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Casting fish tales over time

The Jacksons from the September 13, 2018 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator

cartoon image of a family seated at a table

I remember the last time I came here with your grandpa.” Andrew Jackson spoke as he slowly reeled his lure in, watching as it occasionally flashed in the sunlight just below the surface of the lake. Jennifer, sitting on the dock with her back to her father, swung her fishing rod over her head and sent her own hook flying through the air. It made an audible plunk when it hit the water a good 50 feet away.

“Did Grandpa catch anything?” she asked.

“Did he ever!” Andrew chuckled as he lifted his lure out of the water, swung his rod back over his head and sent the hook sailing out again.

“Dad was old. And he had been shrinking for years. Like people do when they get old, so he didn’t weigh as much as he used to and he didn’t have a lot of arm strength anymore. He was sitting about where I am now and I was over where you are and suddenly he said, “I got one!” and then he said, “oh no!” and I turned around just in time to see him disappear over the edge of the dock as that fish pulled him right into the lake. It was a good thing he didn’t weigh much or I might have had trouble pulling him out of the water.” Andrew paused. “He was so mad at me,” he said.

“Why would he be mad at you because a fish pulled him into the water?” said Jennifer.

“Because I had forgotten to set the brakes on his wheelchair,” said Andrew.

Jennifer laughed out loud. “Oh my goodness, that’s terrible!” she said. “And funny at the same time,” she added.

“That’s what I thought,” said Andrew, “and so did Dad, after I wheeled him up to the cottage and got him into some dry clothes. He never let me live it down though. After that he used to regale his friends with the story of how I tried to drown him in the lake because I wanted my inheritance.”

“Like you had trained a fish to pull him into the lake,” said Jennifer, chuckling.

“Don’t get any ideas,” said Andrew.

“No worries,” said Jennifer. “There must be a million ways to speed up getting an inheritance that would be easier than trying to train a fish.”

“True enough,” said Andrew. “Fish have notoriously short attention spans.”

Andrew and Jennifer lapsed into a long silence, broken only by the swish of rods swinging through the air and the plunk of lures splashing into the water.

“Here fishy, fishy, fishy,” said Jennifer eventually.

“Good thinking,” said Andrew. “That always works.” There was another brief silence, again broken by Jennifer.

“I got one!” said Jennifer excitedly, reeling in her line as her rod bent nearly double. “It’s a big one! I bet it’s a five-pound jackfish!”

Andrew swivelled his head to look. “It’s probably just an old boot,” he said.

“Must be a jackboot then,” said Jennifer, “because it’s putting up quite a fight!”

Andrew laid his rod down on the dock, and came over to sit beside Jennifer as she slowly drew the fish closer to where they sat. He reached back and grabbed the fancy rubber fish-handling glove from the tackle box behind them. “That is almost certainly not a boot,” he said as the fish broke the surface of the water and then tried to dive down under the dock. “Bring it in.” He reached down and a moment later hoisted the fish out of the water with his gloved hand and with his other hand deftly removed the hook from the fish’s mouth. He held the fish up and looked it in the eye.

“I think our fathers knew each other,” he said. “But I think we should let bygones be bygones, what do you think?” The fish wriggled emphatically in his hand. “Good,” said Andrew. “All is forgiven.” He reached down and gently released the fish back into the lake where he and Jennifer watched it swim away.

“It’s nice to have closure,” said Andrew.

“I’m sure the fish feels the same way,” said Jennifer. “How big was it, do you think?”

“Maybe two pounds,” said Andrew.

“Oh come on,” said Jennifer. “It was at least four pounds!”

“It wasn’t,” said Andrew. “But I have good news for you.”

“What?” said Jennifer.

“Thirty years from now when you tell this story to your kids, it will be five pounds at least,” said Andrew. “That’s the thing about fish. They keep growing after you catch them.”

Jennifer gazed out over the water.

“It’s going to be a monster,” she said. “Someday I will come back and catch it again.”

“If you do,” said Andrew, “don’t forget to set your brakes.”

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