A Supposedly Fun Thing I Wish I Would Like to Do Again

 

A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work. So reads the bumper sticker on the late ’90s F-150. Someone is headed out for some fun on the lake. I wish I were that guy.

But I don’t.

In my mind’s eye, a young boy has dropped a line into a quiet pool on Dinkey Creek. He sees the flash of color as the rainbow trout in the clear depths darts under a rock. He waits, attaches a salmon egg to a hook, and slowly drops it into the water near the rock. Waits while the trout waits. Waits while the other boys and girls from the summer school field trip walk by, ask, laugh, mock, and move on. Waits until he outwaits the fish, and returns to camp in triumph.

A younger boy, with his dad this time, fishes for bluegill (panfish) in a pond somewhere he now can’t remember. What he later remembers from this outing is a decent size fish swallowing the hook all the way into its intestines, so that when it is reeled in, the body of the panfish slips from its guts into the water, leaving the boy to stare in disappointment at the slimy, sun-silvered spaghetti on his hook. Fishing is funny.

Next, the grown man is in a boat, fishing with a men’s group on desolate Fort Peck Lake. Walleye and Northern Pike, the one feisty and the very heaven for flavor; the other dangerous and good enough prepared fresh, fill the boat’s ice chest. The sun is hot. The beer and the breeze make him forget that he’ll pay for the day with sunburn tomorrow. But what the hell. This is nice.

You’d think, for the memories, that guy would like to fish, that he would seek it out. But the truth is he’d rather not. He hasn’t the patience or the time (he tells himself). He’d rather read The Compleat Angler or The Contemplative Man’s Recreation than contemplate with a fly pole. He’s even had the opportunity to paddlefish with treble hooks and beach poles on the Yellowstone. He’d rather see them swim with their vacuum-cleaner mouths wide open at the exhibit in Shedd Aquarium.

A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work. The problem is that it’s not a binary choice. There are many other things to do, fun to be had in other ways, delights and delectations all along the way. Weird Al’s “I’ll be Mellow when I’m Dead” pops into his head.

He wishes he would like to fish again.

And he hates A River Runs through It.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    • #1
  2. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    James Hageman: A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.

    This reminds me of another expression:

    Bad sex is better than no sex.

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Stad (View Comment):

    James Hageman: A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.

    This reminds me of another expression:

    Bad sex is better than no sex.

    Not necessarily true, though.

    • #3
  4. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    James Hageman: A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.

    This reminds me of another expression:

    Bad sex is better than no sex.

    Not necessarily true, though.

    For me it is.  Hehe . . .

    • #4
  5. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Stad (View Comment):
    For me it is. Hehe . . .

    Have you met my friend Tiny? He just got out of jail and is looking for love.

    • #5
  6. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    I do like the idea of fishing. But when I go I get bored silly. And stick my thumb with a hook (and I’m not pro-bleeding.)

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    James, although I never was a fisherwoman, I can identify with your OP. I occasionally think of things that I’d like to like more than I do–which sounds so strange! I especially wish I liked nature enough to be out in it–hiking, boating, picnics–but I really don’t do any of them. I do take my morning walk and very much enjoy it, but it’s more for staying healthy than enjoying the beauty (which is a close second). I guess I have other things I’d rather do that are quieter and more “inner.” 

    • #7
  8. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    I don’t like fish and never cared about fishing. But my dad loved both, and I loved spending a day on the lake in the boat with my dad.

    • #8
  9. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    A great essay.

    • #9
  10. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    I fish just for the halibut but only on a small scale.

    • #10
  11. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    James Hageman: He wishes he would like to fish again.

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I occasionally think of things that I’d like to like more than I do–which sounds so strange!

    What an incredibly interesting category. I shall be thinking about this for a long time. Might even make a list of my top ten don’t-like-but-wish-I-did activities.

    Running might make the list, but it’s actually super fun not running so I’m not sure.

    • #11
  12. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    I fish just for the halibut but only on a small scale.

    PUN PATROL! HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE ‘EM

    • #12
  13. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    James Hageman: He wishes he would like to fish again.

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I occasionally think of things that I’d like to like more than I do–which sounds so strange!

    What an incredibly interesting category. I shall be thinking about this for a long time. Might even make a list of my top ten don’t-like-but-wish-I-did activities.

    Running might make the list, but it’s actually super fun not running so I’m not sure.

    I’ve often felt I’m supposed to like running. But then I think, NAH. I run only from danger or to the bathroom.

    • #13
  14. Southern Pessimist Member
    Southern Pessimist
    @SouthernPessimist

    I love to fish but don’t let it get in the way of other choices. Fishing can be many things but it is rarely competitive and generally provides some success at every level of experience. Golf is something else. If you want to be a proficient golfer, no amount of practice is ever going to be enough. Golf was an obsession for me for fifty years. I played my last round ten years ago. I went back home after many years and played the municipal course I had grown up on. It was a magical experience. I shot 76 which was the best score I had ever had on that course and decided I had played enough golf. I miss it from time to time, especially when watching it on TV but I no longer have any friends who play and it is too hard to find a reliable group to play with once you are out of the loop.

    • #14
  15. cirby Inactive
    cirby
    @cirby

    The last time I went fishing was when I was a kid, in the late 1960s.

    My dad took me out on Lake of the Pines, in East Texas, to fish for bluegill.

    We were sitting there in the boat, waiting for a nibble, when a very large alligator snapping turtle decided it didn’t like us, and tried to climb into the boat, hissing and biting. Dad whacked it a few times with a paddle and finally managed to lever it off the boat and back into the water.

    He started up the engine, turned around, and headed back to the boat ramp.

    That’s the last time I went fishing. And, coincidentally, the last time he went fishing too.

     

    • #15
  16. Southern Pessimist Member
    Southern Pessimist
    @SouthernPessimist

    The first time I can remember a real fishing outing was when I was 9 or 10 and my dad who never fished took me fishing at night with a business friend who had a boat. We fished Oak Hollow lake and caught a nice string of fish that I was rather proud of. We headed back to the marina for a late catfish dinner. As we unloaded to go into the the marina diner, we realized we had forgotten to pull the string of fish out of the water as we powered our way back and we had an empty stringer. Not the last time my stringer came up empty.

     

    • #16
  17. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    I feel like I should comment, but I’ll let my picture do it for me.

     

    • #17
  18. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    I am enjoying the way this month’s posts swing back and forth between movies and fishing, both in our August theme: “Reeling in the Summer.” Stop by today and sign up today.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #18