Fishing with PaPaw

Both of my grandfathers liked to fish. Granddaddy, my father’s dad, owned a commercial fishing boat. Groups of people, mostly men, would charter the boat for a day’s fishing in the Chesapeake Bay. When all were aboard, Granddaddy would navigate to his favorite fishing holes. I loved to hear him and my father talk about the fish the men caught…and, of course, the ones that got away.

      My father always wanted a son to take fishing. Instead, he took his two daughters. He bought us fishing rods and reels and off we went. There were two small problems. The first problem was he expected us to put the worms on the hooks ourselves. My sister was fine with it; I wasn’t about to touch those slimy things. The second problem was I suffer from motion sickness.
     I remember being on the boat and feeling quite ill. Dad told me to go below and rest. BAD IDEA!!! I became violently ill. The fish must have been biting well that day, because I don’t remember granddaddy immediately heading the boat to the marina. My recollection is we stayed out until the fishing was over. Needless to say, my fishing days were over!
     The younger Carolyn loved to fish. I use that term lightly, because no fish were involved. I grew up in the country on a farm with ponds, creeks and swimming holes all around. I have vivid memories of one particular creek bed with a rocky bottom and ankle-deep water. I had a metal pail and a fishing pole—a tree branch outfitted with string, a hook PaPaw fashioned from wire, and a worm he speared onto the wire. Although it was a hot summer day, the shade from the trees made the temperature bearable.
     PaPaw leaned against a tree on the bank as I traipsed toward the frigid water. He was so patient with me. Never once did he rush me, tell me to hurry up, or get up to signal it was time to leave. He was content to watch me for as long as I wanted to fish. He lasted longer than I did.
     The minnows were not interested in the bait. They liked playing tag with the hundreds of other minnows swimming in the creek. They darted right past my fishing gear and never once stopped to nibble. I guess by the time my feet were numb from the icy water, I grew tired of fishing. My solution was to scoop up as many minnows as possible into my pail and call it a day.
     I would sit beside PaPaw, count my catch, and release the minnows back into the creek. Only then was it time to go home.
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