This past October at a gathering of outdoor writers, I bought a big tackle box full of bass baits. It’s a good-sized Rubbermaid box with clasps on either end.
Inside are removable trays, rows of compartments, slides of containers and racks of hangers. From stern to stem, the box was loaded with spinners, divers, chatterers, sinkers, swimmers, ploppers, plungers and enough treble hooks to fill every ER west of Bogue Chitto with
I bought it to give to my 13-year-old son for Christmas, which I did, and now roughly a quarter of its contents are hanging from trees, snarled in laydowns, embedded in embankments and traded away for similar loot from his friends, which is just what I had hoped would happen. The rest are being fished every day, transferred in small doses to a backpack and bicycled from pond to pond in the neighborhood where we live.
When I get caught up in the hand-held instant communication we’ve created to remind ourselves to hate one another, all I need do to escape is look up. Chances are, my son and his bicycle gang of buddies will be pedaling by, pursuing trophy bass or tiny pool perch, whichever bites first, pursuing them with a passion unique to kids who are old enough to make some decisions for themselves but are too young to notice the burdens adulthood brings. They’re a reminder that, no matter what’s going on elsewhere in the world, summers are still sunny, neighbors are still friends, and fishing is still the best place to be.
Sometimes we put too much oversight into our efforts to introduce kids to the outdoors. Both have been making their own introductions, one to the other, unheralded and unhindered by adults, since time began. Sometimes, if we’re very lucky, the relationship even serves to introduce us back.