Joel Vernier

A beautiful sunny day, filled with warmth and low humidity makes for a great nap in my “Comfy Chair.” As I was dreaming about a feast at an all you can eat buffet, as they are not currently being served in our town due to COVID. The best thing about dreaming about consuming mass quantities at a buffet is that you get all of the smells, taste, and “eye candy” of enjoying the banquet is that you do not get any calories. I felt a tugging on my left shoulder. It was my wife reminding me that I have to go out and purchase some night crawlers, for my fishing trip with my buddy Mark tomorrow morning. I responded, “okay, I’m on it!”

As I was driving to our local pizza place and bait shop, my mind began to drift back in time to my first recollection of seeing a worm. I was about four years old, playing in our backyard in Royal Oak, Michigan. I remember picking up a cement patio square. Under it, I notice there was no grass growing, but there were three night crawlers, big and squirmy, and a couple of smaller worms. I reached down to pick one up, and it slipped out of my fingers. On my second attempt to pull it out of the earth, I was able to get it, and I placed it in my hand to show my Dad. 

He was pleased to see my nightcrawler and told me to find a couple dozen, and we would go fishing tomorrow. I spent the next couple of hours turning over various things and found 24 of them. Dad told me to get a container with a lid, place some dirt in it, punch holes in the top so the worms could breathe. We put the container in the refrigerator overnight.

We drove for about an hour to a place that was open to the public, on a lake with a dock to fish from. Dad showed me how to bait a hook, it was gross, he took the nightcrawler, and with the precision of a surgeon, impaled it multiple times on the hook. Next, he placed a bobber on the line a few inches about the hook. 

Then he cast it out, and I was told to watch the bobber, and if it went underwater, to yank on it to set the hook into the fish. After an eternity of staring at the red and white plastic bobber, it disappeared under the surface, I pulled up on the fishing rod and caught my first fish. It fought hard pulling the bobber down, again and again, I thought it must be Moby Dick to be pulling so hard. Finally, I lifted up my rod and brought the fish to the dock. It was bigger than my hand, but my hand was not very big at four years old. My dad took the bluegill off the hook for me and placed it in a bucket of water. He said if I caught a dozen or so, we could clean them and have them for dinner.

We had a great afternoon fishing, and I was “hooked” on the sport. When we had enough for a meal, we packed up and went home. Dad showed me how to clean the fish, and that was also very gross and smelly. When we were done, dad took them to the kitchen, dipped them in egg, flour with salt and pepper, and fried them up in a pan. They were delicious, today a bluegill fish dinner is one of my favorites. Looking back at life, it’s the little moments and adventures like his that I remember with joy. When my daughter was about that age, I took her fishing, and she squealed as she caught her first fish. I hoped she would fondly remember our first fishing adventure.

“Remember, every day is a gift! Some are just a little more fun to open than others. – © Joel M. Vernier 07/22/2020 Author of: “The Guinea Pig In The Freezer.” joelmvernier@aol.com.

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