I don’t have a lot in common with Henry David Thoreau. He “went to the woods” in order to live “deliberately.” I, on the other hand, have lived most of my life in the city, and somewhat “fortuitously.”
We do share one thing, however. He enjoyed fishing, often going out on Walden Pond in the evening. There he would fish under the moonlight, meditating about the universe. He cast his line “upward into the air, as well as downward.” When a fish gave a “faint jerk” on his line, he would return from the spiritual to the natural. Thus, he writes, “I caught two fishes as it were with one hook.” I read “Walden” a long time ago, but Thoreau’s idea of the dual nature of fishing has stayed with me.
My father taught me to fish on Lake Sunapee when I was young. Twice he took me fishing in New Brunswick. This was long before I read “Walden,” and although I did catch some bass, the time with my father, already in declining health, was meaningful beyond anything the lake could produce. It was my “second fish,” even if I didn’t know it at the time.
I haven’t had very good luck over the years fishing in Gilmore Pond. This year I made a wonderful discovery. Now that I have a New Hampshire driver’s license once again and am of a certain age, the license is free and good for life. I plan to get my money’s worth.
A summer ago my grandson Solomon came to visit from California, and I outfitted him with a child’s fishing rod. He caught some small fish, and we had a good time. I promised him that next year we would go fishing again,
When he arrived for this summer’s visit, the first thing he asked was, “When are we going fishing.”
“Tomorrow,” I told him. “We’ll buy some bait and then go out for the big ones.”
That sounded good to him, and the next morning we went off to Pelletier’s. I introduced Solomon, now almost 7, to Bruce the owner, and we talked about fishing. “We’re going out for the big ones,” my grandson told him.
Two men were standing nearby, and like most fishermen, they wanted to help. They asked where we were going to fish, we said Gilmore Pond, and they encouraged us to fish either early in the day or at dusk.
We thanked them and left with our nightcrawlers. By now it was mid-morning, but we couldn’t wait, so we went out on Gilmore Pond to try our luck. When the first spot didn’t produce anything, I suggested we try another place. My grandson agreed with that strategy.
So there we were, my grandson doing a pretty good job casting and waiting for that “faint jerk” on his line. Then, after a few casts, his rod bent over and he started reeling, to no avail.
“I think you’re stuck on the bottom,” I said. I took the rod, only to realize this was no bottom, so I handed the rod back and said, “It’s a fish.”
He went back to reeling and at one point said, “Grandpa, I think I need some help.” So, together, we managed to land a 3 and 1/2 pound bass, 18 inches long. “It’s unbelievable,” he said. I agreed.
As we made our way across the pond to show off the fish, Solomon said, “Grandpa, fishing is a great sport. Do they have it in the Olympics?”
My grandson’s great catch happened several weeks ago, but it is one of those rare events in life that feels each day like it just happened. Once again I have experienced catching two fish on one hook.