I’ve never been that patient or particularly skilled at fishing. Good fishermen need at least a little of both. When I was a boy I liked to spend the evening on the margin of the pond with my Zebco 404 rod and reel combination. I would cast and retrieve over and over again as fast as I could. My Dad, my uncle Bill, and Grandpa always said I needed to sit still and watch my bobber for a while but I was able pass my entire childhood from birth to about my sophomore year of Senior High School without ever sitting still.
One mellow late June evening I was standing on the south edge of the pond casting a purple night crawler into the water and reeling it in over and over again. The sun was dropping over the hill in the west and glowing in the tops of the huge hickory trees up the hill to the north.
I hadn’t had a nibble all evening. I could see there were people on the porch of the house and I wondered what they were doing. My sister or my brothers or my cousins had something going, so I decided that I would make one more cast and then reel in my line and hike back to see what was going on.
I cast out the purple worm for the last time and watched it for a second, then losing patience I began to retrieve my bait as fast as I could. I cranked on the reel yanking the tip of the pole up and down with each rotation, pulling the bobber and worm fast toward shore. Just when the bobber reached the point where I would yank it from the water a terrific splash churned the water just behind it and the line went tight. My prize was a nice fat bass. Everyone was impressed. No one guessed I landed it without patience or skill.
Every once in a while on a perfect summer night, when a boy is flailing the water all the wrong way, with all the wrong bait, providence will smile on him in spite of himself. He will hook into a fish that will still live in his memory when his sons have sons.
Things haven’t changed much since that summer night long ago. My equipment is a little more costly and sophisticated but I’m still as impatient as ever when I fish and I don’t care as much about catching things as I do about being out in God’s world while the sun slips from sight and the moon rises. Like most men I like to have something to do with my hands to justify an evening outdoors. I still like going out and listing to water run over rocks. I still like being outdoors in a summer evening watching trout rise and listening to crickets. I’m a social guy and my life is people, but from time to time in order to have anything worth giving to the people I love and serve, I find that I need some time in a quiet place where the phone will not ring.
And there are always lessons to learn outdoors. I learned something important that summer evening on the bank of my grandpa’s pond. You may not be that good or that patient, but sometimes the catch of a lifetime will come your way if you just try one more time before you reel in your bait.