It has been nonstop fishing questions around our house since last weekend: "When are we going to buy my fishing rod?" "When are we going to go fishing?" and all the follow-up questions that come when you're five and don't have a real grasp of the days of the week or the passage of time.
We went to buy the fishing rod on Saturday at the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in San Jose.
It was an epic adventure. As you can see, there was a lot to take in, including boats, ATVs, bowling, and fortunately, fishing gear, too.
We had planned our first fishing adventure for Monday. On Sunday afternoon, I realized I had some questions of my own, including how to set up Wyatt's rod. A dozen or so years ago, I was pretty into fishing. But since then, I haven't touched my gear or even thought about fishing, and any specific knowledge I once had has disappeared from my brain without a trace. Google searches confused me more than I could have thought possible. So I called my brother, who talked me through the entire set-up (including specific knots) over speakerphone while he was driving. It's tough to beat that kind of tech support. As Wyatt remarked, "Good thing you called Uncle Greg!"
On Monday morning, we stopped by the hardware store to pick up a pair of needle nose pliers (mine had disappeared along with my fishing knowledge, I guess) and to see if we could find some worms. I remembered that Flowercraft had some garden worms, and when we arrived, I saw that they were half-price. When I said we were planning to fish with them, the woman helping us let us see how big they were (not very, but workable), and then gave us the box for free.
We headed for Lake Merced. Within about ten minutes of our arrival, a fisherman we later learned was named Merlin caught a catfish. Wyatt was SURE he was next to catch a fish. And so we fished all morning. At lunch time, we took a break and drove to a deli for some sandwiches. When we returned to the lake, our fishing spot had been taken by another group. Merlin invited us to join him on the shore, with his three open rainbow umbrellas, several chairs, three fishing rods, blaring sports radio, and an array of homemade fishing gear that was frankly astounding.
Merlin had written his name on every item that could hold it, including on the handle of the black umbrella that hung closed on the railing next to his towels and rags, each of which was attached to a string that was tied in a bow around the railing. The black umbrella, we quickly learned, was for chasing away raccoons. It worked very well. In fact, we have Merlin (and his black umbrella) to thank for saving Wyatt's water bottle from the paws of a persistent, curious, and grabby juvenile raccoon.
After rescuing the water bottle, we fished beside Merlin for awhile. As the afternoon wore on, Merlin offered Wyatt some bobbers, and then he offered to improve his rod set-up with some weights from his own kit and a long leader with a red hook. He looked at the worms we had and chided, "Where did you get these? How much did you pay for them?" I told him the garden store, and that they were free. He shook his head. "These are no good," he said, "Don't get them again. We have to put three on the hook to even get started! Go to Dick's Sporting Goods next time. Worms are in the refrigerator." He proceeded to pile three of the largest worms I could find in the bag onto the hook and then added a dollop of homemade, secret-recipe trout bait to the end. He put Wyatt's rod in an extra stand he had, and then he loaned Wyatt his binoculars.
We fished for another hour or so, and while it's hard to believe that any trout could have resisted Merlin's worm parfait royale, they all did. No fish for us today. But by my last cast, Merlin shouted, "Hey! Good one!" And Wyatt and I both remarked on our walk back to the car that we felt very happy.