I don’t know how Ed lost the index finger on his left hand, it might have been in a lawn mower or a war injury, I don’t remember. I just remember the withered rough skin where a finger should have been on his left hand.
I remember it tying a fishing line for me early one morning as we hit a small misty pond trying to catch some bass. Anytime someone mentions the word “bass” to me, I think of that time I went fishing with Ed.
And yet I remember them like it was something I did every weekend with him every summer. The memories are that vivid.
The past two weekends, I’ve tried to go fishing with the boys. I say “try,” because despite the experience with Ed, and the dozens and dozens of times I went fishing with my Dad, I don’t know how to fish. I am the world’s worst fisherman. I had to go to the local Fishin’ Hole to get help tying knots and how to relearn how to rig my gear. But I’m trying, right?
Zacharie and I got up early on Saturday, hit Tim Horton’s for breakfast and drove an hour or so north of the city to check out a stocked trout pond in Crossfield.
A dad with a young daughter arrived the same time we did. They dropped 4 rainbows in their bucket in 10 minutes, we sat in silence. 2 hours later we drove home, empty handed.
It’s a little bit embarrassing, to be honest. Fishing is something I’ve done my entire life. My dad took all of us to the shores of Lake Ontario to catch perch and sunfish as kids. I can still see his hands cutting worms and baiting hooks for me while shouting directions to my sister or brother to watch their lines and “reel it in!”
Whenever I have wanted to spend some quality time with my dad, it has been on a fishing trip. We’ve gone on trips to Campbell River, Sooke, and Sandspit. I rented a big truck with him and took a week hitting the lakes of northern BC to try our hand at fly fishing. When he turned 70, we went sturgeon fishing on the Fraser River.
I want to be a good fisherman like my dad, I want to use it as an analog way to spend quality time with my kids, but honestly? I’m terrible at it.
The next day it was Charlie’s turn. Wouldn’t you know it? The pond I had chosen was washed out from the Alberta floods the previous summer. What was once a tranquil kid-friendly pond, was now a rough river bed tossed with huge rocks and debris.
There would be no fish caught this day, however there would be many rocks thrown in the water.
After our rock throwing, we visited a local bakery for a snack.
“Daddy, this is a fun day,” Charlie smiled as he dug into another bite of his far too big treat. And with those six simple words, all of my angst over being a terrible angler washed away.
As we sat in silence, I thought of the time I went fishing with Ed. I remembered the dozens of times I had gotten up early to go fishing with my dad. I thought of that trip in 2006 when we drove for 14 hours, just to be together. I didn’t think of the fish we caught, or the ones that got away. I just thought about the time I spent with Ed, and the time I spent with my dad.
It was then that I got it: It doesn’t matter if you’re the world’s worst fisherman, spending time with your kids makes it the best day ever.