Why we fish: My first fish

“First fish I ever caught I took home and hid under my bed, mom eventually smelled it out.”
— Jeremy Johnson

Dateline: March 2021

“There are places I remember…”

When I think back to my childhood I see it in short bursts of a black and white movie, the soundtrack being a melody of laughs and tears, times filled with moments of wonder, excitement and discovery that to this day, I carry within me.

In my soul.

In my dreams.

And in the stories to which I leave behind. 

“Childhood is a short season.”
— Helen Hayes

I do not though remember the first television show I ever watched.

Nor my first at bat, first comic book or day at school.

I do though remember my first fish (and worm), remember that whole experience as if it was yesterday.

I remember my first fishing worm. I cried when my grandfather stuck the hook through it, “You kilt it, you kilt it,” and then I ran and hid behind a tree so as to not witness worm pain.

I remember the first fish I caught. I cried when I saw the hook in his mouth and saw it was all jumping around before my grandfather grabbed it, “You kilt it, you kilt it,” and then I dropped the fishing rod and reel and went and hid behind a light post so as to not witness Niagara River fish pain.

“I don’t think the boy is ready for this yet,” is what my grandfather told my parents when we got back home, and as they all stood looking out our picture window as I was burying the worms we brought home in the dirt in the front garden in case “we kilt them too.”

I was 4 or 5 and apparently, sensitive.

With that begins time travel this March as I asked some folks this one question: “Do you remember the first fish you caught as a child?”

And that question began, for many, the childhood movies they had stored within.

Hit play.

“…all my life, though some have changed…”

“There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.”
— Graham Greene