Last Sunday afternoon I fished with my nieces and nephews at my parents house just outside Newton. They caught a few perch and a small bass. After one of these hauls, my seven-year-old nephew, Emry ran up to me and said, “Uncle Eric, aren’t you proud of me? I caught a fish all on my own, without anyone to help me, at all! Not anyone!” I was proud of him. It made me recall a time in my childhood when the highlight of my week was a trip to Newton’s brand new Walmart. I would spend every penny of my allowance on Zoom worms, Spider Line, Eagle Claw Hooks, and anything else that would entice fish to bite. At that time, to me Newton was just the place where we went to church, where Pizza Hut was located and where I bought my fishing gear.
My favorite lure in those days was the Jitterbug. It was a cast and reel rig with ominous looking tri-hooks that would splash and vibrate along the surface, doing its best impression of a tasty insect. It worked best on rainy days. The biggest bass I had ever seen would fly out of the water trying to hit the lure, and I would stand there wishing they had better aim. One day, their aim improved and I caught, “The biggest bass in the pond, Dad!” (I was just sure). It weighed seven pounds; it could have been twenty, I was so thrilled about it. My scrawny ten-year-old arms could barely pull it in, and I was in awful fear and trepidation that my line would break. But it didn’t, and I got my bass.
In retrospect, I wish I would have thrown it back for someone else to catch and enjoy, but I put it on my stringer, tied it to my bike, hauled it home and held it up proudly for a picture.
It was pleasant and satisfying to see that same, “I just caught a fish!” smile on the faces of my nephews and nieces. Those same happy memories I created are being recreated in them and near the same places; history is adding another generational layer that is made up of the same substance as the one before it. The fish are different fish than in my day, but they still seem to enjoy worms like the old timers, and those catching them seem just as thrilled as ten-year-old me.
R. Eric Tippin
One Hundred Yards from a Fish Pond
April 20, 2013