fish wish

Brent Hoehns gives his grandaughter, Brooklyn Youngblut, 7, tips on fishing, patience and other important life skills.

Whether you’re a kid or you’re fishing with one, there’s something beautiful about a bobber plunging into a lake.

Some foolish fish — size and species to-be-determined — has let hunger get the best of its little brain. After a frantic tug-of-war, that first glimpse of gills is always a thrill. Getting it off the hook and into the frying pan can be messy, but fishing’s allure struck me at the first nibble I ever got.

Watching kids and cops wet their lines together Saturday brought back an early fishing memory. My dad took me to a fishing derby when I was about 7. The shore was thick with kids, and the most likely thing to be caught was your neighbor’s hook.

I stood by a tree with my bamboo pole, sipping a Dr. Pepper while the fish ignored everybody. Unfortunately, the pop had the same effect on me that it did on Forrest Gump. Nature called, and Dad didn’t want me to do things that bears — and usually boys — are allowed to do in the woods. It was too crowded, and he was too busy fishing to walk me to the outhouse.

So I did what came naturally, bouncing in agony. My jiggling wiggled down the fishing line, and somehow that attracted fish. I hooked a bunch, to Dad’s amazement and chagrin. My memory fades, but he probably hauled me off the shore because I was out-fishing him.

I felt a little envious myself Saturday as I watched young anglers around the lake at Marion County Park. My own kids never caught the fishing bug. Seems they had issues with gutting the fish we’d caught in my in-laws’ pond, then going home and wondering what fate awaited the fish in our aquarium. I get that. It’s like wondering why Mickey Mouse is chummy with Goofy, a dog, but treats Pluto like, well, a dog.

Just like I enjoyed fishing with my father, I found other pastimes that warmed hours or mere moments with my kids — wheelbarrow rides, Frisbees flung well past dusk and cheesy TV reruns.

Fishing is like life in that way. It takes a lot of casting and a lot of patience to find what works for you. You’ve just got to keep trying.

Summer’s here, and the time is right for trying something new, especially things that stretch us and our kids from the normal routine. The Helmets & Hot Dogs event Monday marked the unofficial start of summer vacation and biking season. Registration is under way for the library’s summer reading program.

I cautiously signed up last June for that program. It challenged me to try new types of books, including graphic novels. I prefer non-fiction myself, especially history, and considered graphic novels to be glorified comic books. That was until I discovered “March,” a series by Congressman John Lewis about the tragedies and triumphs of the civil rights movement. As Forrest might say, “you never know what you’re gonna get.”

A radio show Sunday reminded me that time is money, and that how we spend our time reflects what we value. I heard this message as I weeded my garden, another pastime my kids never embraced. I’m not sure whether to regret the hours spent alone out there or to feel good about giving them space to grow and nudges to try.

However, wherever you cast your seeds or your line, go deep into new opportunities.

Pat Finan is the managing editor of the Journal-Express. He can be reached in the newsroom at 641-842-2155 or via email at

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