Gone Fishing

As a child, I remember fishing being a big deal in our family. When I was about 6, my great-grandfather Dewey (John Dewey Haines) died while fishing. I don’t remember much about Grandpa Dewey, but I know that fishing was his “release”. My understanding is that he and my grandma Lucille were never happy together. So, Dewey frequently went fishing to escape an unhappy situation. He was one of the few people I remember in the Haines family that smoked and I understand that he’d often drink on those outings.

Dewey dies doing what he loved

Dewey lived a hard life and years of smoking had given him emphysema. After my grandma Lucille died, his failing health made it necessary for him to move in with my grandparents. He passed the time with crafts and gardening but his one true relief was the fishing! The night he died, he was visiting a friend and never came back. A few days later, they found him at his favorite fishin’ hole slumped over in the water. The coroner believed that he had snagged a fish that was too strong for him and it pulled him in. With the emphysema, he didn’t have the strength to pull himself out of the water.

I must have occupied a special place in his heart, because he left me most of his remaining possessions in his will. He left me his bedroom suite and ALL of his fishing gear. I still have some of it to this day. Maybe he thought I’d catch his passion for the sport, but I never really did. Grandpa (PawPaw) used to take us to the pay lakes and that was all fun, but more for the company I s’pose. When we went to Michigan, PawPaw took us to fish off of a pier on Lake Michigan near Traverse City.

A series of unfortunate fishing events

Fish face

Maybe it’s because I have always had a “touch” of ADHD, but I just never enjoyed fishing that much. However, I do have several very fond and funny memories. On one occasion, we had been at a local pay-lake. I had my pole in hand was reeling back in the lure for another toss. Just then, the pole jerked and PawPaw knew I had one on the line. So, he started talking me through how to reel it in without losing it. After  5 or so minutes, I think he lost patience because he said, “Yank on it as hard as you can”. Well, I did, and what happened next still has me laughing. I pulled that pole with all of my might and out of the pond/lake flew this 10″ rainbow trout. It sailed over and past PawPaw and me and behind us. Unfortunately for MawMaw, she was standing about 10 feet behind me. That fish sailed 3″ from her face and landed in the grass behind her. Perturbed, PawPaw was ready for fish dinner!

The mother of all…carp

On another occasion PawPaw had taken me to our favorite pier off Lake Michigan. He always walked to the side of the pier, rolled up his pant legs and flung his feet over the side as he fished. I was always too afraid… That pier was 15′ above the water and the water was deep there. I couldn’t swim and always pictured myself being pulled in and drowning. This particular day, PawPaw actually snagged something. (I think it’s the only fish we ever caught off that pier) It took him a good 15 minutes to reel that sucker in and he attracted quite a crowd. When he got that fish out, it was a 24″ inch–CARP! Complete junk fish–not edible! He was so angry, but I know he was proud that he was able to snag something that big.

A private hangin’

Quite possibly the last time I went fishing, I nearly hanged myself. It was my very first camping trip as a Boy Scout. (I was 10 1/2 and just out of 5th grade) A group of the older boys found a creek behind the camping area. After we set camp, we had some free time so we went fishing. About 5 minutes in, I snagged a 11″ large mouth bass–beautiful fish. In the excitement, I ran off through the woods to get dad and show him. Little did I know that someone had strung up a clothesline over the trail…at my neck level. All dad heard was “Dad, Dad, Da…” THUD! He ran to find me and make sure I was OK. That out of the way, I got to show off my fish. So, we released it and I tossed my lure again. Not 5 minutes had passed when I snagged another one–another 11″ large mouth bass. It was probably the very same fish–we’ll call him Dopey.

Even more excited at catching TWO fish, I repeated the same scene as before–I had to show dad Dopey! Same route, same result. After we let Dopey go, I spent the rest of the night sitting around the campfire–wasn’t about to hang myself.

Maybe later?

I keep thinking that one of these days I’d like to try my hand at fishing again. I still suffer from that “touch” of ADHD, so maybe I won’t be able to sit through it. Who knows though? Perhaps I’ll need another activity to help me think when my body fails and I can’t mow anymore. We’ll see!

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