Growing up in Northern Alabama means you know that WalMart sells crickets and those crickets are on sale Sunday afternoons. The art of wetting a line was mine to claim from, a young age. Dad and I would spend weekends on various simplistically named bodies of water (Gunterville, Goose Pond, the Elk, the Flint) equipped with an alarming amount of crickets, ZOOM bait, honeywheat bread and cheap ham. Riptide Rush Gatorade and Michelob Ultra were the choice drinks to ensure proper hydration. The days we filled with a simple formula: cast, reel, catch, release. Bass love lake-**** and Crappie muddy banks. Catfish are not worth the effort involved with avoiding their poisonous whiskers when unhooking even though they look like Dinosaurs. After a lunch of sweaty ham and blue-bag doritos a quick swim in the water is absolutely crucial to cool down and finally get rid of the weariness sitting on a rocking boat gives you. The big fish bite during dusk and dawn. Some only after the sun goes down. Sleep came when the green and white light rods on the boat become too bright for tired eyes. Finding a random small island in the water, tying the boat to an Hardwood Oak, and rolling out the sleeping bags on the red-clay will always provide the best sleep of your life-just don't think about snakes. The stars are always brightest and the cricket and cicada harmony the most melodic on this little Alabamian islands.
With each year the opportunity for these ventures dissipated. The fishing never stopped-the creeks in the neighborhood, pond beside our family home, and lakes on the Robert Trent Jones golf course (the 18th hole on the River Course was the best) provided ample opportunity to cure the itchy thumb syndrome.
I remember in high-school my father would fish alone by the lake with our dog by his side and an Ultra in his cup-holder almost every night. It was his time to unwind and process. I always appreciated his dedication to the art and the mastery of skills he passed on to me, but I never understood why he fished every single evening.
I have been in the so called real world for a mere two year since college graduation. I have completed a post-graduate program, dated and broken up with various women, obtained a full time position doing honest and difficult work for those in need, and recently became a Dad to a hound of my own.
There in a river that flows through my city, but it is to far to venture to every night. The rivers surface in most places reflects bright lights. On weekends you will find kayak enthusiasts paddling against the current like wasps in the wind. The river, here, is a place of fast motion and has forgotten the beauty of a restful yellow bobber downing crickets.
Fishing equates opportunity for breathing. I still wet my line most weekends, but at 24 there is not enough time to recapture the dreams only found on red clay riverbanks. The river remembers and the fish still look like dinosaurs to me.