Morning Sun
  • TRUE STORIES: Angling with Adam on a Sunday afternoon

  • If you’re too busy to go fishing, you’re too busy.” — Anonymous

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  • If you’re too busy to go fishing, you’re too busy.” — Anonymous
    Knowing I could use a little respite from recent events in my life, poet friend, Adam Jameson, invited me to go crappie fishing on a sunny Sunday afternoon not long ago.
    People fish for lots of reasons — for food, to make a living, for pleasure — but pleasure angling is best. No pressure. No negative consequences for not catching any (other than a little disappointment). Not to mention the spiritual feeling that comes with being outdoors beneath a robin egg sky, breathing clean air and soaking up sunshine.
    So I dusted off the Stream and Lake rod and reel I got for my 11th birthday, secured it in the bed of Adam’s pickup, and set off with him to bank fish (too windy to float his boat) at a nearby lake. Along the way, Adam, provided color commentary about the farms we passed. I was content to be mostly a listener, as I wanted to give my brain a rest.
    Another benefit of fishing is that doesn’t require much brain wattage. Attach some form of bait or lure to a hook, cast it into the water, and wait for the fish to bite. In my case, I didn’t even have to select a lure. Adam handed me a Road Runner and I tied it on. So my three pounds of brain got to kick back and relax for a while. No pressure, no deadlines, nobody wanting this or that, no TV, no phone, nobody interrupting.
    Before long I found myself daydreaming about how, when I was a kid, I'd set off alone to fish Blue Sea strip pit on Ben Grilz’s land north of Frontenac on Saturday mornings in the spring. Some days I'd cast for bass, perch and bluegill with a red, plastic worm or yellow jig, watching the monofilament arc across the morning sky like the trail of a shooting star. Other days I'd bait my hook with a meaty sod worm, aim and lob it — along with a heavy lead sinker — like a mortar to the middle of the pit, prop my rod on the Y of a branch jammed down into the mud, lie on my back, look up at the sky's blue palm, and dream a catfish dream.
    Bam!  A fish hit the lure and woke me from my reverie. I jerked to set the hook and began to reel. The fish angled toward the moss to my right but, not having enough line to get there, turned abruptly up to break the surface, trying hard to free himself in a writhing leap into the air. Not a crappie but a bass; a beautiful largemouth. I landed him, removed the hook, looked long into his unblinking eye, and released him with a sigh.
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    Not much action for the next thirty minutes or so. No problem, I was lost in the rhythm of casting. Aiming the lure to certain spots. Playing with different reeling speeds. Realizing that, like riding a bike, once you learn to use a rod and reel you never forget.
    “Let’s move on over to the other side,” Adam suggested. “Okay,” I said, and followed. Once there I switched from the Road Runner to a yellow jig. Before long I was pulling in a crappie on every third cast.
    My heart fluttered a little as I connected with each fish on that thin line of translucent fiber and worked them to shore wondering — just I had as a boy, alone at Blue Sea — if it might be them who were catching me. That they’d been waiting there just for me.  Waiting to give me a message ... about something mysterious.
    But not all my angling as a boy was solitary. Sometimes it was off with grandpa Matt to fish with a cane pole, exuberantly singing “I found a horseshoe” as we rattled along in his old pickup, or to Oklahoma with dad to fish Grand Lake with my brothers. Others, two or three of my best friends would get up early, meet me at my back steps as I finished my paper route, and go with me on a fishing "expedition” to Frontenac City Park, Saia's pond, Whitesnake, Snip's pond, the State Park, or Fred Rosetti's farm pond, where we sometimes camped overnight and watched movies on the massive 69 Drive-in screen in the distance.
    Adam moved to another spot and started catching white bass like crazy so I put the Road Runner back on and joined him. For a while it was fishing heaven as we caught a bass on two out of every three casts into a brisk breeze that made little ripple-waves that sparkled like rhinestones in the late afternoon sun. Then the run stopped and it was time to head for home.
    The pickup ride back to Pittsburg was, like the ride there, gentle with conversation and camaraderie — contemplatives headed slowly back to embrace what Zorba the Greek called “the full catastrophe” of civilization.
    I went to bed that night grateful. It had been a soothing day beneath the azure dome — casting loops over the shimmering surface for crappie, white bass, and Blue Sea memories.
    J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and prevention and wellness coordinator at Pittsburg State University. He also operates Knoll Training, Consulting & Counseling Services in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 231-0499 or jtknoll@swbell.net
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