June 27 was my Mother’s 84th birthday. She wanted to go fishing. A couple of weeks ago, she and my Dad gave me a photo album which contained pictures of my family from many periods of our lives. The theme of the album was to prove once and for all that fishing is in our blood. Now I know that many families have bloodlines which basically require them to fish. In effect, they have no choice. Apparently, the Rowe family is one of those families.
The plan was to head to a little farm pond in Perry County, Ohio owned by a good friend, Bob Hamilton and his three brothers. The pond is loaded with bluegills and bass. I left work around noon, picked up deli sandwiches, and headed to the bait store. My Grandpa Hessey taught me many years ago that running out of bait was a cardinal sin for a fisherman. And so, I bought a dozen soft craws, a box of wax worms, a box of red worms, and a dozen juicy night crawlers. This particular bait store is known as R&R it is located just south of downtown Columbus. The owners are friendly and knowledgeable. I guess they should be, the place has been open since 1913.
I speculated with the bait store owner that perhaps I was the only 64-year-old son in America who was buying his 84-year-old mother natural bait so that she could go fishing on her birthday. I got no argument.
We all met at our house. My wife, Lauri, had packed the essentials for a fun picnic and after packing we jumped in my folks minivan and headed for the fishing hole. Upon arriving, we set up on the back porch of the old farmhouse near the Hamilton pond. We had a great lunch. After lunch, we began to rig rods and get ready to fish. My Mom uses a walker to assist in getting from one place to another. She does great with it. Fortunately, a little fishing dock extends into the pond and my Dad and Mom set up on the edge of the dock to begin their fishing.
I rigged a rod for Lauri whose eyes were scanning the pond for signs of fish activity. She noticed a fish pushing minnows on the far side of the pond. As soon as her rod was rigged and baited she headed to the hot corner and before the rest of us were even in the water she had a nice little bass on the bank. Further proof that she is really a better fisherman than me!
I rigged a six weight flyrod and put on a bluegill fly pattern. Before long I had a couple nice small bass of my own. All of a sudden there was a terrible commotion at the other end of the pond. My Mom and Dad were sitting in chairs at the end of the dock and I saw my Dad rising out of his chair to set the hook on a fish. As he rose up, he backed into my Mom’s walker and kicked it into the pond. You can imagine the chaos of an 84-year-old man attempting to retrieve a slowly sinking walker as it drifted towards the bottom of the pond. Fortunately, my Dad is a determined guy. He yanked the walker out of the water, set it on the dock, and it slowly dried in the setting sun.
Although we were enjoying the evening, my Mom was getting frustrated. She had yet to catch a fish. So I decided to become a fishing guide for the rest of the evening. I put down my flyrod and walked on the dock. I picked up a spinning rod and hooked a soft craw on a bare hook underneath a stick bobber and launched the craw into a little corner of the pond to the right of the dock near an edge of weeds. As soon as the bait hit water I got a bite and hauled in a chunky feisty bass. I said, “guess the soft craws still work”. The pressure was on. No woman should go fishing on her birthday and get skunked by not catching a fish. So I hooked up another craw and launched the bait back to the same corner of the pond. I handed the rod to my Mom and sure enough another bite! The bass put up a spirited fight but soon he was flopping on the dock! A couple of fish later I retired as Mom’s fishing guide. Of course, Mom was excited. She caught her birthday fish! Happy birthday Mom! We love you.