I Scarificed Principle for Love

A. Macarthur
01/25/17 07:11:26PM
@a-macarthur

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Years ago, a (former) girl friend of mine made an embarrassing, wrong selection on a multiple choice exam question; she identified a "dogma" as a "female puppy."

There were other reasons that relationship went south - not relevant beyond this point in the story, however.

Dogmas - "principles laid down by an authority as being incontrovertibly true" - interestingly, like dogs (my apologies to Gracie, my dog) these can sometimes bite you in the metaphorical ass. In an applicable such dogma, a fishing-dogma of mine, in fact ... bit mine … the bite being well-worth it however!

Yes, I said "fishing," and I know an explanation is required because I've opened a "can-of-worms" (pun sort of intended).

Actually, I'm talking grasshoppers ... not worms, and a net ... not a can.

I'm one of those fly-fisherman/environmentalist types … and we don't fish with live bait, neither do we fish with hooks that have barbs (those reverse curved projections near the hook point). Fish will swallow live bait if at first they don't detect the hook, and, consequently will swallow the hook which usually kills them. A barbless hook makes its removal from a fish's mouth, smooth and easy.

I'm a "catch-and-release" guy. That's the dogma - catch the fish, land the fish, gently unhook the fish, release the fish unharmed. I'm also an adult (although I do need to remind my wife occasionally that, while "we can't stop the aging process, I can always act immature if I feel like it") - and sometimes, I do "feel like."

Being an "adult," on days when all those fishing around me are catching fish with bait - worms and minnows, I will still fish with an artificial insect imitation (a "fly") that I tied using thread, feathers and other materials which a hooked fish will know, once "tasting" it, to try and spit out. On such days, I don't catch many fish and being an adult, I stand by my catch-and-release dogma accepting the fact that I don't need to catch fish to enjoy the experience.

My grandson on the other hand, is a child (or was at the time I originally wrote this … he's agge 14 today). If he's not catching fish, it's just about impossible for him (after a half-hour or so), to accept ... which is difficult for me to accept because when I'm fishing with my grandson, I never want it to end.

Late last summer, neither my grandson nor I, nor anyone fishing near us, were catching fish - not with bait, not with flies ... not with anything.

Ideology, dogma and the emotional pragmatism of a grandfather's love …collided. From my dark past as a bait fisherman (hey, I went to the B.A. meetings, o.k.? … oh … it stands for "Baitfishers Anonymous)," I pulled out a long-forsaken strategy … a formula, a compromise of principle, the rejection of a dogma … for the sake of love … for the sake of making my grandson happy.

Grasshoppers! All around the edge of the lake, like snakes-in-the-grass … scratch that unnecessary metaphor … like the grasshoppers they were … sat, yes … grasshoppers! While not the easiest of creatures to put firmly on a fishhook, once impaled and in the water, they catch fish - all kinds of fish. Even on a hot day in bright sunlight, a hungry bass, a curious trout and damn near any sunfish in America will rise from the shade of a submerged tree limb or a stand of water lilies to the distressed kicking of a grasshopper that wants out.

With my grandson kicking the grass in front of him as he walked, and I, waiting some ten feet ahead with a net to catch the grasshoppers fleeing in panic from his foot steps, one-at-a-time, the grasshoppers and my grandson made me compromise my fishing principles, my environmentalist ethic, my dogma.

It was in part "vanity" that caused me to gloat (inwardly to myself) and to praise openly, over-and-over, my grandson, as baffled, fishless veteran anglers watched him catch-and-release while they couldn't even … catch.

I will personally never go back to the insensitive and evil practice of bait-fishing. I am, after all, a man of principle.

But I am also a grandfather; and to fish with my grandson is to receive a gift from the cosmos …from God … from whoever or whatever put men, grandfathers, grandchildren, bass, trout, those not-so-smart sunfish and even … grasshoppers down here.

For those who haven't experienced the words-can-never-express-feeling of having a grandchild's fishy hands and fingers give you a hug, if/when you do, like a fish or two I've known, you also will be "caught." And you will then, without the slightest need to think about it, wish to forever … avoid the release.