Sunshine dances on the water and gives the appearance that stardust has settled on the river. Bare toes cautiously explore the pebbles beneath the surface as an older sibling teases that the crawdads like to hide on the bottom and bite toes. The boys dug around under the rocks and driftwood until one of them finds the lost jig embedded in a piece of driftwood. They know its a good one because there is hardly any rust. There is just enough line still attached for a leader.
The boys hit upon the I idea that if they can catch enough fish for dinner that mom and dad would have to admit that are men now. Excitedly, they search the river bank and find enough discarded line to make a go of it. The oldest boy ties a section of line to a large piece of oak bark he found floating on the waters edge. Because they knew better than to make a splash. The boys hung the jig from the bark and pushed it out into water like a toy sail boat. A long stick gave them a little extra pushing power for a longer float time. Taking turns with one of them pushing the makeshift fishing boat out and the other one slowly reeling it back in by winding the line around short forked stick that was also plucked from the river. After some time with no action the boys decided that they need to do something different to make the fish bite. What they need was to make it more like real food.
The older boy jammed the forked stick into the muddy river bank and lead his brother back to camp for bread and peanut butter from the camp supplies. If a good o’l Peanut butter sandwich couldn’t make the fish bite then nothing would work. They hadn’t noticed the old man sitting behind the bulrush just a few yards away. He had listened to every word that passed between the boys as they made their plans to enter into manhood by proving to be successful fishermen. As soon as they were out of sight he cast his own line across their’s and drew their makeshift rig into the rushes. He carefully removed the largest Bass from his own stringer. He waited until he saw the boys return with their peanut butter sandwich bait and hooked his catch onto their rigging. The large bass revived and pulled the bark float out away from the bank just in time for the boys to see the line go tight. They ran to the forked stick and began to wind in the line as fast they could. To their joy they found the biggest fish they’d ever seen in their short lives on the other with the jig planted firmly in it’s jaw.
In celebration they split the sandwich and carried the large bass on the end of the line high in the air. Their little hearts swollen with pride. The old man gathered the remaining fish he had caught; climbing over the bank, he realized that he hadn’t quite remained as unseen as he thought. Looking up noticing his wife of fifty years at the top. She had seen the whole thing from the finding of the jig by two young boys to the sacrifice of a trophy bass by her husband. “I believe that was the big one that you’ve been after for ten years. Wasn’t it?” she beamed as she spoke. “Yup” was his only reply. “Why?” she queried. “Well”, he replied, “I will always know what it felt like to catch the big one. It’s something that I will never forget and neither will they. She realized that passing on his passion to the young boys was a far better trophy than anything he could ever hang on the wall of his den.
It’s been said that if you give a man a fish you can feed him for the day but if you teach a man to fish then you feed him for a lifetime. Occasionally, both are possible.
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