A few weeks ago, I began digging through the personal archive of columns I’ve written for newspapers over the past 16 years. I was looking specifically for columns I’d written about my nephew Matt to incorporate into his graduation scrapbook.
There were stories about his first wrestling match, Saturday morning soccer games, his first pheasant hunt and his first deer hunt.
While I enjoyed the trip down memory lane, it was the columns I’d written about our fishing expeditions that I was most interested in.
It surprised me how much I’d forgotten about our little adventures. Thank goodness I had a reason to write our memories down back then — albeit for work.
In one column, I wrote about a fishing trip Matthew (I called him Buddy back then — short for My Little Fishing Buddy) and I took to Lake Ocheda’s Hawkinson bridge just south of Worthington.
He was probably three or four years old at the time and, while watching his bobber float on the water, he said to me, “Juwee, you’re teaching me how to fish aren’t you.”
“Yes Buddy, isn’t this fun?” I replied.
It was always fun when we were catching fish — and even when we were catching fish sticks (our fishing lingo for reeling in a branch, a reed or a twig).
Every year we had our own competition. The one to catch the first fish of the season had bragging rights for the whole summer. It wasn’t much to brag about considering all we ever caught were bullheads, but every spring Matthew and I would race to get our baited hook in the water first and coax a fish to take a bite.
As the years flew by, Buddy and I were joined by Jessie and then Zach. One of the columns I found was written when Zach was about three years old.
“Juwee, I wanna go hishin’ wiff you,” he’d say.
I’d forgotten about that as well, but when I read it again, I could picture little Zach standing on the deck by his back door with bare feet, pleading that I’d let him tag along.
Looking through all of those columns, I realized something. Back when I lived in Redwood County — the county with no lakes — I made a point to return to Worthington on the weekends to take the kids fishing as often as I could. Now that I live in Worthington, it seems I rarely take the time to fish.
Jessie, Zach and their little sister Katie have all been out to the lake fishing several times already this year, but instead of Auntie Juwee taking them, it’s been Grandpa. Four-year-old Katie has reeled in more fish this spring than I did in all of 2009.
Well, this Saturday marks the Minnesota fishing opener. So far, the weather forecast sounds decent, and I have nothing on my calendar (other than to finish a scrapbook, but I’m procrastinating on that). I’ve already bought my license, I have my tackle boxes and fishing rods ready to go, and I’m pretty sure I know which lake I’m going to head to first.
I just hope the fish are biting! Good luck to all you fisherpersons out there — here’s hoping you reel in a lunker.