Seventeen fish is enough

Published 8:47 am Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Becoming an angler is not age-dependent. You can catch your first fish at age two or 92 and be excited by the vibrations and tugging of the fishing line connecting you to the fish. Some anglers have a desire to catch a few fish and enjoy the day. Other anglers are not satisfied until they have caught all the fish. Sometimes, in my experience, these two people marry each other. 

I love fishing. Understanding fish behavior and using that knowledge to trick a few fish puts a smile on my face whether the weather is 70 degrees and sunny or 30 and raining. Being able to have my finger on the pulse of nature in a mountain stream or a neighborhood pond is a gift of which many do not take advantage. 

While I love fishing, I reach a certain stage on a day when the bites come quickly where I have had enough. I’m not bored. I’m not being a snob. There just comes a point in my preferences where fighting a fish gets in the way of enjoying the view. 

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My daughter takes after me in this respect. After catching a few fish on Sunday, she decided to eat a snack and enjoy the sunny weather. 

My wife and son, though, consider it an offense if there are fish that have not been caught in a body of water. Every piece of water will be explored with flies and lures, and no quarter will be given to their adversaries. 

At one point on Sunday afternoon, it sounded like someone was reading the air pressure gauge while inflating a flat tire. I’d hear from one side of the lake my son say, “Twelve!”

A few minutes later, after some splashing, I heard him yell, “Thirteen!”  

Just as the tire gets pumped up one pound per square inch at a time, my son’s confidence grew with the number of trout he fooled. 

My wife was not as vocal with her counting, but when I asked how many she had caught she responded mid-cast, “A little over thirty,” as she plopped her secret fly in front of a cruising trout. 

From across the pond, I hear, “Seventeen!” My son removed the hook from the trout and sent it back to the depths and did a dance. My wife seemed determined to catch every fish. She started asking her dad, “Exactly how many fish did they stock in here?”

What seems like an innocent question is not out of curiosity, but a way to finish a math equation. How many more fish does she need to catch to have caught them all?

I stopped hearing my son call out numbers and glanced over to see him playing with his sister. His fishing rod was packed away. 

I stop watching my wife continue to catch fish and walk over to my kids. I ask my son, “Everything ok? Are you done fishing?”

 “Yeah,” he responds, “I think seventeen is enough.” 

Maybe he does have a few of my genes after all.