Wednesday's Gather Writing Essential's Challenge was to create a post that has fishing and green in it. I put the word green in the title so other than that this post isn't really green It is green in that this is a story that is kind to the environment. This is a repost of a post I wrote back in December of 2009. Pam wrote two post to respond to Thursday's Challenge so naturally I will create three for Wednesday's Challenge Pam......so there.
Some years ago when I was young and newly married my wife and I visited a fishing pier in a sleepy town on the central coast of California. The pier allowed cars on it but we decided to park our car up the beach and walk to the pier so that we could enjoy the experience of the pier to the fullest. Like any good fishing pier this fishing pier had it’s own ambiance with sounds and smells that is unique to the pier.
This one had the smell of salt air, blended with the smell of creosote from the wood on the pier mixed with diesel from the fishing boats exhaust and exhaust fumes from the cars driving on the pier. The sounds of the fishing pier that accompanied the smells of the pier included the creek creek that the pilings made as the pier rubbed up and down with the motion of the waves racing underneath it, mixed with the rumble rumble of the cars driving up an down the pier, joined by the sea gulls calling out to each other, along with the voices of fishermen, fisherwomen and tourists. Amongst the cacophony of sounds and smells on the pier were the sounds and smells of the restaurants, two charter boats and ice cream parlors.
At the end of the pier was the public fishing area that covered about the last third of the pier. It was very popular. In fact it was so popular that when we visited the pier that day people were elbow-to-elbow fishing. Some had caught fish and all had at least a few bites. No matter how badly someone else would have wanted to fish there that day, it just wouldn’t have been possible. There just wasn’t any room for even one more person to fish.
About thirty yard down the pier from the fishing area we walked by a little boy who was fishing through a knothole in the pier. The hole was about three inches in circumference. The hole wasn’t much bigger than the line and a little bit of bait. Cars were driving the pier about four feet to his left and people were walking all around him almost bumping in to him at times. The knothole was at least eight feet from the edge of the fishing pier. If the little boy ever caught a fish there was no way for him to unhook any fish he would catch but still he fished the knothole.
The little boy was no more than eight years old. He wore jeans and a tee shirt along with a pair of sneakers that had holes in them. His clothes were threadbare but clean. His hair was typically little kid combed in the front with a cowlick in the back much like a flag.
His fishing pole was an old bamboo pole with a reel that that hardly looked like it could spin at all while the filament line was so old it was gray. It was impossible to tell what bait or lure he had on the end of his line because the knothole was to small to see even where the line entered the water.
A little boy fishing a knothole brought him plenty of company. Everyone who walked by him stopped and talked to him. Everyone who stopped to visit with him left with a smile. The first question everyone wanted to know was “Did he catch anything?” The answer was “no, not yet.” The second question was “How long had he been fishing the knothole that day?” The answer was “Since right after breakfast about eight this morning.” The next question was “How long are you going to continue to fish?” The answer was “Until I have to go home for dinner about five. What time is it now?” We like so many others that day asked him those three questions and left smiling, even laughing.
When visiting with the little boy it was obvious that he was intelligent and that he was a determined young fellow. Yet somehow he missed the fact that even if he caught a fish it would be impossible for him to bring it in. How could he not understand that the knothole was not much bigger than the hook and bait, and that he was way too far from the edge of the pier to reach down and grab the fish? Whatever his reason for fishing the knothole he caught my attention and stayed in my memory.
As the years have passed memories of the little boy have often come back to me. It has occurred to me that maybe he was a successful fisherman after all. I am sure that at the end of the day the little boy who fished the knothole had the same kind of luck that many other fishermen and women have at the end of a day fishing. I am sure too that he was like most fishermen and women who feel a bad day of fishing is better than a good day doing most anything else.
Could it be that he wasn’t even really fishing for fish? Could it be that he was a lonely little boy who was fishing for company? If he was then he finished the day exceeding his limit. Could it be that he was a little boy who needed attention. If so by the end of the day he had a bag full of memories to take home with him. Could it be that the little boy was fishing for smiles? If so the little boy had caught enough smiles to share for days and years to come.
Some say that the best part of fishing is the stories told long after the fishing was done. The little boy on the pier has now grown into a man and I can guarantee that he tells his share of fishing stories from that day. I know that all of his memories from that day of fishing are warm ones. Fishing stories have a way of growing bigger and better each time they are told and as the years go by. I know that the fishing stories told by the little boy now a man have grown bigger and better as the years go by. I know that his stories told from that day have gotten warmer and more heart felt each time he tells them and that by now they are special indeed.
One of the nice things about fishing is that when you have more than enough for the fisherman and his family then you share. The little boy on the pier gave me his story to share. I have been filled with this memory and now I am sharing it with anyone who reads this. May we all fish often for memories as warm and special as this one and may we always have enough of these warm memories to share.