’s lessons with things I’ve learned through fishing.. than any other sport or experience. If it were up to me, it would be a part of a child’s education because I think it has that many lessons contained.. patience, kindness, responsibility, respect, safety, caution, danger, survival and many more…