Some fish never learn.
Ben, age 10, dipped into his third bucket of worms, and, while experienced fishermen, trolling offshore, cast in vain, Ben dropped his rod off the edge of the dock and reeled in fish although they were only 6″ long. Unlike the fishermen in boats with fish finders and sophisticated rigs from Orvis, Ben had a $19.95 rod from Crossroads.
One afternoon, an especially hungry fish, hooked on worms, attacked Ben’s line and swallowed it, hook, line and no sinker. Since the hook was deeply embedded in the mouth of the sunfish I was called to extricate the hook. Impossible. Instead I cut the line a foot above the fish and left him dangling. (I apologize for this gruesome image, unfit to be read by children under 13, or anyone who takes pride in their aquarium!) The sunny would survive although all its fellow fish now called it “Good Old Number 2,” 2 being the size of the hook it carried in its mouth.
The following day Ben returned to his favorite perch, (a place, not a species of fish), and tossed his line. I relaxed on a chaise lounge and swatted flies when suddenly I heard a child shout. “Quick, I caught the same fish I caught yesterday!”
Aware that all sunnies look alike, I replied: “You only think it’s the same fish. There are so many down there!”
“No, come to the dock. You’ll see.”
Unable to resist a child’s plea I made my way to the dock where Ben held up a sunny, the light reflecting shades of yellow and brown off its slippery body.
“How do you know it’s the same fish?” I asked Ben.
“Look, two hooks!” And Ben rested his case.
Yes, Ben was correct. That poor sunny boasted two lines, one dangling from the right side of its mouth, a leftover from the day before, and a second line extending out of the left side, this line still attached to the Superman fishing rod. As a clergyman, with a life dedicated to empathy, at first I pitied the poor fish, addicted to hooks, (or hooked by an addiction), as I would whether fish or human. However, on further reflection, I decided that any creature, whether living below the water or on dry land, that continues to repeat its mistakes, probably deserves the consequence.
At least, that’s the line I have followed in this story.
Moral: Spare the rod and save the fish.