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Fishing Girls Cars Fishing

Jeff Ell SmallIn the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to fishing.

It was Lord Tennyson who said that a young man’s fancy lightly turns to love. But I’m pretty sure he never did much fishing when he was a kid.

Understand that there is a springtime or two in the life of a young man when the leaves of his adolescence are but the size of a squirrel’s ear – a few short years when young men gaze from their pre-algebra prisons and dream only of fishing.

An innocent and sometimes awkward season when their legs are strong enough to pedal bikes to far off ponds and lakes, but still too young to be intoxication by the smell of carburetors or hypnotized by the sight of halter tops.

The warm days and cool nights before the trickle of testosterone that is spawning the first hatch of acne on his unshaved face melts into a swollen hormonal river that floats tackle boxes and fishing poles into basements and garages. Dark corners where the once beloved gear sits, while their prodigal owner learns to navigate the turbid teenaged waters.

Fear not tackle box and fishing pole. Your owner will return. He’ll unsnap your hasp and wiggle your tip again soon enough. He will find you when his heart has been broken and all the chrome has lost its shine.

For fishermen, there are but four season of life: Fishing-Cars-Girls-Fishing. For some, girl season comes before car season, and for others they happen at the same time. But fishing will always be first and always be last.

Those were the days my old fishing friends.

Dewy Sunday mornings pedaling ten speeds through sleeping neighborhoods with knapsacks of worms and pull tab sodas slung on our backs. Days when a dog was your best friend and rainy evenings were spent collecting night crawlers in the glow of a big flashlight with red cellophane rubber banded over the lens.

Weekday afternoons when we sat near the window to day dream undistracted by things like prepositions and whole numbers. I still don’t know what either of those two things are. I’m sure their important to writers and accountants.

But in those few years I learned some lessons that have served me well the rest of my life. I learned that you can know you’ve hooked a big pickerel if the fish begins to spiral down deep after it’s been hooked. I learned to tie an improved clinch knot with my eyes closed and a barrel knot while holding one end of the line that still had a fish on it.

I know that you and your buddy should always have a prearranged plan about which way you’re going to run if the owner of the pond or the security guys at the reservoir start chasing you. This is also why you also learn real quick never to lock your bike up, and to just stash it in the bushes out near the road so you can make a quick getaway.

The first time I heard about the four seasons was while I was cat fishing off a bridge one spring night with my dad and a family friend. The younger man’s face was silhouetted in the halo of far off street lights. He inhaled a big last drag off his cigarette and flicked it as far as he could. The orange tip tumbled through the night until it was swallowed by the black water below.

He said, “When I was a kid I was into fishing, then I got into cars, then I got into girls, now I’m back to fishing.” His words came out slow and were muffled by the wet spring air.

I was at that age when fishing was just starting to lose its allure. But still too young to understand why a guy with a Firebird and girlfriend who waterskied in a bikini would ever spend his nights fishing.

But now I get it.

Jeff Ell is pretty good at catching, killing, picking, and growing things to eat. He regularly finds bemusement in the outdoors and enjoys telling his stories to anyone who will listen. Jeff’s the author of Ruth Uncensored, blogs at and can be contacted via Facebook or smoke signal.

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