Not an escape…an immersion.

A couple years ago, my boys went fishing. When our older boy decided to go, I remembered wondering how on earth that busy, active child would ever fare as a fisherman. I thought it would never gain his attention and he would be bored, bored, bored.

Fast forward to now, and he mows lawns in order to earn money for fishing rods, reels, and lures. He’s rummaged through the basement, garage, and countless boxes to find our old fly fishing rods and flies. YouTube has been his teacher when his Dad is at work, and my usual Uber-baseball-driving skills have morphed into Uber-driving skills to various ponds. And if the ponds call for attention when the sun has barely peeked over the horizon, our boy’s bike has become his trusty steed, taking him miles and miles all over our little town in search of fish.

He’s spent hours in the yard, learning his 10’s and 2’s…as well as learning that it’s harder than it looks.

He’s not the only one with the bug. On evenings when there’s not a lot of daylight left, the three main men in my life pile into the truck with gear and bug spray and head for the nearest water.

It’s quiet. It’s lovely. And sometimes the younger one gets a little bored and digs in the dirt. 

But I think it’s teaching them to breathe. To look around and listen to things they might miss otherwise. To learn to read the color and nature of water, seasons, time of day, and understand a little more about how those things might work for or against them in their quest to not just fish, but catch.

Sometimes, we even get dinner out of the deal.

Last December, we took a family vacation; the first over their Christmas break so that we can learn, as a family, that experiences and memories are way more meaningful than stuff under the Christmas tree. We booked a six-hour, guided fishing trip that kind of blew our minds. 

First, there were several times when our guide would stop in mid-sentence and ask, “Do you want to catch a fish? Cast right there.” Every time, these guys would catch a fish. It was like magic.

Second, Hank got to fish the entire time. It so happens that most of his fishing time with the boys is as a detangler and lure fixer, but not this day. When you have a guide…HE DOES IT ALL FOR YOU. What was meant to be a Christmas gift for the boys ended up as the greatest day of all for Hank. He got to fish WITH them. 

They even fished for rocks and coconuts…and caught them totally on purpose. Yep.

At one point, Holden caught a cichlid, otherwise known as an Oscar. Our guide explained that people dump fish out of aquariums and they can end up surviving in these canals. 

Interesting, isn’t it? Even if you’re dumped where you weren’t intended to live, you still can. He might not be pretty, but he’s a survivor. That’s pretty inspiring.

So we’ve moved into the Four Seasons of Being a Pantier: winter, baseball, fishing, and deer/elk season. It’s pretty groovy and it keeps down the funkiness of taking ourselves too seriously.

But I have to tell you a secret. I’m holding out for a pontoon boat. I mean, where on earth can I put the grill and slide on a mere fishing boat?

“Fishing is not an escape from life, but often a deeper immersion into it…”  
-Harry Middleton