June 25, 2007
Explaining the Release
Rule to the Perfect Fishing Partner
went fishing the other day with my best friend, Bill Reinke. There we
were, two retirees from the daily newspaper wars motoring up to the lake
early on a Wednesday morning to spend six hours on the water.
it turned out, we caught nine fish total. Bill nailed four. I did battle
with and conquered five. And we weren’t the least bit disappointed that
not a single one of those fish was longer than five inches.
You see, I set my standards for what some folks call angling
decades ago and I’ve stuck with them ever since. As it turns out, Bill
takes pretty much the same approach to the sport as I do.
never begin a fishing outing expecting to actually catch fish. I figure
if you always catch fish when you fish then it should be called
“catching” not fishing.
Oddly enough, however, other than that similarity, Bill and I have very
little in common.
learned the ropes as a newspaper photographer in Miami, Florida. I
picked up the basics of the business in Flint, Michigan. When he goes
fishing, he dons a bright-colored and wide-brimmed straw hat with little
palm trees on it. I wear a Detroit Tigers baseball cap. But, despite our
many differences, we make great fishing partners because neither of us
takes it very seriously.
Two hours into the outing, we hadn’t caught a thing. But that was OK
with both of us because during that span when we were lucky enough to
see blue herons sweep in low over the water and we heard woodpeckers
play lilting jack-hammer tunes in the treetops overhead.
Then, 10 minutes later when I snared my first fish – a feisty,
2-inch-long bluegill - Bill was introduced to my quirky little habit
that’s always part of any fishing trip for me. Whenever I catch a
fish, no matter its size, I always say a few things to it. I usually
start with an ever-so-brief introduction, like maybe “Hello, my name is
Bob.” Then I usually add a few more comments before gently placing the
fish back into the water. And I always release a fish no matter its
learned to do that 35 years ago when I went fishing with our
then-seven-year-old daughter Laurie at Lake Huron near Tawas City,
Michigan. Earlier in the day, Laurie had caught her first fish and I
noticed she was talking to it as I released it into the water.
it just so happened, it was a rather large perch and one of about a
dozen we caught that day. So, as the afternoon curved gently toward
evening, I picked up the bucket of fish and we trudged up to the cottage
to prepare the fish for dinner.
the cottage, I took out the knife and was preparing to fillet the first
fish, Laurie let out a blood-curdling scream.
“What are you doing to the fishie,Daddy,?” she shouted.
“I‘m going to clean the fish so we can have them for dinner,” I told
That’s when she started to cry, big tears spilling down her sun-tanned
cheeks. Ten minutes later, with all the fish still splashing around in
the bucket, Laurie and I headed down to the beach to let them go.
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