Questions and Answers
In all reality, it's a good thing it wasn't represented any
differently. To have named it "Take a Kid out in a Boat on a Calm Sunny
Day" would most certainly have forced a postponement of this year's
affair. To have titled it "A Day When Only Adults Suffer the Effects of
Motion Sickness" would have made us look like liars. Even to have
called it something quite obvious like "Take a Kid Out to Catch a Bunch
of Fish" would have been a tough moniker to live up to. And while the
weather and fishing success of the past few years might have tempted
those involved to substitute a more grandiose title, the conditions
surrounding this year's "Take A Kid Fishing" event made it quite clear
that the present title should stick.
The end result was never really in doubt. Perhaps the only real
surprise was that the National Weather Service forecast of high winds,
heavy rains and cold temperatures for the June 14th "Take A Kid Fishing"
day was actually correct. In sharp contrast to prior years, fish, spare
rain coats, and Dramamine were all predictably tough to come by. Such
harsh conditions certainly raise a few questions (perhaps not the least
of which concerns the sanity of both the participants and volunteers),
but it seems that it is the "question-raising" more than anything else,
that makes this particular June day a worthwhile endeavor for anyone
Obvious questions about motivation like- If these kids were
showing up only for great weather and good fishing, why did 112 of the
114 sign-ups appear on the dock last Wednesday despite the predicted reports of
abysmal weather and equally poor fishing?
Urban questions about commitment like- Why didn't the 82 adults
Who volunteered their time and effort take a look at the local forecast and
just call in sick?
Introspective questions about the confusing and impersonal
nature of downrigger fishing like- How come, through jaded adult eyes,
was it so hard for me to understand that "reeling up the fish" or "netting the
fish" had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with "catching that fish"
and that any pictures of "that fish" needed to be taken with the person
who "caught that fish" despite the fact they had absolutely no physical
role in the landing of the fish and were associated with "that fish"
only by virtue of a casual pole claiming gesture 10 or 15 minutes
Educational questions like- Is it time to reassess our direction
when a13 year-old resort community kid's 'Take a Kid Fishing' application
form is turned in and in the blank provided for 'fishing experience' they
write "a lot, but I've never tried anything except downrigging"?
Priority questions like- Why, of the twenty pictures rattled off
on the Polaroid in my boat, did only five have anything to do with fish, while
the other fifteen were focused on other boats, birds, shorelines, and
And just when the questions seem to start getting a little too
big, a few answers get thrown out to make things a bit easier to digest.
As I floated around the rapidly thinning, late afternoon crowd that had
sought shelter in Sportsman's downstairs dining room, I came across a
boy I had met once or twice before. His clothing and hair were soaked
despite the best efforts of his tattered rain gear. He was quietly
inspecting the contents of his "goody bag", looking over each piece of
candy and tackle very carefully as if he was predetermining the time and
place for their eventual usage. I interrupted his reverie to ask him
how the day had gone.
"Great", he replied with genuine enthusiasm and a toothy smile.
"You must have caught a fish or two", I countered, assuming that
such enthusiasm could only have come from successful angling.
"No, our boat didn't catch anything," was the matter of fact response.
I thought about pursuing this line further. He must have been
with friends. Maybe it was the company of a particularly good Captain or
First-Mate that made his day. Perhaps he was on a big boat complete
with a cabin and a microwave. But as I considered the options, it
occurred to me that I was no longer wondering for his sake, but for my
own. I quietly placed my ego to one side, thanked him for coming out
and went about my business.
Sometimes the simplest of answers are the best.