On Hold for Fish Heaven

    I’ve never been good at putting two and two together, understanding the logic of the next step. When I was a kid, fishing was constantly on my mind. I liked the idea of going fishing and was fascinated by the endless minute variations in the paraphernalia. What I never imagined was catching a fish. The cause and effect, go fishing, catch fish, never occurred to me. What to do with the fish I couldn’t imagine catching was even farther from my grasp.
    For months I’d been doling out my allowance on fishing supplies, the finest the five and dime could provide. I had a plastic tackle box and spent many pleasant hours arranging my cheap lures, bobber floats, lead weights, and rubber worms. Why would anybody put a weight and a float on their line at the same time? I didn’t know. Somehow I got a rod and reel. The reel fascinated me and I never did figure out how it worked. All spring and into the summer I enjoyed my afternoons playing with my fishing gear, being careful not to get caught on the sharp unused metal hooks.
    My mother became exasperated. Beautiful summer days and all I wanted to do was stay in to read comics and play with my tackle box. Now and then she’d prod me out of the house
insisting I just go out and fish. Even with a stream in our backyard and a reservoir less than a twenty minute walk away I’d still wander around for hours looking for the right place.
I’d find some pond and lay out all my stuff. One by one I would attach my plastic bugs and rubber worms in different combinations, giving each one a turn at being cast and getting wet. I was careful to wipe them dry afterwards and remove any grass or mud. One afternoon against all odds I caught a fish! A brown brook trout about eight inches long.
    I showed my mom the fish. She said it was very nice, then wrapped it in foil and plunked it into the big chest freezer out in the garage.When my dad came home I told him. He agreed my catching a fish was nice, but no, he didn’t need to see it. Over the years my fish worked it’s way lower and lower in the freezer, sinking deep into the permafrost. Years, then decades went by.
    Time passed but not for my fish. Eventually my father passed away and it was time to sell the old house and move my mother into a nursing home. I hired a local company that does estate clean outs to the place ready for sale. Dividing the contents into keep, sell, donate and trash. Part of the donating plan involved the non-expired food in the freezer. Part of the trash plan was to scrap the heavy old rusted appliance. I wasn’t thinking about the fish. It was over fifty years since I has accidentally caught the fish. There was some misunderstanding or scheduling change that came up and the freezer went off to the junk yard still full, liberating my fish from it’s earthly cycle. A long delay, but the little guy was finally on his way to fish heaven.


Doug Mathewson