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« on: May 28, 2014, 05:43:48 PM »

First Fish
By Jeff Mishler

Call me a liar but I do not remember the first fish I caught.  I can't imagine it happening any earlier than the age of four but it is possible.   I say this is because as long as I can remember my mother has displayed a picture of me proudly holding out a stringer of trout for the camera, mounted in one of those Beaver Cleaver, pre-manufactured, multiple cut-out picture frames that were so popular in the 70's.  My little white potbelly protruded from a gray sweatshirt too short for my growing torso.  The trout were large, fifteen to twenty inches.  I was smiling.

"I" caught those fish in that picture because my father says I did.   The only thing I remember from that day was that my underwear was wet and it rode uncomfortably high in my jeans when I raised the hefty load of fish for the camera. 

As the story is told in our family, upon returning from the morning's fishing out on Diamond Lake my father lifted me out of the rented aluminum boat and said, "here hang on to this", which meant holding the gunwale next to the dock.  I leaned over, put my hand where he showed me and he walked down the long dock towards land.  I was kneeling on the hard planks of the dock, trying so hard to do just as he said.  My little hands gripped the cold aluminum gunwale as the rest of me struggled for balance on the dock.  The boat began inching away from the dock.   The more I leaned to pull it back, the more it moved out.  I quickly reached the point of no return and found myself fully extended over the icy water too afraid and embarrassed to speak.  Not fully understanding the predicament, I held on to the gunwale rather than hop across the void and into the boat.  I dropped into the water like a small dog and began to flail. 

Fortunately for me my grandfather stood by watching with great amusement.  He let the entire episode play out until I began to sink.  Then he casually yanked me out of the lake by my belt just before I really panicked.  He laughed a bit, set me on the dock, handed me my fishing pole and said, "Here little guy, try hanging on to this". 

Apparently I did.
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