EMPTY STRINGERS 

Fish Tales

My grandfather taught me how to catch a grasshopper with a baseball cap and where to pierce it along its back with a hook. We would fish in a little "crick" on the back 400. Calling it a creek would have been too gracious. The only reason little perch were in there managing to survive was because of the constant influx from a leaky windmill well. The "crick" was only about 300 yards long and the channel mainly served as a flood control for his prickly pear-infused South Texas ranch. Those memories of fishing in that "crick" and his stock tanks for catfish are some of my fondest. After taking my own spawn plus the nephew-spawn fishing last weekend, I have newfound respect for my granddad's attempts to take his five grandchildren down to the "crick." I wonder if he had the same thoughts of throwing us in the water too.

Out near Star on the Boise River there's a pull off with slow moving water and easy access to the river. I've fished there before with moderate success and it's a popular spot because the river isn't running too fast. Three kids excited about fish is a sight to behold—contained fusion energy—but it's a delicate orchestration to keep their attention focused on the objective.

With no grasshoppers to catch we relied on the old standby using worms bought from Megalo-Mart. I've known for years that taking kids fishing doesn't qualify by any definition as what grown adults consider fishing. It is an exercise in patience. Each spawn had their own short rod and closed-face reel to avoid tangles. Each was equipped with it's own bobber, shot-weight and single hook. Each had the attention span of a monkey.

For kids, catching a fish is frosting on the cake. What interested my crew more was poking at the dead rotting fish on the riverbank, seeing how many worms they could hold in their hands before one fell off, and throwing rocks in the river were much more exciting. I did manage to get the older two spawn to hold their rods and watch the bobber float slowly down the river ... for all of 60 seconds or so. In the end, we caught four sticks, snapped our lines six times, and managed to bother at least three other anglers.

Their inability to resist reeling in the line and wanting to cast over other lines, tree limbs and each other, I remembered a trick my own father used with me. I retied their lines with only a weight and told them to cast on land. The mere action of just casting and reeling was enough of an experience for them and on the positive side I didn't get any hooks in my ear or back of my head. Other than teaching the spawn the meaning of fishing is not always catching fish, they practiced their casting and it got us out of the house for an afternoon. I felt lucky. A day spent fishing, even with the spawn, is a day well spent. And I didn't have to clean any fish that afternoon either.

Send your fishing tips and tall tales to bingo@boiseweekly.com. Suggest where the fish are biting or where to try someplace new.

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